'Red tape' sends animal shelter founder north

Buffy Paterson (right) at her Wanaka animal shelter with volunteer Callie Turner (13) and puppies Zoe (left) and Louise. Photo by Lucy Ibbotson.
Buffy Paterson (right) at her Wanaka animal shelter with volunteer Callie Turner (13) and puppies Zoe (left) and Louise. Photo by Lucy Ibbotson.
After rehoming more than 20 dogs and 10 cats since establishing a Wanaka-based pet rescue programme late last year, Dogs Wanaka founder Buffy Paterson has packed up and moved to Hastings where she hopes setting up a dedicated animal haven will prove an easier process.

Miss Paterson's dream of establishing a not-for-profit, no-kill shelter in Wanaka, funded by an associated boarding kennels and cattery, has stalled, after the consent requirements for the project became too daunting.

The rehomed pets - predominantly dogs - came from throughout the lower South Island, including some which were destined to be put down if new homes were not found. Most were fostered at her own rental home in Wanaka, with some help from a small pool of volunteers in the Queenstown Lakes district.

Miss Paterson said she had several approaches from land owners regarding a site on which to build her proposed pet rescue premises, but council planners had indicated the consent process could be long and costly.

''[Dogs Wanaka] takes all of my time and I'm doing it all on my own, basically, so I really need to be able to get it moving sooner than what I can down here.

''I can't just sit ... and drown myself financially, waiting. I need to make something happen.''

A recent trip to the Hawkes Bay with her teenage daughter prompted the pair's decision to relocate north. Miss Paterson had a good support network of friends in the Hastings area, an important attraction for a single mother, she said.

She also expected to encounter less red tape there.

However, the move would not spell the end for Dogs Wanaka, she promised.

''I can't just let it die after all this ... we definitely want to keep this going . . . '' She would continue to manage the Dogs Wanaka foster programme from her new base, and if she could establish a self-sustaining rescue facility in the Hawkes Bay, she would then be in a better position to return and do the same in Wanaka, she said.

While Miss Paterson left Wanaka this week, Dogs Wanaka will have a stand at the Upper Clutha A and P Show on March 7 and 8 where people can sign up as foster care volunteers.lucy.ibbotson@odt.co.nz