A few weeks ago I received an email from the girls over at Boohoo, an online clothing retailer. They had chosen Fashion Foie Gras, along with four other blogs to spread a message about love for Valentine's Day. They, with no strings attached, said they were sending me £200 to spend as I wished on myself or a loved on. Admittedly, there were a few things that came to mind when I thought about spoiling myself just ahead of fashion week. However, there was one thought that was more powerful.
When I think of true, unconditional love, my mind always goes straight to the animals I have had in my life. You all know already that I said goodbye to Bodey Dog last month and as I don't have a puppy to cuddle this Valentine's Day, I wanted to do something to honour his memory. The best way I could think of to "share the love" in memory of Bode-ster was by helping the dogs and cats in London that might not have their own human to cuddle this Valentine's Day. So I jumped on email and sent a message to the PR at Battersea Dogs and Cats Home in London. I explained the situation and told her I basically wanted to purchase and deliver some special Valentine's treats for the dogs and cats in the kennels. I was sent a list of the animals' favourite treats and toys and off I went to the pet store, where I filled two trollies and an entire taxi cab full of goodies.
I arrived at Battersea Dogs and Cats Home at lunchtime and had a tour of the amazing facility. To say I was touched by what I saw would be the understatement of the year. As I walked around and was introduced to dozens of dogs and cats, it was difficult not to offer to take them all home to become a member of the Fashion Foie Gras family. But then again, I did feel as if they all had their own little family there in the shelter. You see, Battersea has the most amazing network of volunteers. In fact, there are 782 volunteers in total that donate their time to caring for the animals. Several of the volunteers were there as I made my way around. Some had just come back from taking dogs on walks and others were in the kennels on the floors with the pups, petting them and reassuring them that they are loved. For many dogs and cats, these volunteers are their family until they find their perfect home.
Speaking of the perfect home, I truly did feel as if Battersea Dogs and Cats Home was a sort of match.com for humans and animals. Each pet had a profile sheet that was printed and posted outside their kennel door. This sheet listed everything from playing habits to city living preferences, and all these need to match exactly with a potential owner for an animal to be placed in a new home.
Just to really drive the point home, here are a few impressive facts and figures about Battersea Dogs and Cats Home:
- In 2011 the Home cared for 8,904 dogs and cats. It usually has around 450 dogs and 150 cats across its three sites and in foster homes at any one time. The London centre has around 240 dogs on site at any one time.
- The Home’s Lost Dogs & Cats Line has reunited over 30,000 dogs and cats with their owners since it launched 10 years ago. In 2011, Battersea reunited 1094 lost dogs and 104 lost cats with their owners.
- The average stay for a dog before it finds a home is 45 days and it is 28 days for a cat, but there is no time limit on how long an animal can stay at the Home.
- Not all Battersea dogs get rehomed as pets. Battersea also places suitable dogs in roles with the Army, RAF, HM Customs, Police and security services.
So, here's where you come in. The part I played today in donating fun treats for the pups and cats is but a small portion of what I hope to do for this wonderful organization that works so hard to ensure that all dogs and cats get a second chance.
Today, it's a day all about love and it's a day where some of us celebrate and others commiserate. However, I do believe it's a day that is about more than romantic love. So for those of you wanting to "share the love" today, may I encourage you to support a wonderful organization here in London. I asked Battersea Dogs and Cats Home what I could ask my readers to do to show support and they gave me a few suggestions. So here we go...
- First, and perhaps the easiest, you can donate to the shelter directly online. The money you donate will go to making sure that Battersea never has to turn a dog or cat away. For me, that is sharing love in the best way possible.
- Secondly, you can donate your time by volunteering at the centre.
- Thirdly, you can donate blankets, towels, toys or treats. As I made my way through the kennels, I noticed each and every animal had a lovely soft and warm pile of blankets and towels. Many were curled up and looked as if they were in seventh heaven. These are all donated and much appreciated by the shelter. So, instead of throwing away those old towels or blankets, how about putting them to good use?
- And the most important way you can help... give a dog or cat a home!