Paul O’Grady’s For the Love of Dogs has introduced viewers to hundreds of homeless hounds at Battersea Dogs & Cats Home – but host O’Grady says some of the footage is so upsetting it can’t be broadcast.
Speaking at the National Television Awards, O’Grady told RadioTimes.com that of all the stories his team captures on camera, “Some we don’t use because they’re too tragic in the end, they really are. It’s heartbreaking sometimes. And that happens quite a lot.
“And I go home and plot, have I got room for that dog?”
With six series of For the Love of Dogs under his belt, O’Grady has managed to build up quite a large pack of dogs, with another mongrel – Minnie – about to join the family alongside her little puppy.
The ITV show focuses on the good work by the volunteers and workers at Battersea, who take in abandoned pups and turn their lives around.
Explaining the show’s popularity which earned him the Special Recognition award at the NTAs, the TV personality said: “It’s quite a kind programme, you know? You’ll get a sick dog who’s made well again and has a happy ending. There’s nothing nasty about it.”
But there is something nasty about cruelty to dogs – and O’Grady will not stand for it.
“I get so annoyed with the way people treat animals, because I’m absolutely passionate about animals,” he said. “Always have been. And I can’t bear cruelty to animals, or kids. I really can’t stand it.
“And I’m constantly at people, do NOT go near a puppy farm. Do not buy dogs on the internet. Because you’re only going to get sick dogs, sick puppies that have been inbred, with all sorts of health problems, and I really hope people listen to me. Go to a reputable breeder or better still, go to a dog’s home and get your dog.”
So how does he deal with the emotional side of getting up close and personal with so much mistreatment?
“It’s terrible,” he admitted, with a laugh. “I remember there was a year where I was doing the Salvation Army, the dogs, god knows what else. Every job was tragic. I’d be going home, battered from seeing abuse to humans and to animals.”
But, he added, “That’s what drives me on, to tell you the truth. To try and make it a better world for them, and I don’t want that to sound pretentious but you know, if I can just open people’s eyes and say, this is the work these people do to make these dogs healthy again and find them a home. Please be kind to animals.”