Tied to a tree and covered in sores: Wilma’s story shows the cost of backstreet breeding

Discovered tied to a tree in Battersea Park wearing a threadbare Christmas jumper to hide her awful skin, Wilma the Yorkshire Terrier was terrified when she was handed in to Battersea Dogs & Cats Home.

The little dog was infested with live fleas and suffering from a terrible skin infection that led her to bite off all the fur on her back, stomach and back legs. Wilma also had a heart murmur, rotten teeth, swollen mammary glands and was leaking milk.

Tomorrow the five-year-old’s sad story will be broadcast on Battersea’s award-winning ITV series, Paul O’Grady: For the Love of Dogs.

Battersea staff believe Wilma has been used for backstreet breeding, producing litter after litter until she was eventually dumped. She was not microchipped and no one came forward to claim her.

Wilma was rushed to the world-famous charity’s state of the art Veterinary Hospital and put under an intensive regime to treat her medical problems.

Battersea’s London Centre Manager Rob Young said: “It’s hard to believe a gentle and sweet dog like Wilma was treated so badly. She’s such a loving dog who always tries to climb into everyone’s arms for a cuddle and it’s heart-breaking to think of her looking for affection and being met only with cruelty.

“Battersea has long been campaigning for better regulations around the breeding and sale of dogs, as we know there are other dogs just like Wilma all over the UK being forced to breed in horrible conditions before their puppies are taken away from them and they’re forced to do it all over again. Wilma’s the perfect example of why we need to do more to stop backstreet breeding.”

Find out if Wilma will find her happy ending when Paul O’Grady: For the Love of Dogs returns for a sixth series this Thursday at 8:30pm on ITV.

You can download photos of Wilma here: https://pawtfolio.battersea.org.uk/web/35075eb4119c5985/wilma-/​

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For more information and images please contact 020 7627 9333 or email press@battersea.org.uk

Notes to editors 

  • Wilma will star in Battersea’s award-winning series of Paul O’Grady: For the Love of Dogs on Thursday 19 October at 8:30pm on ITV. Thursday’s programme will be episode one of series six. 
  • 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. 
  • Since it was founded, Battersea has rescued, reunited and rehomed over 3.1 million dogs and cats.
  • In 2016 the Home cared for over 7000 dogs and cats.
  • Battersea cares for an average of 270 dogs and 200 cats across its three centres at any one time.
  • There is no time limit on how long an animal can stay at the charity but the average stay for a dog is 35 days and 22 days for a cat.
  • In 2016 26% of dogs and 32% of cats arrived as strays.
  • In addition to the site in South West London, the Home also has two other centres based at Old Windsor, Berkshire and Brands Hatch, Kent.
  • Battersea Dogs & Cats Home rehomes dogs and cats all over the UK.
  • Battersea Dogs & Cats Home receives no central government funding towards the care of its dogs and cats and relies on the generosity and support of the public to help care for lost and abandoned dogs & cats. To make a donation visit our website or call 0207 627 7883.