Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall has promised people will find a "friend for life" if they adopt a rescue dog or cat.
The 74-year-old royal hosted a reception to celebrate the 160th anniversary of Battersea Dogs and Cats Home - from where she adopted her own canine companions, terriers Bluebell and Beth - in the walled garden of Clarence House on Thursday (14.07.22) - and as well as meeting staff, guests, trustees and ambassadors for the organisation, she also get to pet some of the pooches, who she described as "so sweet".
Camilla was particularly delighted by an eight-week-old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel named Flora, who she admitted she would like to smuggle away in her handbag.
She said: “I can’t imagine she’ll be stuck for a home for very long."
The duchess then made an appeal to urge people to adopt from Battersea.
She said: “There are a lot of dogs and cats now at Battersea that need a home so if I could appeal to everybody listening, all of your friends, that if they want a dog or a cat, go along to Battersea and find a friend for life.”
Peter Laurie, chief executive of Battersea, thanked Camilla for the “kind and generous” support she has offered in the five years she has been royal patron.
Paul Marvell, Director of Global Programmes, admitted many pet owners have given up their animals due to the cost of living crisis, and he thinks the problem is set to get worse when gas and electricity bills go up again in the autumn.
He said: “People are now citing financial pressures as one of the reasons they are rehoming their pets. When bills go up people will be more squeezed...
“A lot of people got pets during lockdown. In the case of dogs, they didn’t have much interaction with other dogs and humans.
“There are the inevitable problems with a lack of formal training and social interaction.
“It’s hard to predict what’s going to happen. There are so many factors but the trajectory is looking like we will have more and more coming in.
“But we have long waiting lists of people wanting to adopt dogs and cats. It’s finding the right home for the right animal.
“We are very quick at rehoming. Dogs are here for four or five weeks at most.”
Guests at the event struggled with the heat, with author Dame Jacqueline Wilson needing medical attention after fainting.
When Camilla arrived, after being greeted by a "dog guard of honour", she asked aides to move the lengthy receiving line into the shade so guests could be slightly more comfortable while they waited to speak to her.
Later, the dogs were treated to bowls of Jude's Ice Cream for Dogs - which donates 5%of profits to Battersea - with staff revealing the strawberry-flavoured treat had been the duchess' idea.