Battersea Dogs Home names veterinary hospital after late Paul O'Grady

Paul O'Grady
Paul O'Grady became an ambassador for Battersea Dogs and Cats Home in 2012. Credit: PA Images

Battersea Dogs and Cats Home has announced its veterinary hospital will be named after the charity's late ambassador Paul O'Grady.

The TV and radio presenter from Birkenhead on Merseyside, who died in March aged 67, became an ambassador for Battersea in 2012 after the success of ITV's award-winning For The Love Of Dogs, 11 series of which were filmed at the home.

After O'Grady's death, the animal charity set up a "tribute fund" in his honour which has raised £480,000 to date.

Battersea Director of Veterinary Services Shaun Opperman said:

"We were overwhelmed for the outpouring of support and sympathy after Paul's passing, we received over 20,000 individual donations that has resulted in the staggering amount of £480,000 and it is a real testament to Paul's legacy"

On what would have marked O'Grady's 11th anniversary as an ambassador for the charity, it announced that the funds will be spent on "life-saving and transformative medical procedures" for dogs and cats who need specialist care and treatment.

A tribute fund set up in O'Grady's honour has raised £480,000 to date. Credit: PA Images

Some £100,000 of the fund will be distributed to five other animal charities that were close to the entertainer's heart, with each getting £20,000.

Charities near O'Grady's home city of Liverpool are among those who will be supported including Freshfields Animal Rescue, Carla Lane Animals In Need and The Oldies Club.

Freshfields, which is based in Formby, said it is a "real honour" to be chosen as a recipient of money from the tribute fund.

In a statement it said: "Paul’s passion for animal welfare helped enormously with shining a light on rescue animals who need a second chance in life.

"This generous funding will help carry on his incredible legacy by allowing us to care, support and give medical attention to rescued animals. We are planning to use it for preventative work.

"Always better than cure! We want to expand our vet facilities for neutering for more dogs and cats from our Liverpool centre.

"It is desperately needed as there is an enormous challenge for us with the overpopulation of pets.

"In 2022, there are 11 million cats and 12 million dogs in the UK. 60% households own a pet.

"There is a 30% increase in requests for help across the board. For us its 50%. In 2021, we had 580 dogs we couldn’t take in - this year its 150 a month, or 1800 a year.

"We want Paul’s legacy to prevent dogs and cats from abandonment and risk of an early end to their life.

"We will be able to neuter many more dogs with this funding."

"We do need everyone to help by not letting your dog or cat have a litter. And we would ask everyone: please neuter the pets you have.

"That way, together, we’ll make sure we do Paul proud and carry on his fantastic legacy.

"Paul was rightly loved and respected by people of Merseyside and it’s all the more meaningful that this funding will transform the lives of many animals in Liverpool and the North West.

"We will do him proud”.

StreetVet, a charity providing veterinary care to pets of people experiencing homelessness, of which O'Grady was also an ambassador, and the RSPCA Ashford Garden Cattery, where he was the president, will also receive a portion of the funds.

Paul's husband Andre Portasio said: "Seeing how loved Paul was by so many has been truly touching.

"Paul was so passionate in his support of rescue animals, and it gives me some comfort to know that through the hard work and commitment of Battersea and other charities Paul's legacy will live on.

"I know that Paul would have been pleased to know that the most disadvantaged animals he was so fond of championing are getting the love and support they deserve."

Paul with his husband Andre Portasio. Credit: PA Images

O'Grady was given a special recognition award at the 2018 National Television Awards for the impact For The Love Of Dogs had on helping find homes for rescue animals nationwide.

The presenter also posthumously won the factual entertainment award for the TV show at the 2023 award show.

His contribution to animal welfare was also recognised with an RSPCA animal hero award.

The chief executive of Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, Peter Laurie, said: "We've been overwhelmed and deeply touched by the generous donations from thousands of people following the death of our beloved ambassador, Paul O'Grady.

"It really is a testament to how loved Paul was, and we shall always be forever grateful for everything he did for us.

"As an ambassador for Battersea, especially during his 11 years filming For The Love Of Dogs, Paul helped animals in their recuperation from surgery, and at times, watched as they headed off site for specialist surgery; naming our veterinary hospital after Paul, therefore, feels fitting.

"We are pleased to also be able to share donations with other charities who support rescue animals.

"Paul was always a champion of the underdog, and we'll be carrying on his legacy, by ensuring we use the funding to go the extra mile for animals that need costly surgery, medication or rehabilitation."

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