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Exclusive Interview with Head of Canine Behaviour and Training at Battersea Dogs & Cats Home

Battersea staff member hugs Jack Russell dog-happy
© Battersea Dogs and Cats Home

The Battersea Dogs and Cats Home is one of the UK’s most popular rescue centres for pets. Founded in 1860 as the ‘Temporary Home for Lost and Starving Dogs’, it has come a long way in its 157 years of work. Battersea is now open to dogs AND cats, with, as its core value, to never turn away an animal in need. The charity has cared for more than 3.1 million animals since it opened its doors. 

By Justine Seraphin , 19 Apr 2019

Between helping lost animals find their homes, caring for rescued animals, helping animals get into foster care, training animals, educating the public, raising funds, and conducting animal welfare projects, Battersea is all over the map in the UK, and its notoriety is understandable. 

All the staff members I’ve ever met at Battersea have been lovely people, who were very clearly in love with animals, passionate about their welfare, and very serious when it came to maintaining it. They want what’s best for each and everyone of the animals in their care – and that will always come first for them. 

Bright-eyed and gentle-natured Ali Taylor is the Head of Canine Behaviour and Training at Battersea London. We were recently lucky enough to speak to her about her work there. 

Wamiz UK: How long have you been working at/involved with Battersea?

Ali Taylor: I’ve been at Battersea for over 26 years.

W: How did you get involved?

A: After coming back from travelling, I applied for a few jobs to try and save more money to travel abroad again. However, I got a job as a kennel hand at Battersea and haven’t looked back since.

W: Have there been many emotional moments in that time?

A: Yes, Battersea always will be a place that’s full of laughter and tears. There’s nothing better than seeing our animals going home, particularly those that have been with us a long time and had a long journey to recovery, but we also see some heart-breaking sights when animals first arrive with us. Last year, a British Bulldog called Enid, was found as a stray and was brought in to Battersea. She was approx. 1-2 years old and arrived in a terrible state, it was awful to see. She had been poorly bred and cared for, and as a result, she was underweight, had no hip sockets so unable to sit or walk properly. Her skin was inflamed and infected and her eyes were ulcerated. I took her on as foster dog to help her recovery, but I decided I couldn’t give her back and she hasn’t left me since.

W: Any funny stories about things that have happened?

A: Whilst filming the sixth series of Paul O’Grady: For the Love of Dogs last year, we followed the story of Ben the Beagle. I was convinced he’d make the perfect sniffer dog, however I was soon proved wrong, and he had Paul and I in stitches of laughter at his attempt to search for objects.  

 W: Can you talk us through a typical day at Battersea or is there no such thing?

A: No two days are ever the same at Battersea. But for my team, it usually consists of assessing the behaviour of dogs, to designing care plans, or providing aftercare advice to people who have rehomed dogs from the charity.

W: How do you feel when you see an animal being restored back to full health and rehomed?

A: It’s amazing to see the work our Veterinary team can achieve. I’ll never forget a dog called Sparkle, a Staffie who was found abandoned, cowering in a suitcase in a severely emaciated condition just over six years ago. Our Veterinary team said she was one of the worst cases of neglect they had seen in over 20 years, however thanks to their hard work, we were able to restore her back to full health and she was rehomed to a lovely family in Essex.

W: Do you become attached to the animals? Have you had any particular favourites?

A: It’s hard not to become attached, since starting at Battersea over 26 years ago, I’ve rehomed 27 dogs and have fostered over 1,000. 

W: Are there long-term inmates that find it hard to get a forever home?

A: Yes plenty, Battersea puts no time limit on how long we will care for an animal until it finds a new home, and we’ve regularly had dogs stay with us for over a year through no fault of their own. We often find ex-racing Greyhounds to be overlooked because of people’s perception they need a lot of exercise. However, this isn’t the case at all. Lots of our Greyhounds are real coach potatoes and love nothing more than snoozing in their beds. One Greyhound cross, Bud, that springs to mind, was with us for over 1000 days before he found a loving home in the West Midlands.

W: What’s the best thing about working at Battersea?

A: Seeing the commitment of Battersea staff. Whether it’s people directly caring for dogs and cats, our Veterinary team providing lifesaving treatment, or people working in the office, everyone gives their all to the charity. 

W: Any drawbacks?

A: Not being able to rehome all the dogs I fall in love with!

Battersea truly does amazing work for animals. Their programs are perfectly tailored to the needs of their patients, and staff so dedicated to their well-being. Hearing Ali talk makes us want to stop typing right now and head over to Battersea to give the staff and pups a helping hand! Thank you for everything, Battersea.


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