A year in campaigning: a look back at 2020

16 DECEMBER 2020

2020 has been a year like no other. The whole world has adjusted to lockdowns, restrictions, and the heartbreak of living through a pandemic. Throughout everything, Battersea has continued to fight for a better future for the UK’s dogs and cats.

Despite the darkness, thanks to your support there have been some important steps forward for all animals. Let’s take a look.

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The Rescue Sector Unites

Battersea worked with colleagues across the rescue sector to offer support through the financial and operational upheaval of the pandemic. Together with the Association of Dogs and Cats Homes, we surveyed rescues to identify where they needed help, or had concerns, as well as helping them with financial and practical support. We also worked with other charities to alert a committee of MPs to the issue who then raised this with the Government.

Battersea Investigates Animal Welfare in the Time of COVID-19

Battersea launched a research report into the impact of COVID-19 on animal welfare to shine a light on the issues being faced across the sector. The report showed:

  • More than half of smaller rescues across the UK & Ireland saw their income drop by 50% or more as a result of the pandemic
  • The UK is likely to see up to 27% more stray dogs across the next five years
  • More than 40% of people who bought puppies during lockdown admitted they had not previously planned to get a dog

Scotland Fights Animal Cruelty with Five-Year Sentences

In June, Scotland passed its Animal Health and Welfare Bill. This landmark legislation brought in five-year maximum sentences for animal cruelty, following a Battersea campaign in support of this vital change in the law. The Bill also brings in Finn’s Law for Scotland, which protects service animals hurt in the line of duty and makes it easier to rehome animals involved in cruelty cases.

Battersea met with MSPs of all parties to champion this law, running a three-day event in September 2019 where MSPs pledged their support. We’d like to thank all our supporters who emailed their MSPs backing this change. You’ve helped to secure a future in which the severity of animal cruelty offences can be matched by proportionate sentences.

Purr Minister Shines a Light on Feline Welfare

This year’s Purr Minister contest saw fur fly as Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle MP’s cat Patrick clawed his way to victory to become the country’s favourite political cat. As well as providing a welcome bit of fun, our animal contestants raised important issues such as cat microchipping and animal cruelty sentences while generating awareness of Battersea’s work with cats.

Party Conference Season Goes Digital

Political party conferences provide Battersea with the opportunity to meet politicians from different parties, share insights into our work and persuade them that animal welfare matters.

As party conferences shifted online this year, we made the same move. We set up a remote party conference event which gave politicians a video tour of our site, the opportunity to meet some of Battersea’s key players, including CEO Claire Horton, and the chance to ask their questions about Battersea, animal welfare and the impact of COVID-19.

The event was a big success, with politicians attending from a range of parties, expressing how much they enjoyed hearing about our work.

2021 Beckons

Battersea will continue to be a voice for the UK’s dogs and cats in 2021 and beyond. Our focus is now on animal cruelty sentencing in England and Wales, where the maximum sentence remains a pitiful six months. A Bill to change the law is making its way through Parliament, but progress is slow. We’ll be pushing for this in 2021 and hope to have your continued support.

Follow us on Twitter  or sign up to our newsletter to hear more about our work on animal welfare issues and the ways you can help us fight for a better world for every dog and cat.

Battersea's COVID-19 report

Our report highlights the drastic impact that COVID-19 has had on animals in the UK.

Download our report