Dogs & Cats Home while carrying the Olympic torch.
UPDATE: Please see the note at the bottom of this post for more information about Battersea’s euthanasia policies. Thanks to Mary Kay for pointing this out.
The Olympic torch is making its way around the UK in preparation for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. When he was given the chance to carry the torch, Michael Owen chose to take it to the Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, where he was greeted by an audience of shelter animals. Although his name may not be familiar to many Americans, Owen is one of England’s most famous soccer players, as well as being a dog lover. (At home, he has two French Bulldogs and three Staffordshire-Bull-Terriers.)
Having such a big sports celebrity shine world attention on a dog shelter is important to raising awareness about the plight of shelter dogs. Battersea is a huge facility, established in 1860, caring for more than 9,000 dogs per year. It’s a remarkable operation, as the following video makes clear.
UPDATE: While Battersea does do incredible work rescuing and rehoming dogs, it’s important to point out that the video above leaves out some relevant information, as this excerpt from a Daily Telegraph story makes clear:
One third of the dogs that come to Battersea are put down either for aggression or because they are Section 1 types: illegal dogs, such as pit bull terriers, that are banned by law. Section 1 typing is based on physical characteristics rather than temperament, and such a dog is identified by sight by a police officer. Because the dogs are crossbred so often, they may contain only slight traces of the banned breed, and Battersea staff do not always know that they have a Section 1-type dog in their kennels until police mark it for destruction.
Battersea does oppose breed-specific legislation, but they comply with the laws regarding pit bulls and other banned breeds. They also euthanize for reasons of health and temperament.