Paul O’Grady Wants to Feed 1 Million Rescue DogsKeith
Last year he spent six months at Battersea Dogs & Cats Home in London filming For The Love Of Dogs for ITV which regularly notched up eight million viewers.
“We were only meant to be there for six days but when I saw some of the sights I thought no, I’ve got to do this properly and get stuck in,” he says. “It’s the best thing I’ve ever done.”
The “sights” he refers to are dogs who had suffered appalling abuse.
“Honestly, call ourselves a nation of animal lovers?” says O’Grady, eyes blazing. “There was a little Staffie bull terrier called Sparkle. She’d been dumped in a suitcase with a polythene bag over her – just to make sure – and she was literally a skeleton with skin when they found her. Another Staffie had a trench all round his face where they’d put barbed wire round his muzzle.
“How is that not a serious crime? If there’s a prosecution, the perpetrators only get banned from keeping a dog for three years. No! Ban them for life. If someone can do that to a dog it’s not such a big leap to do it to a human. I know this from my time working in social services. Dogs and kids are both vulnerable creatures who depend on us and cruelty is cruelty.
“What we’re seeing more of now is cruelty perpetrated by kids which is very worrying because they seem to have no conscience about it. And you wouldn’t believe the excuses people give for bringing a dog in. ‘He chewed my curtains’ or ‘This dog doesn’t go with my carpet’. Unbeleivable.
“I sound off about it all the time and then the producer will say, ‘That was beautifully put Paul “I sound off about it all the time and then the producer will say, ‘That was beautifully put Paul but this goes out at 8pm and we can’t advocate shooting people or stringing them up. Can you say it again but tone it down? Now I just give a look and go all thin-lipped. The viewers know what I’m thinking. You can say a lot with an image.”
The association with O’Grady, one of the most popular celebrities of the age – has done Battersea no harm at all. Whenever For The Love Of Dogs is on its website crashes, the switchboard goes into meltdown and donations pour in. It also made him an obvious choice (along with fellow dog lover Amanda Holden) to front the Buy One, Feed One campaign launched today by Pedigree, the pet food firm. For every pack of dog food sold the company will donate a meal to a re-homing centre. The target is to feed a million rescue dogs.
“It’s brilliant and so simple,” says O’Grady. “Every time you buy food for your own dog you know a rescue dog will get a good meal too.”