Battersea heroes steal the show at the charity’s annual fundraising Collars & Coats Gala Ball

The stars were out in force last night to witness some of Battersea Dogs & Cats Home’s canine heroes showing off their incredible transformations at the charity’s annual Collars & Coats Gala Ball.

The world-renowned rescue’s annual fundraiser, proudly sponsored this year by Vitabiotics SuperDog and Medivet the Vet, is supported by a host of high-profile celebrities including Battersea Ambassadors David Gandy and Dame Jacqueline Wilson.

Along with friends of the Home, Strictly’s Craig Revel-Horwood and TV doctor Dr Christian Jessen and a host of other stars, they were dazzled by gymnastics troupe Spelbound and treated to a showstopping performance by disco legends Sister Sledge - but it was of course some of Battersea’s former four-legged residents who shone the brightest on the night. 

Guests were met by the world-famous Guard of Honour – a line-up of dozens of Battersea dogs - on the red carpet before Chief Executive Claire Horton welcomed several special canine superstars onto the stage. Many of these dogs came through Battersea’s doors as strays or victims of neglect and abuse and each and every one has made an incredible recovery. Some now even help Battersea spread the message of responsible pet ownership in some of the most challenging communities.

These included Staffordshire Bull Terrier cross Whippet, rescued from thugs dragging her across a car park when she was a puppy. She was adopted by Battersea volunteer Chris McLean, who also adopted Staffie puppy Willow, brought in as a stray. Together with Bulldog George, who was brought to the Home completely bald and covered in sores, they fly the flag for Battersea in prisons and young offender institutions, where they help teach inmates the importance of treating a pet as a companion, rather than a cheap commodity. 

They were joined on stage by German Shepherd Ralph, who was found wandering the streets terrified, emaciated and with a dreadful skin condition. He was brought to Battersea and nursed back to health over several months before he was adopted by his foster carer. Next to him was Golden Oldie Flynn, a Retriever who was confused and frightened to find himself in Battersea aged 12 through no fault of his own – but he has turned out to be the saving grace for The Collett School in Hertfordshire, where he is now the companion dog to the young pupils who have complex learning difficulties and cognitive disabilities.

Claire Horton said: “Collars & Coats is in its eighth year now and is all about celebrating the charity's work in rescuing and rehoming dogs and cats, and raising funds to enable this work to continue. Battersea receives no Government funding so we rely completely on the generous donations of our supporters.

“The Ball gives us a great opportunity to highlight some of the most difficult animal welfare issues our staff are faced with every day, including dreadful cruelty and neglect cases, backstreet breeding and puppy farming.

“It’s a night where our dogs truly shine the brightest. The dogs on stage last night all have miraculous tales to tell, of overcoming abandonment and cruelty, and in some cases, now helping others out in the community – they have all been given a second chance in life and are true Battersea inspirations.

“Sadly there are so many more unwanted and abandoned animals out there for whom Battersea is their only chance.”