Battersea Dogs & Cats Home’s new Veterinary Hospital and Centre of Excellence is opened by The Duchess of Cornwall

Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cornwall visited the iconic London site of Battersea Dogs & Cats Home on 7 September 2016 to officially open the charity’s new Veterinary Hospital and Centre of Excellence. The state-of-the-art clinical facilities will play a pivotal role in Battersea’s aim to never turn away an animal in need of help.

The Duchess of Cornwall has two Battersea dogs of her own, both Jack Russell Terriers. The Duchess rehomed Bluebell in 2011 and Beth in 2012.

On her visit to the Home today Her Royal Highness met some of the homeless dogs and cats who are currently being treated by Battersea’s veterinary team. These included Nancy, a one year old Yorkshire Terrier cross and Mickey, a three year old German Pointer.

Prior to the new Veterinary Hospital opening, Battersea’s 32 veterinary staff were performing around 70 operations a week in just two operating theatres, as well as performing an average of 150 dental procedures per month. 

The new Veterinary Hospital has three top-spec operating theatres, enabling staff to perform well over 100 operations per week. For the first time ever, Battersea will have a dedicated dental suite to care for the 80 per cent of animals who arrive at the Home with problem teeth. Brand new intensive care areas and sound-proofed recovery wards with separate space for dogs and cats will allow for a peaceful and calm recovery.

Claire Horton, Chief Executive of Battersea, said: “For 156 years Battersea has been on the front line of animal welfare, caring for the many thousands of abandoned and neglected dogs and cats who come through our gates who so desperately need our help. Our new Veterinary Hospital and Centre of Excellence will help us realise our ambition to help more dogs and cats and not just those within our centres, as this world-leading facility will enable us to welcome and train staff from rescue and rehoming organisations all over the world. The new Veterinary Hospital is a place of transformation and hope where even the most neglected and abused dogs and cats can be put back on four paws by our dedicated staff before they are found a new loving home. We look forward to an exciting future working to transform the wellbeing of dogs and cats across the UK and beyond.”

Shaun Opperman, Battersea’s Veterinary Director for the last 24 years, said: “Working at Battersea as a vet is very different to working in general practice as so many animals come to us as strays, without any medical history. We are perhaps more reliant on diagnostic procedures such as radiography, ultrasound or laboratory work in the first instance, to fill in the missing pieces of the jigsaw, to be able to diagnose any problems before being able to return them to full health. Our previous clinic was struggling to cope with the 8000 dogs and cats coming through our doors, many the innocent victims of neglect, over-breeding or puppy farming. 

“Every aspect of our new Veterinary Hospital and Centre of Excellence is designed to help us treat greater numbers of animals with more complicated surgical needs. Our new facilities will speed up treatment and recovery to give each and every rescue dog and cat a chance of a new life as quickly as possible.”

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For more information and images please contact 020 7627 9291 or email press@battersea.org.uk 

Notes to editors  

  • The Duchess of Cornwall previously visited Battersea in 2010 to open the new Cattery at its London centre. She returned to visit with her Battersea dogs Beth and Bluebell in December 2012.
  • Established in 1860, Battersea Dogs & Cats Home aims never to turn away a dog or cat in need of our help, caring for them until their owners or loving new homes can be found, no matter how long it takes. We are champions for, and supporters of, vulnerable dogs and cats, determined to create lasting changes for animals in our society.  
  • Last year Battersea performed 4,728 operations on the dogs and cats in its care.
  • This works out as on average 18 operations a day (Monday to Friday).
  • All dogs and cats at Battersea are neutered before they are rehomed. Last year we neutered 1,488 dogs and 1,570 cats.
  • The building was designed by Jonathan Clark Architects and built by Sir Robert McAlpine.
  • Since it was founded, Battersea has rescued, reunited and rehomed over 3.1 million dogs and cats. 
  • Battersea cares for over 8000 animals every year including nearly 5000 dogs and over 3000 cats.
  • On average 13 dogs and 9 cats arrive at our three centres every day.
  • 27% of dogs and 64% of cats arriving at Battersea in 2015 were strays. 
  • Battersea would like to thank the following contractors for their generous sponsorship of the opening event: Realtime Civil Engineering Ltd, Stortford Interiors, MSL, Fleetwood Architectural Aluminium, Middleton Bespoke Joinery Limited and Sir Robert McAlpine.