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Dog haven marks birthday with a growl

Not counting the House of Commons, the loudest yelping and snarling to be heard in London emanates from another riverside institution. The world renowned and royally patronaged Battersea Dogs Home is celebrating its 125th anniversary with warning growls about overcrowding and shortage of money.

This year's anniversary coincides with the renewal of a contentious issue dogging the British government -- whether to abolish or increase a tiny annual license fee largely ignored by British pet lovers.

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Queen Elizabeth, Scotland Yard, and thousands of donors are all involved in the future of the Battersea home.

``The Queen, our patron, occasionally visits us privately because she will never be seen crying in public,'' manager William Taylor says.

There is plenty to be emotional about in the rows of kennels where dogs of every breed, or none at all, beg for new homes or lost families.

It is more difficult to buy a dog from Battersea than from the average pet shop. Purchasers are checked for suitability and inspectors visit their homes to make sure the animal is in friendly hands.

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