Big plans for pet rescue programme

Wanaka's new animal shelter, run by Buffy Paterson (right) with help from volunteers like Callie Turner (13), will have 8-week-old puppies Zoe (left) and Louise and other dogs up for adoption at Wanaka's annual holiday gala today. Photo by Lucy Ibbotson.
Wanaka's new animal shelter, run by Buffy Paterson (right) with help from volunteers like Callie Turner (13), will have 8-week-old puppies Zoe (left) and Louise and other dogs up for adoption at Wanaka's annual holiday gala today. Photo by Lucy Ibbotson.
Animal-loving Wanaka woman Buffy Paterson has big plans for her fledgling pet rescue programme, which will hold its first adoption day today at Wanaka's annual holiday gala.

Miss Paterson, who is ''obsessed with animals'', started an animal shelter about two months ago, with help from Queenstown and Wanaka foster care volunteers, and has already rehomed 14 dogs in the lower South Island.

While many of the rescued dogs find permanent homes in Wanaka, most come from outside the resort, including some from Dog Rescue Dunedin, which fosters and rehomes dogs from the Dunedin City Council pound which are destined to be put down.

Miss Paterson's aim is to establish a nationwide rescue programme through New Zealand's first self-sustaining animal shelter based in Wanaka - an ''animal-loving community''.

The proposed facility would be a for-profit no-kill shelter, supported by income from an associated boarding kennels, cattery, retail shop and grooming service and modelled on an animal shelter in Aspen, Colorado, in the United States, where Miss Paterson comes from.

''The motto is a dog boarded is a shelter dog supported.''

She is looking for premises to establish such a facility, either in partnership with the Queenstown Lakes District Council or privately.

The cost of the rescued animals' vet treatment, food and transportation is being covered by Miss Paterson and public donations, along with support from local businesses - particularly Aspiring Veterinary Services and Adventure Car Rentals, in Wanaka.

Friends of the Wanaka Animal Shelter recently became a registered charity to apply for grants and funding for the project.

Miss Paterson's other plans include having youth offenders do community service at the shelter, running a ''rent-a-pet'' service where visitors to Wanaka could take a shelter dog for a day, and providing funding for people who cannot afford to have their animal neutered.

While the charity is known informally as ''DogsWanaka'', no animal is excluded. Some kittens have been fostered; people have offered to take in horses and Miss Paterson and her daughter recently rescued a dove, later claimed by its owner.

The intention was not to ''overwhelm the community with vicious dogs or anything'', but rather to help ''highly adoptable pets'' find new homes, Miss Paterson said.

''We're going to have the facilities, through fundraising, to be able to buy these dogs the time that they need.''

Wanaka Holiday Gala, Wanaka Showgrounds, 11am-2pm today.

- lucy.ibbotson@odt.co.nz