Key impacts

Battersea details the 6 key areas of impact for the charity in 2017


A changing world for animal rescue

Conscious that the external landscape in which rescues such as Battersea operate is changing with the extraordinary growth in online trade in pets, the number of people choosing a rescue pet was declining. So too were the types of stray or unwanted dogs and cats coming into rescue charities such as Battersea.

In 2017, we redoubled our efforts to bring animals in from where there was most need, from Local Authorities the public, and some from new or unexpected sources. Their medical and behavioural needs were often more complex, so we focused less on simply the numbers but more on the greater difference we made for these animals who had nowhere else to go.

More than ever, Battersea’s centres care for the underdog (and cat) and pick up the pieces for those animals who either fail to sell online or were previously bought online by unwitting owners who were unable to cope when faced with costly vet bills or challenging behaviours.

How Battersea looked after animals in need

In 2017, Battersea received 3,373 dogs through our gates – a decrease of 8% on the previous year – and 2,910 cats – a decrease of 12%. 498 stray dogs were brought in from 31 Local Authorities and we trained 22 specialist Local Authority staff directly responsible for stray dogs. This has helped improve welfare within Local Authority kennels and the condition of those dogs which then come into Battersea.

We are increasingly working in partnership with other organisations to help more animals. We received 332 dogs from 19 other organisations, such as Four Paws Animal Rescue in Wales.

We equipped our staff with the detailed knowledge and skills they needed to bring out the best in our animals.

Our investment in helping more challenging animals meant that although the average stay for animals at Battersea increased slightly to 38 days for dogs and 22 days for cats, encouragingly the percentage of animals that we were able to rehome or reunite increased year on year to 81% for dogs and remained at 94% for cats.

What's next?

In 2018, Battersea will take in and support those animals that may not have a chance elsewhere and stand by our non-selective intake policy, welcoming any dog or cat that needs our help. We will further develop our partnerships with Local Authorities to ensure more stray and unwanted animals are taken in and we will develop more partnerships to bring in animals from rural rescues that are at maximum capacity. We will promote our animals extensively and grow our relationships with working dog and cat outlets, to ensure that our animals have an option to be rehomed away from a domestic environment.

  • Battersea helped 7,365 animals in 2017, including 4,047 dogs and 3,318 cats

  • 32% of dogs that came in to us were unable to be helped by other organisations

  • Battersea performed 36 successful airway surgeries for brachycephalic dogs, up 177% on 2016

  • We placed 90 cats in non-domestic outlets e.g. farms


Why rescue animals make great pets

We recognised there needed to be a rethink about how the nation chose their next pets and Battersea should tell the world what makes our rescue animals so very special, happy, healthy, and ready to be loved. In the UK, a new dog for sale advert is created online every two minutes, and a new cat for sale advert every four minutes, often on poorly regulated websites and social media. Choosing a new pet had become a crowded and changing marketplace and rescue animals were in danger of losing out. The trend in pet owners selling unwanted animals online, rather than bringing them into rescue centres was made worse by unscrupulous breeders cashing in on this age of online convenience.

How Battersea is promoting rescue animals

We began a major initiative to promote rescue, aiming to encourage more people to choose a Battersea dog or cat. We launched our first TV advertising campaign ‘Happiness Starts at Battersea’ and during that period dog rehoming increased by 8%.

The campaign coincided with our sixth successful series of Paul O’Grady: For the Love of Dogs on ITV, which has a strong track record of promoting rescue dogs to a national and global audience. Our series won a National Television Award for championing and promoting rescue animals. We simplified rehoming with a new online process; potential owners could meet our dogs on ‘summer walks’; we ran digital promotions for our cats; and with Battersea adverts we targeted those who searched for a pet on websites. Inventive rehoming ideas included showing our dogs to train commuters at London Waterloo. All these efforts helped Battersea achieve a top 10 UK charity awareness ranking (8th) for the third year in a row in the YouGov Charity Index.

What's next?

Battersea planned a significant campaign for 2018 to promote the rehoming of Battersea animals, launching our biggest ever promotion of rehoming rescue animals through a series of videos and TV advertising. We will make it even easier to rehome a rescue animal and highlight the inherent risks of buying an animal online. We will develop greater support for those that have adopted Battersea animals, through offering more after-care, and provide bespoke behaviour advice for owners.

  • In 2017, Battersea reached 65m viewers through our ITV series Paul O’Grady: For the Love of Dogs

  • We handled 7,980 online rehoming applications in just two months

  • Battersea ranked 8th in YouGov Charity Index ranking of best-known UK charities


Why Battersea acted to increase animal cruelty sentencing

Battersea sees many dogs and cats coming into our centres and around the country having suffered from unspeakable cruelty. We recognised that Britain lagged well behind in sentencing acts of the most shocking cruelty to animals. Too many perpetrators were given a minimal sentence or not sent to prison at all – 933 people were convicted of animal cruelty in England and Wales in 2015, with the average sentence just 3.3 months. Our research showed that, Britain had the lowest sentences for such cruelty in the Western world. With well-proven links between animal cruelty and child abuse, Britain had to introduce tougher sentences for the benefit of all concerned.

We used our voice to call on the public to start talking to their MPs on this issue, pushing for change. Battersea wanted to see sentences raised from six or 12 months to five years.

How our campaign influenced Government policy

We launched a national campaign, resulting in five-year maximum sentences for animal cruelty becoming official Government policy in England, Wales and Scotland. Over 62,000 people emailed their MP in all 650 UK constituencies, calling for a change in the law.

We secured the support of household-name celebrities and comedians – Paul O’Grady, Ricky Gervais, Sue Perkins, Harry Hill and Tracy Ullman – to champion the #notfunny cause.

We secured the support of household-name celebrities and comedians – Paul O’Grady, Ricky Gervais, Sue Perkins, Harry Hill and Tracy Ullman – to champion the #notfunny cause.

Having launched the campaign at Westminster, we then broadened it to Scotland, putting our case to Government Ministers and MSPs. The Scottish Government were first to announce in September their commitment to pursue a five-year maximum sentence in September and England and Wales soon followed suit.

What's next?

This campaign shows there is a national consensus that the punishment must fit the crime and there is a determination to see this change come into force. Introducing new, or changing existing legislation, takes time and Battersea is working very closely with Governments, offering support and using our influence, confident that five-year sentences will become law in 2018/2019.

  • 62,000 people emailed their MP or MSP in support of Battersea’s animal cruelty sentencing campaign

  • Battersea’s campaign reached 22 million digital impressions

  • Battersea received 245 pieces of media coverage including two front-page leads

  • Three Governments have promised to change the law on cruelty sentencing: England, Wales and Scotland


How Battersea works with other charities and organisations

In recent years, Battersea’s role in helping dogs and cats outside of our three centres has increased significantly and will continue to do so. In 2017 we worked in partnership with more organisations to deliver new or improved animal welfare policies. We also began to offer advice and training to other rescue charities to help them in the care of their animals and management of their centres.

How Battersea is helping animals outside our centres

Following three years of effective campaigning, Battersea has played a central part in helping to develop new UK animal breeding and sale regulations to address backstreet breeding and puppy farming. We also prepared the groundwork for both the Scottish and Westminster Governments’ later decisions to ban the use of electric shock collars and, through our work with the Cat Population Control Group, the BVA Cat Group, and C4 – a London-based cat initiative – 90% of the nation’s cats are now neutered.

Battersea’s ability to influence animal welfare policy and help more animals beyond our rescue centres is strengthened by our Chief Executive being the link between Government and the animal welfare sector. She champions the sector as their 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 is a key influence on the All-Party Group on Animal Welfare (APGAW) at Westminster.

We sought to help make sure fewer dogs ended up as unwanted strays on our streets. Reaching out with responsible dog ownership messages to communities where some people own dogs for the wrong reasons. We engaged with offenders and those on the cusp of offending through Pupil Referral Units, Young Offenders’ Institutes and other marginalised groups, to increase awareness of responsible dog ownership. We saw a 47% positive change in participants’ behaviour and attitude towards dogs.

What's next?

Continuing the themes of our successful End Backstreet Breeding campaign, Battersea will collaborate with local and central Government and our partners to ensure the new legislation on the breeding and sale of pets is a success, and raises welfare and breeding standards. It is vital to improve the health of both mothers and their puppies and we will seek ways to encourage people away from puppy farms and backstreet breeders. Battersea will also work to encourage more pet-friendly housing policies and reach out to help many more dogs and cats through our ambitious initiative, providing training to a range of animal rescue organisations.

  • 130 members of the Association of Dogs and Cats Homes helped over 150,000 animals

  • 90% of the nation’s cats are now neutered

  • 91% of community engagement participants learnt to recognise signs of a nervous dog

  • We led or partnered in 27 pieces of policy work across our sector


How volunteers support Battersea’s work

Battersea could not achieve such success without our volunteers and foster carers playing their part alongside our exceptional staff. It is thanks to the tireless efforts of those 937 people, who give their time for free across all areas of the charity, that Battersea can help over 6,000 dogs and cats that come through our doors each year. Many people want to volunteer at Battersea but retaining them can sometimes be a challenge. We wanted to make sure they truly felt part of the whole of Battersea and not simply passionate about the animals they cared for.

Volunteers and foster carers support our committed staff and are integral to Battersea's vital work. Throughout 2017 we focused on growing the numbers of volunteers who contribute their time and skills to our charity and retaining them.

Volunteers and foster carers support our committed staff and are integral to Battersea's vital work. Throughout 2017 we focused on growing the numbers of volunteers who contribute their time and skills to our charity and retaining them.

Battersea’s resources for volunteers

In recognition of our volunteers’ contribution, Battersea was awarded Investing in Volunteers (IiV) accreditation, noting the enthusiasm and dedication of Battersea’s volunteers. Work to improve our volunteer experience, including offering greater learning and development opportunities, dramatically improved volunteers’ average length of stay from 24 to 35 months. This included the delivery of our first Volunteering & Fostering Conference in June 2017, to coincide with Volunteers’ Week. The opening of our new Volunteer & Foster resource centre provided a dedicated relaxation and study area, and visits to other animal rescue charities to share experiences with their volunteers, plus award nominations, all contributed towards volunteer retention. Many volunteers join Battersea in the hope of securing an employed position and many do.

What's next?

Battersea is keen to play a strategic part in supporting volunteering across the Third Sector. Charlotte Fielder, our Head of Volunteering and Fostering, is an Assembly Member for the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) and also leads on Volunteering and Disability on the Institute of Fundraising’s Task Force on Diversity in Fundraising. Battersea is determined to make our volunteering and fostering programme as equal, diverse and inclusive as possible. We firmly believe in the NCVO statement ‘Volunteering for all’ and we champion best practice so that BAME, LGBT+ and people with a disability are encouraged to volunteer or foster animals for Battersea.

  • 937 volunteers gave their time to help Battersea’s dogs and cats in 2017

  • Battersea volunteers gave 89,086 hours of their time (up 7% on 2016)


Why we’re widening our fundraising activities

Battersea is always looking for new ways to raise funds for our animals and diversify our income. We wanted to offer more locations across the country for our Muddy Dog Challenge events, allowing us to connect with new supporters and provide a fun and accessible way to support us. Our Old Windsor Fun Day and the Battersea Annual Reunion also provided an opportunity for supporters and their dogs − ex-Battersea and otherwise − to enjoy a great day out taking part in dog classes, watching demonstrations, and raising funds for our dogs and cats.

The success of Muddy Dog Challenge

In 2017, over 3,000 members of the public took part in our Muddy Dog Challenge events in four different locations. The unique appeal of Muddy Dog Challenge attracted dog owners from across the country, who signed up to take part in the sponsored 2.5k or 5k obstacle course with their dogs. We took the event to three new areas: Nottingham, Kent and Essex, and reached a younger group of people keen to get involved.

Our challenge events were supported by 519 volunteers and won the Gold award for ‘Best Fun Run’ in the 2017 Running Awards and was shortlisted for the Institute of Fundraising Excellence Award for Best Use of Events.

Our challenge events were supported by 519 volunteers and won the Gold award for ‘Best Fun Run’ in the 2017 Running Awards and was shortlisted for the Institute of Fundraising Excellence Award for Best Use of Events.

Many of those taking part are now regular donors and we raised £450k in gross income. Alongside this, 4,000 people attended Battersea’s 2017 Annual Reunion and 3,000 attended the Windsor Fun Day, helping to not only raise further funds but also showcasing what the best of Battersea is all about.

Battersea fundraising in 2018

In 2018, Muddy Dog Challenge will expand to cover six UK locations – Nottingham, Windsor, Manchester, Peterborough, Cardiff and Tunbridge Wells. We will continue to build on the knowledge and experience gained from holding these new challenge events by introducing a range of new participation events in 2018 such as the Battersea 'Stray Over'.

  • £22 million was raised for Battersea through fundraising in 2017

  • 123,000 active Regular Givers contribute over 1m per month to Battersea

  • We raised 450k raised from the 2017 Muddy Dog Challenge