Home Pets A History of Battersea Dogs and Cats Home

A History of Battersea Dogs and Cats Home


Firstly, did you know that Battersea Dogs’ Home was the world’s first dog rescue centre?

Britain is a nation of animal lovers. In fact it is the birthplace of the first-ever shelter for lost, abandoned and abused dogs, which is something to be proud of. Battersea or “The Temporary Home for Lost and Starving Dogs” was founded in 1861. The first home had a meagre start in some stables in Holloway in London. The home was the brainchild of Mrs Mary Tealby, who left Hull in the mid-1850s to live in London. One day in 1860, she was visiting a friend who had that day tried, and failed, to save the life of a sick stray dog.

The idea was to help the lost and stray dogs of London. Mary Tealby was quickly overwhelmed by the number of dogs in her care. There was a desperate need to create a “canine asylum”. Starting with just 40 dogs and a paid Head Keeper, the home was always going to be costly to run. In addition to donations, an innovative boarding service for affluent patrons was put in place!

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Charles Dickens

But perhaps one of the most useful events early in the home’s life was when it received the endorsement of Charles Dickens! He visited and was most impressed with the facilities and the efforts of the “band of humane-disposed persons”. Dickens’ support was crucial in turning public opinion in favour of the home. When the residents of Holloway complained about the noise and smell, a new home was desperately needed. A location close to railway lines was picked, so it would drown out the noise. This was Battersea Park and they opened in 1871.

In 1883, a name change occurred and “Battersea Dogs Home” also accepted cats! When Queen Victoria donated to the home and became its Patron in 1885, the home’s future was almost certainly secure. To mark her Diamond Jubilee, the home opened a country retreat in Surrey. This retreat reduced the number of dogs being euthanised and gave them more time to find homes. The idea was innovative and again showed the home leading the way in the field of animal rescue. In 2002, it was renamed once again, to “Battersea Dogs and Cats Home“.

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160 Year History

In the course of its remarkable 160-year history, Battersea has evolved from a humble beginning in rented stables to become the world’s first animal rescue centre. Today, it stands as a beacon of best practices and compassion, setting the standard for rescue centres worldwide. Battersea has a capacity for 350 dogs and a legacy built on the dedication of its founders. They continue to inspire and guide the efforts of local rescue organisations, such as North Clwyd Animal Rescue in Flintshire. This ensures that the noble cause of helping lost and abandoned pets carries on.

Finally, for more pet articles, click here, or to visit Karen Boyce’s website, click here.

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