Battersea's staff and volunteers work tirelessly to achieve the best possible outcome for every animal.
Battersea is not selective in the dogs and cats it takes in – we welcome every animal in need of our help, caring for them as long as it takes to rehome them. This approach means that we don’t discriminate over the types of animals we receive. In 2018, Battersea helped many dogs and cats with very complex problems requiring specialist and often extensive care and rehabilitation from our veterinary and behavioural teams.
The ever-increasing numbers of young animals and fashionable breeds traded on various websites contributed to Battersea receiving 9% fewer puppies and 13% fewer kittens in 2018. But it’s often animal rescues that pick up the pieces when owners can no longer care for the new puppies and kittens they’ve bought online, due to unforeseen veterinary or behavioural issues. In the first three months of 2018 alone, Battersea took in more than 100 dogs that had been bought online.
On 1 October 2018, new laws came into force banning licensed sellers from dealing in puppies and kittens less than eight weeks old. On 23 December the Government also confirmed it will ban the sale of puppies and kittens by pet shops and other commercial dealers.
This had an immediate, dramatic impact on puppy farm dealers across the country, who are now getting rid of breeding bitches and stud dogs that will be of no use to them once the ban comes in.
Responding to this urgent problem, Battersea – along with other UK rescue centres – has been doing all we can to help these abandoned animals, offering them a new life and an opportunity to experience their first ever loving home.
Puppy farm dogs don’t know life beyond a tiny, filthy cage, they’ve never been on a lead before or even been allowed into the daylight for a walk. Battersea is providing them with specialist care, medical treatment, and essential training. And we are rewarded every day by seeing them make progress and eventually go home, where they will be loved and cared for.
Battersea’s efforts to help dogs and cats outside our three centres has increased significantly in recent years, and will continue to do so through the vital work we are doing alongside other rescue centres to help animals that have come from puppy farms or bad breeders.
We’ve also been taking in and rehoming cats from Yorkshire Cat Rescue since 2016 to help them cope with the huge numbers of cats being brought
to them and thanks to our efforts, we have helped the centre clear their long waiting lists.
After being bought online, Nimbus arrived with us at just four weeks old and had to be taught how to eat and clean himself.
Sold online at just four weeks old,
Nimbus was brought in to Battersea
when his new owner realised he
was far younger than had been
advertised. He’d been bought on
a car boot sale app and arrived at
our London centre frightened
and covered in his own urine.
Too young to clean himself,
Nimbus had suffered scalding from
the urine on his skin and was also
very underweight. Our veterinary
team cleaned him up and he was
taken on foster by Veterinary Care
Assistant Kate Brooks, who was
able to provide the round-the-clock
care that Nimbus needed after being
separated from his mother at such
a young age. Kate taught him how
to eat, as he had not used a bowl
before, and gave him soothing baths
and eye drops for his constant
It took several weeks to get Nimbus
well enough to go to a new home.
Battersea is seeing a huge rise
in the number of animals brought
in to its centres after being sold
online, and cases like this one show
the perils of buying pets over the
internet. Nimbus is just one example
of an animal who was sold too young
and in poor health. Many other
animals bought online are reluctantly
given up to rescue centres or sold on
to someone else once their owners
realise they cannot fully meet their
Many dogs and cats arrive at
Battersea needing little more than a
check-up, vaccination, worming and
flea treatment. However, others are
in poor condition and it is up to our
team of eight vets and 25 nurses
to care for them. As the popularity
of brachycephalic (flat-faced) dog
breeds continues to grow, so do the
number of these dogs being given to
us with serious health problems.
In 2018 we took in 47 Pugs compared
to 36 in 2014. We also took in 40
French Bulldogs, a huge leap from
eight that came through our gates in
2014. These dogs have been bred
to have short, obstructed airways
and often need major surgery just
to be able to breathe. In 2018, our
vets performed this highly complex
Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway
Syndrome (BOAS) surgery more
than ever before in our history.
In 2015, Battersea performed a
total of seven BOAS surgeries.
Only three years later, our vets
had to perform this operation a
staggering 62 times.
In 2018, Battersea made some
vital improvements to operational
facilities at all our centres, which
would not have been possible
without the generous funding and
donations we receive from our
valued supporters. At our Brands
Hatch centre, donor contributions
helped us build four new outdoor
cat pens, providing improved
accommodation and a stimulating
environment for more independent
cats used to being outdoors.
At Battersea Old Windsor, a new
indoor exercise space for the
centre’s dogs was completed
and will be used for a range of
dog-related activities including
training, introducing potential new
owners to a dog, and dog agility
demonstrations. Four new, large
cattery pens were constructed, and
improvements were also made to
the existing kennel blocks.
At our London centre, an activity
space was created within a disused
railway arch, providing valuable
stimulation for our dogs during wet
or hot weather. Containing sand
pits, puzzle games, sensory plants
and agility equipment, this facility
has been designed and created
by staff and volunteers to provide
dogs with an interesting space to
explore and enjoy.
For those animals that find
our kennels and cattery too
overwhelming, the support and
dedication of our foster carers
proves invaluable. In 2018, 463
dogs and 385 cats were placed in
temporary foster homes, enabling
our staff to gain a valuable insight
into how our animals respond to
the sights, sounds, and comings
and goings of a typical family
home. In 2018 two of Battersea’s
long-standing foster carers were
shortlisted for a prestigious CEVA
Animal Welfare Award.
It is not uncommon for animals to arrive
at Battersea with unusual stories, but
it is rare for one to have travelled over
2,000 miles. This was the case for threeyear-
old Domestic Short-hair Osmond,
found abandoned in a cardboard box on
the streets of Cairo when he was just
three weeks old. Luckily, the tiny kitten
was taken in by the people who found
him. When they left Egypt to return to the
UK, Osmond came with them.
When Osmond’s owners were sadly
unable to continue looking after him due
to a change in their circumstances, they
brought him to our Brands Hatch centre.
Staff and volunteers quickly grew to love
his curious and vocal personality, and
lucky Osmond became one of the first
residents of the new garden pens, built
in 2018 specifically to give independent
cats somewhere to safely explore the
outside world. Each of the three pens
has steps to allow the cats to climb up
high and look out over the surrounding
fields, as well as a heated shed with
cat-flaps to ensure they stay warm
during winter. The pens also include
solar-powered water fountains, non-toxic
plants, outdoor litter areas and benches
for human companions to sit on.
Adventurous Osmond enjoyed these
new facilities immensely. He loved
having visitors who would indulge his
playful nature with a toy and would often
cuddle up next to them. After 70 days at
Brands Hatch, he set off on one more
journey – to a new home in Hampshire.