A Melville mum worried about a surge in puppies being put up for adoption on Facebook is using social media to boost her charity.
Chelsea Wilson started Fixed K9 Recruit last year, after reading online about the increasing number of unwanted litters.
She homes the dogs while paying for desexing, vaccination and flea and worm treatments, before finding new owners for the pooches through Trade Me, Pets On the Net and word of mouth.
"The puppies are hard work, but it's all worth it in the end," said Wilson, who has had up to eight puppies in her home at once.
That's on top of being mum to a 3-year-old and two canines of her own.
"It was the thought of them going into dog-fighting rings that really motivated me in the beginning."
The 23-year-old estimates she has rescued more than 20 dogs, funding their vet bills through the sale of raffle tickets and Avon products.
Alongside caring for the dogs, Wilson completed her national certificate in veterinary nursing through Otago Polytechnic last year.
She is now shifting her focus to the fundraising side of the charity as she returns to fulltime work.
"I wish I could keep doing it, but I'm going to be too busy," she said.
She has started a Givealittle page to accompany traditional fundraising ideas, with the goal of providing highly discounted desexing for female dogs in Hamilton.
"I want to make it possible for people from lower-income families to afford desexing treatments.
"If we help minimise canine overpopulation, there will be fewer canines in shelters."
Wilson hopes she will raise enough money so people needing help with desexing dogs will pay only $50. Fixed K9 Recruit will make up the rest.
She said she was focusing on female dogs at present, but once the charity gained more momentum, she would offer the service to male dogs as well.
SPCA Waikato executive officer Sara Elliott-Warren said desexing was costly.
"A lot of people can fit desexing cats into their budget at around $100, but to desex a bitch can cost $250 to$350."
Elliott-Warren said there was a growing problem of dogs being abandoned in Waikato by people who did not have the resources to care for them.
"We had six litters come in recently, with a total of 15 puppies."
She said she would "certainly welcome" a code of welfare which put the onus on people producing puppies to desex them before they went to new homes.
- Chelsea Armitage is a communications student at AUT.
- Waikato Times