Driving dogs fail to drive adoption

KAT PICKFORD
Last updated 08:13 13/12/2012
Jess Monk
Dog walk: Bruce the shar pei-mastiff cross, led by SPCA animal care manager Jess Monk, was the star of the SPCA float at the Christmas parade on Saturday, and is one of eight canines at the animal shelter near Renwick in need of a good home.

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An Auckland SPCA's publicity stunt to raise awareness of homeless dogs has not yet persuaded Marlburians to adopt a dog.

The elaborate stunt, which involved master animal trainer Mark Vette training three rescued pooches to drive a modified car, aired on Campbell Live on Monday night after two months of daily training.

Marlborough SPCA animal care manager Jess Monk said that while the "crazy idea" had generated a lot of interest from the public, people were remaining cautious about taking on the commitment of adopting a pet dog.

"It was a very clever, very cool and very crazy idea," she said.

"We haven't had any adoptions so far this week, but it's great that people are talking about it and have it on their minds."

People could be delaying adoption with the approach of the festive season and summer holidays, which was better than taking on the responsibility without thinking it through, she said.

The SPCA strongly recommends against buying a pet as a gift for family or friends.

"As sweet as it seems, if it doesn't work out, it's the animal that ends up suffering," Ms Monk said.

"And if the person doesn't want it, they have to re-home it themselves, which is a real pain."

The Marlborough SPCA at Foxes Island, Renwick, has eight canines in need of a home at the moment, including Bruce the shar pei-mastiff cross, who was the star of the SPCA float in the Christmas parade on Saturday.

While teaching a dog to drive a car would take a lot of time and training experience, all breeds had the intelligence to be taught good manners, Ms Monk said. "It's really easy once you know all the little tricks of dog psychology and learn how to speak their language."

Dogs were always more difficult to adopt than cats, she said, because they were more costly to keep and required more commitment, care and attention.

Before dogs are adopted, an SPCA staff member does a property visit to ensure the dog's new home is safe and fully fenced.

Marlborough SPCA euthanasia rates were below 5 per cent at the moment, compared to Auckland, which had 65 per cent, Ms Monk said. It had managed to increase adoption rates by swapping dogs with other SPCA centres around the country.

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Fostering dogs out to homes also increased their chances of being adopted, because families became attached to them, she said.

- The Marlborough Express

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