The Duchess of Cornwall has officially opened a veterinary hospital and centre of excellence at Battersea Dogs and Cats Home’s London branch.

A commemorative plaque was unveiled by the duchess – along with comedian Paul O’Grady, who presents Paul O’Grady: For the Love of Dogs at Battersea – on 7 September to mark the opening of the hospital.

The Duchess of Cornwall and Paul O’Grady reveal the commemorative plaque.

The new hospital features:

  • three operating theatres
  • a dedicated dental suite
  • new intensive care areas
  • sound-proofed recovery wards with separate space for dogs and cats

Place of transformation

Prior to the hospital opening, Battersea’s 32 veterinary staff were performing about 70 operations a week in two operating theatres, as well as performing approximately 150 dental procedures per month.

Battersea chief executive Claire Horton said: “Our new veterinary hospital and centre of excellence will help us realise our ambition to help more dogs and cats – and not just those within our centres, as this world-leading facility will enable us to welcome and train staff from rescue and rehoming organisations all over the world.

“The new veterinary hospital is a place of transformation and hope where even the most neglected and abused dogs and cats can be put back on four paws by our dedicated staff before they are found a new loving home.

“We look forward to an exciting future working to transform the well-being of dogs and cats across the UK and beyond.”

Missing piece of the jigsaw

Shaun Opperman has been Battersea’s veterinary director for the past 24 years. He said: “Working at Battersea as a vet is very different to working in general practice, as so many animals come to us as strays, without any medical history.

“We are perhaps more reliant on diagnostic procedures, such as radiography, ultrasound or laboratory work in the first instance, to fill in the missing pieces of the jigsaw, to be able to diagnose any problems before being able to return them to full health.

“Our previous clinic was struggling to cope with the 8,000 dogs and cats coming through our doors – many the innocent victims of neglect, overbreeding or puppy farming.

“Every aspect of our new veterinary hospital and centre of excellence is designed to help us treat greater numbers of animals with more complicated surgical needs. Our new facilities will speed up treatment and recovery to give each and every rescue dog and cat a chance of a new life as quickly as possible.”

The duchess has two Battersea dogs of her own – Jack Russell terriers Bluebell and Beth, which she adopted in 2011 and 2012, respectively.

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