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For the love of Paul O’Grady

Paul O'Grady at Battersea Cats and Dogs home. Holding his dog.

For the love of Paul O’Grady

Paul O’Grady, a beloved British comedian, television presenter, and animal welfare advocate, passed away on March 22, 2023. His death was met with an outpouring of grief from fans and colleagues, who remembered him as a kind and generous person who used his platform to advocate for animals in need.

The Swish London team have been huge fans of Paul for many years. From his trail blazing work as a drag queen in The Royal Vauxhall Tavern to his endless work with animal charities. We are all very sad to hear of his passing but what a legacy he’s left behind.

O’Grady was a lifelong animal lover, and his passion for dogs was well-known. He was a patron of several dog charities, including the Blue Cross, which provides veterinary care and support to sick, injured, and homeless pets. O’Grady was a vocal supporter of the charity’s work, and often lent his voice to fundraising campaigns and awareness-raising events.

One of O’Grady’s most enduring legacies was his television programme, For the Love of Dogs. The show, which first aired in 2012, followed O’Grady as he visited Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, a rescue centre in London, and interacted with the animals there. The programme was a huge success, and its heartwarming stories of dogs finding new homes touched the hearts of millions of viewers.

For O’Grady, For the Love of Dogs was more than just a television show

It was a way to shine a light on the important work being done by rescue centres like Battersea. In an interview with the BBC, he explained: “I’ve always been an animal lover, and when I found out what Battersea does – they never put a dog down – I thought, ‘I want to get involved in this’.”

Over the course of the show’s ten seasons, O’Grady became something of a spokesperson for rescue dogs, using his platform to raise awareness of the plight of homeless pets and encourage viewers to consider adopting from shelters rather than buying from breeders.

But O’Grady’s dedication to animal welfare went beyond his work with For the Love of Dogs. He was a vocal critic of animal testing and a supporter of campaigns to ban the practice. He also spoke out against puppy farms and advocated for tougher legislation to protect dogs from cruel and inhumane breeding practices.

In 2016, O’Grady was awarded an OBE for his services to entertainment and charity. Speaking to reporters after the ceremony, he said: “I’m chuffed to bits – I never thought I’d get anything like this. But I don’t see it as being for me, really – it’s for all the people who work tirelessly for animal charities.”

The news of O’Grady’s death has been met with an outpouring of grief from fans and colleagues, who remember him as a kind and generous person who used his platform to do good in the world. The Blue Cross, one of the charities he supported, tweeted: “We are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of our patron, Paul O’Grady. He was a true champion of animal welfare and made a huge difference to the lives of countless animals. He will be sorely missed.”

For those who knew O’Grady, his death is a profound loss. But his legacy – as a comedian, a presenter, and an advocate for animal welfare – will live on. As he once said of his work with Battersea,

“It’s not about me, it’s about the dogs. And if we can help even one of them find a loving home, then it’s all worth it.”

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