Battersea encourages people to look beyond a pet's pedigree and instead embrace its personality

Leading animal charity Battersea is warning that rescue dogs and cats are being overlooked due to the public’s preoccupation with fashionable breeds.

Launching a ground-breaking new campaign, ‘Rescue is Our Favourite Breed’, to celebrate the inimitable characters and quirks of rescue dogs and cats, the charity is encouraging animal lovers to always think rescue first when it comes to finding their new pet, even if it may mean waiting a little longer to find the perfect match.

Every year, 250,000 animals are brought to rescue centres around the UK for all kinds of reasons.[i] Most are much loved pets that through no fault of their own find themselves without a home. They may be an odd mix of breeds, they may not look perfect, but they have so much to give.

Battersea’s research shows that whilst 92% of people say they believe rescue is the right thing to do[ii], when the time comes to get a new pet, many choose to go online and search for a specific breed instead. In the last 12 months there have been on average 165,000 monthly searches online for ‘French Bulldogs’[iii]. A fifth of people who say they wouldn’t consider rescue say they can’t get the type of breed they want from a rescue centre[iv] and over half (52%) say the animals in rescue centres often have health or behavioural problems, and you don’t know their full history[v].

Claire Horton, Battersea’s Chief Executive, says;

“Even though one in four dogs and cats are rescues[vi], you’re still more likely to hear about French Bulldogs, or Labradors being the nation’s favourite pets. Our preoccupation with breed is fuelling a ruthless pet trade based on looks alone – one that can sadly put profit before animal welfare.”

“Battersea is setting out to increase the visibility of rescue animals, to show they’re more common than you think, and are in homes across the nation. They’re the most rewarding, responsible choice for a pet, and we’re hoping to bring them front of mind – to get all generations of animal lovers to think rescue first.”

To encourage potential pet owners to be more open to rescue pets and look beyond certain breeds, Battersea has removed breed filters from its own online animal galleries. Initial tests have shown that when visitors to the site were not given the option to filter by breed, they viewed more animal profiles, and a higher percentage of them went on to apply to rehome a dog or cat.

Rob Young, Battersea’s Head of Operations, says; “We know that misconceptions and pre-conceived notions about the traits and behaviours of certain dog and cat breeds can heavily influence people’s rehoming choices. By removing the option to search by breed we’re hoping that visitors to our website will be more open-minded to finding the right match. If someone is looking for an affectionate lap dog, or an energetic, playful pet, then they will find a perfect match regardless of breed. When you go to Battersea, you won’t just get a Ragdoll, or a Labrador, or even a Mongrel. Most importantly, you’ll be getting a Rescue.”

Last year Battersea rehomed 2,301 dogs and 2,140 cats. The charity has seen a notable reduction in rehoming over recent years as more people search online for fashionable breeds and are influenced by what they see on social media. They believe ‘Rescue Is Our Favourite Breed’ will help break down some of the misconceptions people have about rescue animals, encouraging them to see rescue as desirable and a badge of honour.

Rob Young adds, “People think rescue dogs or cats will be harder to train than a puppy or kitten, or that it’s just not as prestigious to own a pet that hasn’t come from a breeder. Well, nothing could be further from the truth. Ask any proud rescue owner and they will tell you that rescue pets are the best pets. They may not be perfect, but they’re worth it”

Amongst the animals to feature in the new campaign is beautiful Belle, a lively three-year-old Lurcher from Tonbridge, Kent. Her owner Giovanna Trani-Brown said, “People may have reservations about visiting a rescue centre, thinking that all of the animals would have been given up for serious medical or behavioural problems, but dogs like Belle show that this couldn’t be further from the truth. Sure, she can be a bit cheeky sometimes, but she also has a unique personality that makes my family and I love her even more. I’m proud to be a rescue owner and hope this campaign will show people that rescue animals are legends in their own right and have so much to give.”

Battersea’s new campaign ‘Rescue is Our Favourite Breed’ launches on Saturday 12 October. Visit Battersea.org.uk to find out more and join the growing community of rescue lovers at #RescueIsMyFavouriteBreed.

Notes to editors

  • FCB Inferno are one of the U.K.s leading creative agencies, known for multi award winning work for clients including Barnardo’s, BMW and the acclaimed This Girl Can campaign for Sport England. FCB Inferno is one of London’s leading advertising agencies. They were the second most awarded UK agency at Cannes International Festival of Creativity in 2019 and were voted Agency of the Year at the inaugural Campaigns for Good awards in 2018.
  • According to the Association of Dogs and Cats Homes, every year, 250,000 animals are brought to rescue centres around the UK.
  • According to YouGov Profiles of 34,465 recent GB dog/cat owners, 1 in 4 dogs and cats are from rescue centres.
  • Battersea is here for every dog and cat and has been since 1860. Since it was founded 160 years ago, Battersea has rescued, reunited and rehomed over 3.1 million dogs and cats.
  • Battersea helps nearly 7,000 dogs and cats across its three centres and uses its expertise, influence, and voice to help thousands more animals all over the country and across the world.
  • Battersea cares for an average of 250 dogs and 120 cats across its three centres at any one time.
  • In addition to the site in South West London, Battersea also has two other centres based at Old Windsor, Berkshire and Brands Hatch, Kent.
  • For further information on Battersea, please visit www.battersea.org.uk.
  • Follow Battersea on Twitter @battersea_ or facebook.com/Battersea
 

[i] Association of Dogs and Cats Homes http://www.adch.org.uk/

[ii] Behind the Scenes at Battersea campaign evaluation conducted by Future Thinking in 2018.  

[iii] Google Ads Keyword Planner.

[iv] Morris Hargreaves McIntyre population survey for Battersea 2015 (base 300)

[v] Behind the Scenes at Battersea campaign evaluation conducted by Future Thinking in 2018.

[vi] YouGov Profiles 07/19 (34,465 recent GB dog/cat owners)