This months inspiration of the month is one very dear to my heart - Pam and the team at Dogwatch Sanctuary Trust. Dogwatch is an adoption centre for dogs and puppies from many walks of life (sadly not all of them good). I first found out about Dogwatch and the amazing work they do when my husband and I adopted our dog Gus from them four years ago. They have been the recipients of Lofts annual Christmas collection for two years now.
The dedication and commitment that comes with running a self funded organisation is incredible - these are some of the most caring and devoted people you will meet.
Dogwatch currently has 18 dogs in its care - awareness of this amazing cause is much needed. Please share this with any friends or family who may be interested in adopting a dog that is very much in need.
**Tell us about Dogwatch**
Dogwatch was established in 1982 by Peggy Van Bree, Estelle Win and John Ross who was a financial backer and trustee. Basically two ladies fostered pound dogs until they could find them homes, they placed adds in the Press and local rags, volunteers screened them over the phone and then the foster homes screened them again, if all was suitable then they were adopted out. All the dogs came from the CCC pound and the old Waimairi pound. Then they recruited other foster families to take in dogs and do the same thing, all food and transport was supplied along with vet care.
** Please tell me a bit more about you Pam and how you got involved at Dogwatch**
I have been involved with Dogwatch coming up 33 years this Christmas, my husband does all the maintenance where possible at the adoption. My 2 children, now adults have grown up with our own dogs as well as the many dogs we fostered until the kennels were built in 2001, and still do foster, at present I have two rescues at home with my own two adopted dogs.
From an early age, I have had a love of dogs, once my father found a dog in his garage that I had “saved” not that it needed saving I just so wanted to help a dog. I used to go visiting the local dogs to make sure they were alright, I remember feeding a dog weetbix because I thought it was lonely chained up while the owner was away.
How we became involved – we had our German Shepherd Kelly and we considered getting another dog. My husband saw an add in the local paper asking for foster homes, Neil suggested we do this to see if a second dog was going to fit into our family – 33 years later we are still fostering rescued dogs. I am now the full time manager of the Dogwatch Adoption Centre in Bromley.
**Tell us about the growth of Dogwatch over the years**
In the last few years the growth of Dogwatch has exceeded all of our expectations. Dogwatch is a respected rescue and rehoming centre recognised all over New Zealand. Although still considered small compared to others our main focus is not how many dogs we home but rather finding them the right home that will love and care for their adopted dog for the rest of its life.
We do understand that anything can happen in a person’s life that could change an owner’s ability to keep their dog, and for this reason we also help people in the community to re home their dogs. We act as a referral service to help match up those wanting to get a dog with those wanting to find another home for their dog. Dogwatch has gone from a very small group of volunteers to now employing 1 full time person, 6 part timers, this covers both the kennels and the variety shop in New Brighton. Over nearly 35 years we have homed thousands of dogs and puppies, we have helped hundreds of private dogs find new homes.
From looking after two pounds when we first started we now look after four pounds - Christchurch, Waimakariri, Selwyn and Ashburton. We have also helped the Greymouth, Hurunui and Fairly pounds.
**Do you have any government assistance or do you rely solely on donations and volunteers?**
Dogwatch is totally self funded, we receive no government or council funding. We have a secondhand variety shop in New Brighton which is one of our main sources of funding. As a charity we rely heavily on donations, bequests, legacies and the amazing time and energy given by volunteers to help with the running of the adoption centre and the shop and importantly fundraising.
Our supporters are what keep us going, we have some amazing people who donate to Dogwatch, from as little $2 per week - over a year this will pay for a dog to be vaccinated. We could not do the rescue work without the support that we get from these caring people.
**What has been your biggest challenge with running Dogwatch?**
Over the last 4 years we have designed and built a new entrants kennel block, this block is specifically for all new dogs and puppies that come into our care. Raising the funds a was a major task to get this project up and running, as we have grown to take in more dogs the big challenge has been to go from being a totally volunteer run adoption centre to having employees.
After 22 years of having no paid staff we came to realise that we needed structure, consistency, and stability to run the kennels, this cannot be done by volunteers alone. The biggest challenge now is to be financially stable to continue the rescue work we do. People have no concept of how much it costs to run a rescue centre.
**What is the best way for our community to contribute to Dogwatch/whats your advice for anyone considering adoption?**
There are so many ways people can help Dogwatch - volunteering (people have many skills that can be utilised at our centre), anything from cleaning to helping to re home dogs, donating good quality goods to our second hand shop, financial support, working bees, spreading the word about who we are and what we, promoting Opt to Adopt.
**What have you learnt about yourself and others since working at Dogwatch?**
Hmm that is a hard one, I have personally grown a lot in the last few years. I have learnt that people come in many forms with dog ownership, I have learnt that we as a society still have much to learn about dog ownership and the days of the number 8 wire mentality, she’ll be right does not work with owning and looking after man’s best friend. What have I learnt from this? Is to go with my instinct when dealing with people and dogs.
**Lastly, what is there a motto you life your life by?**
Try and take each day as it comes and be prepared to change at any time.
A very big thank you to Pam for taking precious time out of her day to complete these answers - she is one very busy woman.
If you, or someone you know is interested in adopting a Dog, please visit www.dogwatch.co.nz