07:30PM, Thursday 08 January 2015
Battersea Dogs and Cats Home is gearing up for another year of caring for and rehoming animals, following a busy festive period. Express reporter Philip Dewey visited the charity's Old Windsor centre to find out more about its work.
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Looking after animals must be one of the most rewarding jobs, and the smile on the faces of staff at Battersea Dogs and Cats Home confirms this.
I was lucky enough to be invited to the charity's centre in Priest Hill, Old Windsor, on Wednesday to speak to those who dedicate their lives to caring for animals without a home, and to meet a few furry friends along the way.
The centre has been open for 35 years and is currently home to 75 dogs and 45 cats.
There are 65 staff members working there in total, including rehomers, members of the animal welfare team, and the clinic team, as well as two full-time vets.
I was taken on a tour of the kennels by senior rehomer Hannah Gee, who has been working at Battersea Old Windsor for four years, and she explained the role she plays at the charity.
"It's a very varied role," she said. "I'm the team leader so I oversee the day-to-day rehoming department, making sure customers are happy and that we are rehoming dogs and cats to the best homes for them, as well as keeping up to date with promotions around the centre."
On the tour, I met nine-year-old Jack Russell Poppy, four-year-old Lurcher Bud, nine-month-old Rottweiler cross Tinker Bell, four-month-old mongrel Buster, two-year-old golden retriever Blondie and one-year-old mongrel Reggie.
One character who stood out was Mya, a two-year-old Siberian husky cross, who was pining for her fellow husky Kai who had been taken for a walk, and cheered up when he returned.
Talking about the most rewarding and challenging parts of the job, Hannah said: "It's great to see to see dogs and cats being rehomed because that's what we're here for and there's nothing better.
"It's sad to see animals who haven't had the best start in life or stray dogs who have not been looked after, but whenever the staff feel down there is something to pick you back up again."
A look behind the scenes at Battersea has been provided by TV star Paul O'Grady in his popular ITV series For The Love of Dogs.
Hannah said: "It's had a positive impact on us and we are seeing more people coming to look around.
"Even people in Maidenhead didn't know we existed so it has really helped to get us out there."
While its TV stardom has helped to raise awareness of Battersea, the centre still relies on help from volunteers and generous donations, as the charity does not receive any central government funding.
Support from the public means the staff can continue their invaluable work to give animals the chance to enjoy a new life in a new home.
Visit www.battersea.org.uk for more information.
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