2012 has seen a whole host of dogs and cats from Battersea Dogs & Cats Home hit the headlines, as a bus-boarding Dalmatian, animals named after Olympic champions, and the charity’s oldest ever dog captured the nation's imagination.
Every year Battersea cares for nearly 9,000 animals, each with their own heart breaking, challenging or inspirational story. As well as winning a special place in a new owners’ heart, many of these dogs and cats go on to become international superstars. Here, Battersea rounds up the homeless dogs and cats that made the news in 2012:
It’s not every day that a Dalmatian hops on the No.63 bus in Peckham, but that’s exactly what happened with one year old Annabelle at the start of the year. Luckily a helpful passenger brought her to Battersea, and her story quickly hit the headlines. After reading about her in a Sunday paper, Dalmatian enthusiasts David and Tina Hawkins headed to London from Leighton Buzzard, and Annabelle became part of their Dalmatian family, alongside Harvey and former Battersea dog Khan.
This month saw Nickleby the Jack Russell hit the spotlight, thanks to Uggie, the canine star of silent movie The Artist. The film won accolades at the Baftas and Oscars, and audiences fell in love with four-legged actor Uggie the Jack Russell. On the night of both the Baftas and the Oscars a record-breaking number of people searched for Jack Russells on Battersea’s website. Nickleby was a stray who was pictured in several newspapers, and quickly found a starring role in the Dean family’s home, after they made a 130-mile round trip from Oxfordshire to rehome him.
Felix the cat had been missing for almost two years before arriving at Battersea as a stray in March. His owner Nicholas Cochonneau had almost given up hope of seeing him again, but thankfully Felix was microchipped, which enabled Battersea to get in touch with his owner when he arrived. Felix was among just 5% of cats who arrive at Battersea with a microchip, but his story highlighted just how vital they are when pets go missing.
While it takes an average of 45 days to find a new home for a Battersea dog, some have to wait in kennels for much longer. Princess the Staffordshire Bull Terrier waited for over a year to find her happy-ever-after, before she caught the eye of Staffie-lovers Mary Cromwell and Jimmy Hiley from Egham. Before she left she had totted up 377 days in kennels, which is three years in dog years.
In May Battersea revealed the most popular pet names, with traditional names proving popular, as owners followed trends set by parents of new babies. Charlie, Jack, Alfie, Lily and Ruby were all in the top 10 names for animals and babies, and Charlie was the most popular name for both male dogs and cats. Among them were Charlie the 11 year old stray cat who was left at Battersea’s gates with a note from his former owner, and Jack the cat, whose owner couldn’t afford him. Happily both have now been rehomed.
When Janet and Anna the Mongrels arrived at Battersea Brands Hatch they were a whopping 61kg each, and in order to slim down to their ideal weight of 35 – 45kg they were quickly put on personal training programmes. The pair got stuck into new healthy “weight woofers” diets and donned doggy sweatbands for their workouts. By September they were well on their way to new svelte figures, and the pair were rehomed by a lady from Surrey.
As Wimbledon-fever swept the nation, Battersea’s dogs appealed to the canine companions of Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic to help them bag some new tennis balls. Santana the Staffie was among the tennis ball-loving hounds hoping for some new toys. Soon donations were flooding in for Santana and his four-legged friends, including some from the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, and Andy Murray himself paid the Home a special visit just 48 hours after the Wimbledon final to donate some tennis balls.
In August some rather unusual names started appearing in the kennels and catteries, as Battersea named animals after GB gold medal winners in the Olympics and Paralympic Games. Among them were Mo the Staffie, named after Mo Farah and Rutherford the Golden Retriever, named after Greg Rutherford. There were also 13 week old Bolt and Blake, two tiny kittens at Battersea Brands Hatch, who pulled poses just like Jamaican champions Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake. Another sporty dog to grab the headlines was Rory the Staffie, who accompanied England footballer Michael Owen carrying the Olympic torch through Battersea’s London centre.
In September the nation were glued to their TVs for the seven-part ITV1 series Paul O’Grady. For the Love of Dogs. In the show Paul met some of the dogs arriving at Battersea, each with their own challenging, sorrowful or heart-warming story. As well as Carmine, a Boxer who Paul fell in love with, there was Sparkle the Staffie, who was found abandoned in a London park, severely emaciated and in urgent need of help. After lots of love and care Sparkle got back to full health and was rehomed to a couple from Clacton-on-Sea, and her name became one of the most popular topics on Twitter when her episode of the show aired.
In October Blackie the 19 year old Mongrel become the oldest dog to ever arrive at Battersea. At 133 in human years, Blackie was by far the oldest canine in the charity’s kennels. His web profile soon caught the eye of Shirley Buchanan from Durham, and Blackie now enjoys life 270 miles away with Shirley and her two dogs, Hope and Breeze. His story attracted media coverage across the country, and Shirley and Blackie are now familiar local faces after appearing on TV and radio stations.
The age old saying ‘fighting like dogs and cats’ was dispelled in November by a pair of unlikely friends at Battersea Old Windsor. Buttons the dog and Kitty the cat were both abandoned from a very young age and were hand-reared together, sleeping, playing and feeding as a pair. Their story hit headlines around the world, with offers to rehome them coming in from the USA, Australia and Dubai. However it was a lucky family from Colchester who rehomed the famous pair.
In December HRH The Duchess of Cornwall visited Battersea, accompanied by Beth and Bluebell, the two Jack Russell Terriers she rehomed from the charity. During her visit the Duchess met staff who cared for the pair while they were at Battersea, as well as touring the facilities for dogs and meeting Battersea Ambassador Paul O’Grady. However it was Jenny the Jack Russell who caught the Duchess’ attention during a very special Doggy Guard of Honour, as dogs from the charity assembled to wave her farewell.
Find out how to rehome your own four-legged superstar from Battersea by contacting 0843 509 4444 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org