Our Voice

Tackling animal welfare issues and removing barriers to greater pet ownership.


Following on from its 2018 launch, our campaign to increase sentences for animal cruelty remained a top priority. Throughout 2019, 9,000 new supporters signed up to the campaign and our Public Affairs team continued to push the change in law among members of Parliament.

A campaign was launched to encourage Battersea supporters to join our campaign. They sent 5,386 emails to the Government calling for the Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill to remain a priority. Of these, 38% were from new supporters and 62% were from previous supporters. The Draft Bill was well on its way to a third reading in September. Unfortunately, the Bill became collateral damage when Parliament was prorogued ahead of the General Election. However, there is universal political support for the speedy reintroduction of the Bill and Battersea will continue to push for progress.

In Scotland, where a Bill for five-year sentences had been consulted on and published, Battersea held an exhibition over three days in September solidly campaigning for political support for five-year sentences. Sixty-one MSPs, including the leaders of three parties, signed Battersea’s pledge board and the Bill subsequently began its passage through Parliament.


Bryn's remarkable recovery


Staff at Battersea’s Old Windsor centre were shocked when they took in Bryn, who had been discarded on a busy road in Slough. When he was found, the six-week-old was malnourished with a visibly protruding spine and was covered in fleas and lice, as well as suffering from cat flu. A member of the public discovered the tiny kitten by chance and took him to a nearby veterinary clinic, where he received medical treatment and had most of his fur shaved off before being taken to Battersea’s centre to continue his recovery.

Fortunately, Bryn was rescued before it was too late. After weeks of loving care with one of Battersea’s foster carers and lots of naps with his favourite toy, a cuddly seal twice his size, Bryn had transformed into a lively, affectionate kitten and was ready to go to a new home with a family in Kent.

Under current laws, the harshest punishment the person who caused harm to such a young animal would face is still only six months in jail, and most cases of alleged animal cruelty still don’t even result in imprisonment. Animals like Bryn don’t have a voice, so Battersea will always be there to speak up for them.


Strict ‘no pets’ policies are common in private rentals, and research carried out by Battersea in 2018 revealed that 21% of London Councils and 64% of the capital’s largest Housing Associations ban owning dogs in flats with no direct garden or street access.

To combat this, we launched our Pet Friendly Properties campaign and, in February 2019, The London Assembly voted in support of our goals, specifically the potential for tenants being able to enjoy greater access to pet ownership through more widespread pet-friendly tenancy agreements. We raised the issue of improving access to pet ownership in Parliament throughout the year, and our discussion of the campaign with MPs played a significant role in the Government’s plan to amend its own central tenancy agreement to encourage pet ownership, which will come to fruition later in 2020.


The 2019 General Election provided an opportunity to communicate with politicians and the public to produce the Battersea Manifesto, highlighting 12 of the key issues likely to come before the new Parliament. The Manifesto was also used as an engagement tool with potential supporters, who were encouraged to vote on which three of the priorities they considered to be the most important.

More than 2,700 people completed the poll and this data has been spilt regionally, so we can effectively lobby prospective MPs in each constituency specifically on the issues that matter most to their constituents.


Battersea continues to play a leading role on a variety of different groups that are focused on bringing about positive change for dogs and cats in the UK.

Battersea’s ability to influence animal welfare policy is strengthened by our Chief Executive, Claire Horton, who is a strategic link between Government and the animal welfare sector. She champions the sector as Non-Executive Director on the Government’s Animal Health and Welfare Board for England (AHWBE), represents AHWBE on the Canine and Feline Sector Group (CFSG), holds the Chairmanship of the Association of Dogs and Cats Homes (ADCH) and sits as a special advisor to the All Party Group on Animal Welfare (APGAW) in Westminster.

Battersea is committed to bringing the sector together and helping it to speak with one voice, ensuring that like-minded dog and cat rescue organisations across the British Isles are supported, informed and able to work collaboratively.