Hibiscus Coast community rallies to save sickly puppy

Hope's ordeal led to the launch of the Saving Hope NZ Facebook page which will now be used to help rehome other dogs.
Saving Hope NZ/Facebook

Hope's ordeal led to the launch of the Saving Hope NZ Facebook page which will now be used to help rehome other dogs.

The power of the people erupted on the weekend to save a poor little puppy.

Four-week-old puppy Hope was spotted at Auckland Council's Silverdale Animal Shelter worm infested, malnourished, and not eating or drinking last week.

Jil O'Brien had been visiting another dog at the shelter and was moved when she saw the state of Hope.

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She tried to adopt her, but was told the dog was too young and too sick.

O'Brien contacted rescue centres and was told keeping a puppy on a property like the shelter contravened animal welfare legislation.

Others, including rescue centres, tried to adopt Hope, but were told no.

O'Brien was told Hope was too young and sick, there were questions over whether she was a dangerous breed, and she was scheduled to be put down.

In an effort to save Hope, O'Brien took to social media at the weekend calling for support and for people to contact Rodney MP Mark Mitchell and Albany ward councillors Wayne Walker and John Watson asking for their assistance to help save Hope.

Many did and one person set up a "Saving Hope" event on Facebook for Sunday morning, asking people to meet at the Silverdale Animal Shelter and show support.

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People turned out but were refused access to Hope, including the vet who came along to offer free assistance for the tiny pup, and police were called to remove them.

Mark Mitchell said he contacted the council three times on Sunday to get details on Hope's situation and he had kept in contact with O'Brien throughout Sunday.

The council didn't respond to him, he said.

He said a lot of people had contacted him about Hope and he had endeavoured to respond to all of them.

Mitchell was on a plane overnight to the Middle East on Department of Defence business, but said he arrived to the good news the situation had been resolved - Hope was put into the hands of the SPCA on Monday morning.

Councillor John Watson said he, too, received phone calls, texts and emails from people concerned for Hope.

He contacted the shelter and passed on the concerns, he said.

In response on Monday, Watson received an email from the council saying the puppy had been held the statutory seven days and no owner had come forward.

Monday was day seven when the process of determining the best outcome for the puppy, and the community, began, the response said.

"In line with our procedures, we will carry out a breed, temperament and full health check to determine whether the puppy is suitable for rehoming.

"There were no health concerns for the puppy, which was feeding normally and putting on weight whilst in the shelter."

Watson said he was waiting for a response over concerns raised by the community.

Auckland SPCA chief executive Andrea Midgen said Hope seemed in pretty good shape.

"She's been vet checked and that was all fine," she said.

Hope would now be held while an investigation was done looking at her abandonment, her treatment at the animal shelter, and whether any animal welfare laws were breached, Midgen said.

"We will get the care records from the Silverdale shelter for Hope which will form part of the animal journey from the time she got abandoned. They look to be in reasonable order at this stage, but obviously it is part of the investigation as well."

Auckland Council animal management manager Tracey Moore said the protest action had not diverted the council from following due process in relation to Hope.

"It is highly unfortunate that a group of individuals have attempted to intimidate council staff in person and online. The wellbeing of our staff is paramount, and we have to ensure a safe working environment for them to carry out our duties.

"The council had no health concerns for the dog, which was feeding normally and putting on weight whilst in the shelter. No breed assessment was carried out on the dog while in the shelter," she said.

The council has a responsibility to hold dogs that are found without an owner for seven days under the Dog Control Act, Moore said.

"Over this time, no owner came forward to claim this puppy."

Moore said the council actively work with owners to try and get dogs home.

"When this does not happen, we need to consider a range of options to determine the most appropriate option for a dog, and for the community. As part of our normal procedure, Animal Management does work with rescue organisations, including SPCA and the Humane Society and it is not unusual for the council to hand dogs over to these groups, which could be for a variety of reasons. 

Moore reminded people to think very carefully before taking on the responsibility of giving a dog a home and that dog owners desex their animals.

"This is a very sad, yet avoidable, situation our team sees on a daily basis where yet another owner has failed to take responsibility for a dog in their care."

 - Stuff

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