Battersea Dogs and Cats home had a Royal guest today, when Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall paid them a visit.
Camilla’s visit came to officially open the new veterinary hospital and centre of excellence for the organisation. Greeted with something of a canine guard of honour, the Duchess was quick to make friends on her arrival.
She met a bull dog who was cheeky enough to pop his head up her skirt. Winston, receiving treatment for breathing difficulties, was over friendly. “Typical dog, head up the skirt,” Camilla giggled.
Two eight-week-old Staffordshire Bull Terriers, Bentley and Bailey, also formed part of the greeting party, along with their mother, Bertha. The family was brought in when the puppies were just one day old, and were clearly keen on the Duchess.
Battersea, perhaps one of the most famous names in animal homes, was founded back in 1860; it aims to never turn away an animal in need.
Clearly a lover of animals, Prince Charles’ wife was tempted to take another dog home with her: “I am literally having to hold myself back and stop popping one in my bag, they are all so gorgeous. But I think three would be a little but too much and I’m not sure my two girls would be that accepting of a stranger.”
Her two dogs, Jack Russells called Bluebell and Beth, were also rescues from the animal shelter.
Camilla wasn’t alone though: TV Personality, Paul O’Grady, an ambassador for the charity, was also at the visit. Of his five dogs, four of them came from Battersea.
“I always say why would you want to go off and buy a dog when you can come here and rescue one? Rescues are always so loving and so grateful – they make wonderful companions,” O’Grady explained, also saying he was such a regular visitor that he was ‘part of the brickwork’.
The new hospital will house 32 veterinary staff who will perform around 70 operations per week while an attached centre of excellence gives more space for training and events. Last year, 5,000 dogs and 3,000 cats were cared for at Battersea.
In a short address to guests – which included model David Gandy and author Jacqueline Wilson – Camilla praised the centre and its work: “Battersea is an awe inspiring place. It’s known all over the world.
“Everyone knows about dogs and cats from Battersea and as we all know the British are besotted with dogs and cats.”
“I suggest that any of you who haven’t got one see those charming little pleading faces looking at you and go back and take one home with you, because they are the best companions in the world.”