Battersea Dogs and Cats Home pays tribute to 'generous' ambassador Paul O'Grady
Paul O'Grady was a regular visitor to Battersea Dogs & Cats Home - a place where he found inspiration and with which he formed a deep and loving bond, as Sejal Karia reports
Paul O'Grady has been hailed as "synonymous" with Battersea Dogs & Cats Home for his work with the animal charity.
The TV star had close ties to the organisation, which praised his "razor-sharp humour and perpetual generosity and warmth".
O'Grady died unexpectedly on Tuesday at the age of 67, his partner Andre Portasio announced.
O'Grady became an ambassador for Battersea in 2012, following the success of ITV's multi-award-winning For The Love Of Dogs, which was filmed at the home.
Shaun Opperman, Veterinary Director at Battersea, told ITV News that O'Grady's death marked a "really difficult" day for the organisation, reflecting on the legacy the TV and radio presenter had left behind.
"He's been a big part of Battersea for ten years and almost an on-site presence throughout that," he said.
"So much more than just a programme I think to Paul. He just became so involved with Battersea, almost synonymous with Battersea in a way and his love of dogs just shone through."
O'Grady presented For The Love Of Dogs for eleven series and, last year, was joined by the Queen Consort in a special one-off episode of the programme, to mark 160 years of the organisation.
During the first series of the show he took home Eddie, a Chihuahua Jack Russell-cross puppy, and Mr Opperman said he had "lost count of the number of times he took [dogs] from us" to be rehomed.
Listen to Unscripted, our entertainment and arts podcast
He added: "He was always saying 'Oh you're going to make me take another one home' and he did so many times."
Such was O'Grady's affection that, on Wednesday, well-wishers left dog treats, among other tributes, outside the gates to his farm in Adlington, Kent.
Mr Opperman recounted one particular story of O'Grady's time at Battersea, describing how he was pulled out of a room by a "over-amorous" bulldog, called Peggy.
"We were both seated but we hadn't realised that his [O'Grady's] was an office chair on wheels and when I handed him Peggy's lead she had other ideas.
"She had places to go and things to sniff, so she just exited the room at some speed and Paul, I just remember, went flying out, spinning on this chair... as he did so just laughing his head off.
"And that just encapsulated so many of the experiences we had with Paul over the years."