Saving Hope started with one small objective – to save an abandoned and neglected puppy from being destroyed on the assumption that it could be a dangerous dog.
It was a year ago this month that Jill O’Brien spotted the puppy, soon named Hope, in the Silverdale Animal Shelter. When her efforts to re-home the puppy were thwarted, she turned to social media and contacted local politicians.
Two people who stepped up to help were Waitoki mother and daughter, Janine and Anita Hinton. And, as a result, Hope is now a much-loved pet in the Hinton household and the Saving Hope Foundation was born.
“We think it is morally wrong to euthanise a dog based on breed,” Janine says. “Hope is testimony to how wrong that approach is – she is a beautiful, friendly dog that shows no sign of aggression to people or other animals.”
But Hope hasn’t been the only beneficiary of the campaign. In the foundation’s first 11 months, it has been involved in re-homing 160 unwanted dogs/puppies. On one occasion the shelter received 18 puppies in two days.
“We are just one of hundreds of rescue groups around the country and most, like us, are at capacity, which is a sad reflection of how we treat animals,” Janine says.
“It breaks my heart to see any dog mistreated because they are such loving and forgiving animals. Somehow we need to make owners more accountable. The message we need to get across to all dog owners is to get their dogs de-sexed or spade.”
There is a strong sense of responsibility underpinning the foundation’s philosophy.
Not only do they want dog owners to be more responsible, but they take a lot of care to ensure that the Saving Hope dogs are properly matched with their new owners.
Using an animal behavourist, the puppies are put through a training process called imprinting.
Janine says imprinting is the most critical learning and socialisation period in a dog’s life, and it only happens once.
“Things experienced during this period form the foundation of the dog to come. Imprinting helps a dog think about the situations they might be in so they are not reactive.
“When a dog or puppy leaves the shelter, we want to know they are healthy and well-adjusted, otherwise the dog is bound to fail.
“It normally takes a dog a few weeks to settle down when it goes to a new home, so we stay in touch and can provide support, if needed.”
In a broader context, Janine believes local councils could be more supportive – only two councils in NZ allow rescue centres free registration on a dog’s first year – and landlords need to re-think their “no pets” policy.
“It’s heart-breaking to see people being parted from their pets because they can’t find a sympathetic landlord. There must be a solution – even if it means the tenant has to pay a slightly higher bond.”
Can you help?
Safe foster homes for the dogs and puppies are desperately needed. “Even if a person just fosters one dog, that’s a help,” Janine says. Food and vet bills are covered by the foundation, but foster homes need to be secure and puppies can’t be left alone for long periods of time. Donations to help cover vet bills, food and training are also much appreciated with opportunities to sponsor a puppy. To donate: Saving Hope Charitable Trust account: 02 12980075 87700; or for more information, firstname.lastname@example.org