Paul O’Grady was an ambassador for Battersea Dogs and Cats Home for the last 10 years of his life.

The animal shelter has paid tribute to O’Grady as a “devoted animal lover” and a “champion for the underdog” following his death.

The TV presenter died “unexpectedly but peacefully”, his husband Andre Portasio said.

O’Grady became an ambassador for Battersea in 2012 following the success of ITV’s multi-award-winning For The Love Of Dogs, which was filmed at the home.

Peeblesshire News: Paul O'Grady has been praised by Battersea for his work with the charityPaul O'Grady has been praised by Battersea for his work with the charity (Image: PA Wire/PA Images)

Battersea release statement following death of ambassador Paul O'Grady

He presented the show for 11 series, showing his “passion for all things dog”, the charity said.

In a special one-off episode of the programme last year which marked 160 years of the organisation, O’Grady was joined by the Queen Consort.

The Royal Family took to Twitter to share a message of condolence along with a picture of Camilla and Paul with a small dog.

The tweet reads: “Deeply saddened to hear of the death of Paul O’Grady, who worked closely with Her Majesty in support of @Battersea_, providing lots of laughter and many waggy-tailed memories.”

In a statement shared with the PA news agency, Battersea chief executive Peter Laurie said the home was “joining the nation” in mourning the loss of O’Grady, who helped raise its profile to millions around the world.

“Battersea will forever remember Paul as a devoted animal lover with the biggest heart, who fell head over heels in love with every dog he met at our centres,” he said.

“Paul will always be associated with Battersea and we are truly saddened to have lost such a true friend and huge part of our charity.”

He continued: “Paul had an extremely hands-on approach as a Battersea ambassador and has been fundamental in helping our charity to communicate important campaign messages.

“He was a champion for the underdog and would do anything to ensure all animals live a healthy and happy life. He will be dearly missed.”

At the 2018 National Television Awards, O’Grady received a special recognition award for the impact For The Love Of Dogs had on helping find homes for rescue animals nationwide.

During an interview during the first series in September 2012, he said it was “hand on heart… one of the nicest jobs I’ve ever had” and praised the home as “a magical place”.

Peeblesshire News: The Queen Consort featured in a special one-off episode of For The Love Of Dogs with Paul O'Grady last yearThe Queen Consort featured in a special one-off episode of For The Love Of Dogs with Paul O'Grady last year (Image: PA)

Ali Taylor, who appeared alongside O’Grady in the series, said the presenter met “hundreds if not thousands” of dogs during his time working with Battersea but never lost his “infectious enthusiasm and interest in getting to know them all individually”.

O’Grady also personally rehomed several dogs at his Kent farmhouse.

During the first series of For The Love Of Dogs he took home Eddie, a Chihuahua Jack Russell-cross puppy.

Eddie was joined by Boycie, a shih-tzu in 2014, Conchita, a Maltese in 2015, Arfur, a mongrel puppy in 2017, Nancy, another mongrel puppy in 2020, and Sausage, a wire-haired dachshund in 2021.

Mr Laurie added: “Paul loved Battersea so much and we cannot thank him enough for everything he did for our charity and for rescue animals worldwide.

“We will forever be indebted to him for his endless generosity and support.”