Dog adoption adds furry friend to your family

Agnes (Aggie) and Lou Orme-Gee-Neave relaxing with Lou the dog.
Zoe Neave

Agnes (Aggie) and Lou Orme-Gee-Neave relaxing with Lou the dog.

Adopting a pet instead of 'shopping' for one is a social responsibility, a rescue dog advocate says.

"When we adopted our dog Lou, he was emaciated and the size of a six-week-old puppy when he was actually six months old," says Zoe Neave, a dog adoption advocate. "He couldn't sit down properly and I remember asking the team at the pound if there was something wrong with him. But he was just so happy to see a loving face that he didn't stop wagging his tail.

"Lou repaid us by coming first at puppy school, and six years on he's the most tolerant, gentle, kind and loving big brother to his two non-fur siblings."

Lou is just one example of how dog adoption doesn't just save a dog, it creates a family. But he's also very lucky to have found a loving home. In 2016, 8,372 dogs were impounded in Auckland's animal shelters. Most were reclaimed by their owners and 644 were adopted, but 3,059 dogs that were not suitable for rehoming because they were too sick or injured, failed a temperament test, were a menacing dog breed, or were simply too dangerous had to be euthanized.

The stats speak a similar story further south. In Tauranga during the 2015/16 year, 960 dogs were impounded, 764 were returned to their owners, 62 were adopted by new families, and 134 were euthanized.

"We simply have too many dogs in New Zealand," says Auckland councillor Cathy Casey. "Buying puppies from pet shops encourages more breeding that we just don't need. It doesn't help the cause when dog owners don't desex their dogs either, often resulting in thousands of unwanted puppies."

The solution to New Zealand's dog overpopulation isn't a quick fix, but there are some things dog owners can do to do their bit.

"Dog adoption is the perfect way to add a canine friend to your family without adding to our dog problem," Casey says. "There are hundreds of gorgeous dogs of all shapes, sizes, colours, breeds, ages and temperaments in animal shelters all over the country that desperately need new families to love them."

It's also important that people understand their responsibilities when they get a dog.

"Desexing just one dog prevents many unwanted puppies being born," says Casey. "If owners can't afford it, the SPCA offers free desexing operations.

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"Microchipping your dog and keeping your contact information up to date means we can reunite you and your dog if you get separated too," she adds.

There are thousands of unwanted dogs who would love to have a 'happily ever after' story just like Lou's.

"There are some wonderful organisations out there that spend a lot of time working with dogs that have had the worst lives," says Neave. "Local pounds are doing such a wonderful job trying to rehome the thousands of sad cases they encounter, and many of these organisations are run by volunteers who do it for the love of their fur babies.

"There is a look that all rescue dogs have in their eyes. It's a gratefulness, pure appreciation and so much love and loyalty. Lou isn't just a dog; our family wouldn't be the same without him."

For more information about adopting a dog from your local pound, SPCA or dog rescue organisation, Google 'dog adoption' or ask for advice on Neighbourly.

 - Stuff

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