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Long stay Husky swaps kennels for care homes and wins top prize at Battersea’s Annual Reunion and Fun Day

A four year old Husky from Orpington, Kent stole the show and was given the ultimate accolade of being crowned Battersea Dogs & Cats Home’s Best Battersea Dog, which was sponsored by notonthehighstreet.com, at the charity’s Annual Reunion and Fun Day on Sunday 6 September.

Almost ten thousand animal lovers and their canine companions were in Battersea Park to enjoy the spectacle and make new friends.

Husky Pan won the hearts of the judges in the hotly contested Best Battersea Dog competition, and came out as ‘top dog’ on the day. Pan was rehomed two years ago from Battersea’s Brands Hatch centre after being its longest stay dog at 300 days, before she was rehomed by Georgina and Ian Barnard from Orpington, Kent. They saw Pan’s photo on Battersea’s website and just had to meet her, not realising how much she desperately needed a home. Pan will now become one of the rescue centre’s “Ambassadogs”, joining other worthy winners of the Best Battersea Dog title who have overcome adversity to lead happy lives.

Pan had an extremely difficult start to her young life, after she was kept outside in a yard and never allowed indoors. She arrived at Battersea Brands Hatch with a filthy coat and a fear of being left alone, so she needed a lot of help with her behaviour. Staff at the Kent centre knew it would take a lot of love and patience before Pan could ever settle into a new home, and this meant she had a long wait for her new home – over ten times longer than the average stay for a Battersea dog.

Pan’s owner Georgina explains: “We had no idea how hard it had been for Pan and when we met her we just knew we had to rescue her. There was so much work to do – we couldn’t even leave her for ten minutes without her becoming destructive in our house because she hated being alone. I think she didn’t believe we would come back home, but with lots of patience and love she soon realised that we were her family for good.”

Not only has Pan now settled into her new home but she also spends her time helping others. Georgina continues: “People don’t always understand how much you can love your dog - they’re your family - and we would do anything for Pan. It has been small steps but now she’s the perfect pet. She’s even a registered Pets as Therapy dog and in our spare time we take her to schools, hospitals and care homes to meet people - she’s just brilliant. I was nearly in tears when she won Best Battersea Dog - Pan so deserves it.”

Thousands of owners and dogs, including children’s author and Battersea Ambassador Dame Jacqueline Wilson, attended the Fun Day to show their support for Battersea.

Dame Jacqueline said: “Battersea rehomes around 6000 animals every year to loving families, and it’s been wonderful to see so many happy and healthy rescue dogs reunite for the Annual Reunion and Fun Day in Battersea Park. I’ve really enjoyed meeting these former Battersea dogs and hearing some of their emotional stories, what they’ve overcome and how well they’re doing in their new homes. It was tough judging the classes because I wanted everyone to win, but the winners truly deserved the titles and I hope we’ll see them again next year.”

All dogs are welcome at the Battersea event and other canine competitors who were crowned champions at the Fun Day included 15 year old Lolly, a Staffie from Kent, and her owner Gillian Andrews who won Golden Oldie, and Marzipan the Mongrel who won the Obedience Elimination and showed off her best tricks, with owner Miro Civin from North London.

Battersea’s Chief Executive Claire Horton said: “The Annual Reunion is always a special event for Battersea and it has been a wonderful day – the crowds came out in full force to show their support for our animals and we’ve had more visitors than ever before this year. People have travelled huge distances to join the fun and it’s been overwhelming how much support people have for Battersea. It’s always lovely to see ex-Battersea dogs happy in their new homes and hear from their new families about the difference they’ve made to their lives.”

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