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Paul O’Grady: For the Love of Dogs: Paul O’Grady’s For the Love of Dogs: Back in Business (S9EP ITV Wed 15 Jul 2020)

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"I’m having a complete mental battle, I’d like to take them all really. But I can’t. It’s not practical!" Paul O’Grady

Paul O’Grady is back at Battersea Dogs & Cats Home for this brand new 60-minute special, filmed during one of the most dramatic periods in its history. After lockdown, it’s back to the business of re-homing it’s many furry residents. But back in March it was a very different story and we join Paul and the team as they worked against the clock to find families and temporary foster carers for dogs and cats before the sites were closed to the public.

After eight years of rolling up his sleeves at Battersea for this award-winning series, Paul isn’t fazed by much. But nothing could have prepared him for the challenge that awaited, to desperately try and evacuate and rehome more than 80 animals in record time. Since Battersea opened its doors 160 years ago, this is the very first time it has had to close to the public.

With his own underlying health conditions, Paul is preparing to retreat to Kent for his own essential self-isolation. But first, it’s all hands on deck at Battersea and Paul joins the staff onsite to discuss the plan going forward.

With all three sites closing imminently, the priority is to rehome as many animals into temporary homes as possible in the coming days.

Despite having five dogs at home already, Paul doesn’t need to be asked to become a foster parent twice, stepping straight up to the mark:

"Who am I going to take home? I feel like Charlie in the Chocolate Factory! I don’t know where to start."

He meets a litter of Jack Russell pups, just six-weeks-old, who have been hand-reared at home by Battersea staff. Dude and his four sisters – Lola, Bumble, Hettie and little Dinky – who crawls straight inside Paul’s coat. True to form, Paul is instantly besotted…

Battersea would usually wait until puppies are eight-weeks-old before finding homes for them but due to the current unprecedented situation they need to fast-track the process.

Paul also meets an adorable four-month-old Bichon Frise pup called Bobby, whose owners have brought him into Battersea after realising they didn’t have enough time to train and care for him.

Paul says: "He’s a bit wriggly but very friendly…"

A crucial stage in a pup’s learning and development is between two to three months, so Bobby needs to be assessed by the team. Paul takes him outside to see how he responds to noises and other dogs.

Battersea Dog Handler Casey then gives him the once over, but there is still the small matter of some delicate surgery required before Bobby can be rehomed. Paul tells him: "Come on fella, we have to have a little chat. I don’t know how to break this to him gently…You’re going to have a little kip and when you wake up, you’re missing two things. But you’re better off without them."

As lockdown looms, Paul also takes a rare trip over to the dark side to meet some of Battersea’s homeless cats who will also be hugely impacted by the closure.

Michelle updates Paul on plans for the cats in Battersea in preparation for lockdown as they try to safely rehome as many as they possibly can.

Paul explains: "People think I don’t like cats but that’s not true. The reason I haven’t got one is because I’ve got a pack of mad dogs who would drive the poor cat mad."

After feeding dinner to two-month-old Tabby kitten Willow, Paul attempts to befriend a standoffish British long-haired cat called Bear. Bear is a long-term resident of Battersea due to a diagnosis of FIV (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus), which cannot be passed to humans but could be passed to other cats, making rehoming him even more challenging.

Meanwhile at the Windsor site, the staff are preparing for some new arrivals after a pregnant cat called Nala arrives, due to give birth at any moment. Staff keep a careful eye on her during the night using a night vision camera. It takes around one hour to deliver each kitten and by morning Nala is soon the proud mum of five! While Battersea is closed the tiny kittens and their mum will all need to be looked after by a carefully selected foster family.

As the Staff continue to tirelessly call everyone who might be able to adopt or foster an animal while Battersea is closed, Paul realises that this is his moment to do the right thing:

"I’m not doing this for me you understand, this is all to help Battersea. I’m a very selfless man…."

Airdate: Wed 15 Jul 2020 at 8.00pm on ITV

Season 9 Episode