The Battersea Dogs and Cats Home was formerly known as Battersea Dogs Home. Upon its foundation by Mary Tealby, in 1860, it was originally named the Temporary Home for Lost and Starving Dogs. From its original location in Holloway, it moved to Battersea in 1871, where it has remained since, in the vicinity of Battersea Park and Battersea Power Station. While today we have grown accustomed to notions of pampered and spoiled pooches, in the 19th century a dog’s life was tough. Rabies outbreaks instilled a fear of dogs in the public and they were subject to being shot and being stoned. Moreover, healthy dogs were often pitted against each other in dogfights. Against this heart-breaking backdrop, the Victorian era witnessed a shift in attitudes.
As a member of the RSPCA, Mary Tealby was no stranger to a concern for animals’ wellbeing. Responding to and ultimately shaping the public’s sentiments towards animal welfare, Tealby was struck by the plight of a dog whom she witnessed starving to death. Resolved to founding a “canine asylum,” her idea reached fruition following her divorce from her husband in 1860. A pioneer in female empowerment and animal welfare, Tealby was targeted by neighbours of the Temporary Home for Lost and Starving Dogs. The nation’s press also waded in against her, ridiculing her idea for a “home for dogs.” Despite early troubles, this year the Battersea Dogs and Cats Home will celebrate 160 years in operation!
The Battersea Dogs and Cats Home Today
In 2018, Battersea tended to the care of 7,000 animals, while 1,225 were reunited with their owners. On average, 16 animals were admitted to the three Battersea centres each day. Moreover, the animal shelter provided 15 local authorities with training through its stray dog support programme. Additionally, a total of 463 dogs were supported with external foster care. The animal shelter charity also reported a 2% increase in dog rehoming.