Death row dogs put their best paw forward at Botany Town Centre

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Man’s best friend gets one last chance to find a loving forever home through an adoption, safety and awareness drive at an east Auckland shopping centre this month. New Zealand has one of the highest pet ownership rates per capita, yet the nation’s dog euthanasia rates remain high at our overpopulated animal shelters. Few New Zealanders know that in an average year, around 40% of dogs impounded by Auckland Council alone are euthanized, many of them because no good home can be found.

Botany Town Centre, as the hub of its local community, is reaching out to help dog rescue organisation DC Rescue find forever homes for a large number of dogs that desperately need them. In partnership with DC Rescue, Botany Town Centre will host its inaugural adoption day on Saturday 26th March from 9am to12pm.

The dog adoption day offers a chance for locals to meet and interact with available dogs in a safe environment and to learn about breeds, safety and what dogs need from their owners.

DC Rescue will be joined on the day by dog trainers Canine Citizen, and together they will introduce puppies and older dogs to the public and potential owners. Participants can learn how they can help vulnerable dogs through adoption, fostering, donating or simply giving them attention and affection. Dog photographer Kelly Wolfe will be on hand to take photos of potential matches made on the day. Organic homemade dog treat specialists OnePodgyDog will have a stall for locals to purchase treats to spoil their dogs.

This aim of the adoption drive is to not only help dogs on death row find their forever homes, but to educate the community about the sheer number of dogs that need saving and general dog safety skills. A 2015 report recorded the impounding of 9,432 dogs across all Auckland Council pounds that year, and the euthanizing of 42% of them.

Each year, more than 200 canine lives are saved from the rainbow bridge by DC Rescue alone. The non-profit organisation works with pounds and dog owners across the North Island to take in dogs in need of new homes. DC Rescue has safely re-homed more than 600 dogs since its establishment in 2012. It gives unloved and abandoned puppies a second chance at life – each dog that goes through DC Rescue’s care is desexed, vaccinated, council registered, microchipped, registered with NZCAR, and treated for fleas and worms before being placed in well-vetted forever homes.

Assisting in the re-homing process are hundreds of foster parents around the North Island who voluntarily take care of the dogs until their forever homes are found. DC Rescue aims to re-home dogs while getting to the root of the influx of dogs stuck in shelters through the ‘DC Desex a Dog’ initiative, which focuses on desexing female dogs to reduce overpopulation of dog shelters and consequent high rates of euthanasia of healthy dogs.

DC Rescue founder Cherie Baker says, “The best part about what we do is seeing dogs transform from scared and hungry animals to healthy, happy members of the family. When a dog we have rescued hops into somebody’s car on their way to their new forever home, and are too excited to even look back to say goodbye, we know we’ve done our job.

“We are so happy Botany Town Centre reached out and offered help share our message. We hope other shopping centres follow their lead in hosting adoption drives, because the issues of overpopulation and poor dog education are ongoing and people need many more opportunities to learn about dogs and interact with dogs that need adoption.”

Botany Town Centre senior marketing manager Desiree Clark says, “DC Rescue is an important organisation that we are proud to support. Having rescued a dog myself I am motivated to set up regular adoption drives at the centre. I know how one person can change one life and we couldn’t image our lives without our rescue dog, Benny. With the number of Auckland’s dog relinquishing rates remaining high, we hope to help as many dogs as we can find their new forever homes.

“There is a stigma that adopting a dog is hard work and events such as this will help to make adoption a more accessible option for people. We are bringing these dogs to the public so people can properly spend time and fall in love with them.”

Locals don’t need to adopt a dog to help. Botany Town Centre is also hosting a drop-off point in-centre where locals can donate dog food, blankets and other supplies needed to equip new forever homes and help foster parents. Goods can also be donated on the day by attendees.