Paul O’Grady named as PETA Person of the Year

The late actor, television host, and former drag queen Paul O’Grady has been named PETA’s 2023 Person of the Year.

Paul O’Grady’s husband, Andre Portasio, will be presented with the award in his place.

O’Grady’s passion for animal rights spanned decades, from joining PETA to expose the horrors of animal testing in the 1990s and urging the Lord Mayor of London to stop herding sheep across London Bridge in 2014 to calling for a ban on “torture in a tin”– foie gras – earlier this year.

After hearing from O’Grady about how orcas suffer in cramped tanks of chemically treated water, travel giant Thomas Cook stopped selling tickets to marine parks.

O’Grady had a particular soft spot for homeless companion animals and used his celebrity platform to bring their plight to the public eye through his documentary series Paul O’Grady: For the Love of Dogs, which aired from 2012 to 2023 and showcased the animals at Battersea Dogs & Cats Home.

In 2020, he and Portasio adopted a Jack Russell mix puppy from Battersea whom they named Nancy. Later that year, O’Grady publicly slammed the BBC’s documentary Britain’s Puppy Boom: Counting the Cost – originally titled Will My Puppies Make Me Rich? – for encouraging puppy farming.

“Paul O’Grady once said that ‘it is our duty to treat animals with respect,’ and he lived by his own principles every day by being a tireless animal advocate,” says PETA Vice President of Programmes Elisa Allen. “PETA urges everyone to follow his example and honour his memory by speaking up whenever they see an animal in need.”

Previous winners of PETA’s Person of the Year include James Cromwell, Carrie Johnson, Sir Lewis Hamilton, Ricky Gervais, and the late Sir Roger Moore.

Image: Flickr user Steve Punter, CC BY-SA 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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