Chch has increased demand for rescuing of unwanted huskies
Open day for Christchurch-founded dog rescue organisation as demand for help increases
By anyone’s standards, huskies are handsome dogs, with their classic wolf shape, irrepressible tail and striking markings. But, as Michelle Attwood founder of Christchurch-based Husky Rescue NZ says, that very appeal is also the breed’s Achilles heel.
“Huskies are frequently bought by owners who want a handsome house dog to look good and be seen with. But ‘handsome’ does not mean ‘easy-care’,” Michelle says. “The husky’s independent temperament, its need for strong discipline and lots of exercise, let alone the time spent coping with that dense, fluffy coat, mean that for many people the husky turns out to be the wrong choice. Such owners can find, as the dog matures from adorable puppy to strong-willed adult, that they have not bought a show-off accessory, they’ve created a problem, because they did not understand the characteristics and needs of the breed at the time of purchase.”
Which is where Husky Rescue NZ comes in.
Husky Rescue NZ was started in 2009 by Michelle after she became aware of a desperate need for re-homing unwanted or abandoned huskies, alongside a need for better education of potential owners so people who choose a husky as a pet, do so knowing what’s required to enjoy this wonderful breed.
Michelle says: “Huskies properly looked after make very rewarding pets that will enjoy your company and be very safe with children. But many of the huskies abandoned or given up are in that situation because their owners did not know how to care for them or were not prepared to put in the time that an adult husky requires. As a result the dog has become a problem. Huskies left to their own devices get bored and become escape artists; if the owner fails to establish their position as leader, the husky, with its strong pack mentality, will become the leader instead and be almost impossible to discipline or control.”
Husky Rescue NZ takes in surrendered or abandoned huskies, checks them out for health, suitability for re-homing, and arranges for them to be de-sexed and vaccinated where necessary. Potential new owners must provide referees, and complete a comprehensive questionnaire demonstrating their knowledge of the breed, its requirements and their ability to provide the dog a safe and caring permanent home.
To date the organisation (which has an application to be classed as a charity pending) has been almost entirely financed out of Michelle’s own pocket. This includes often expensive transport fees and taking care of veterinary bills.
She is grateful to her foster home friends who foot the food bills and other expenses for dogs in their care and often drive to pick up dogs. Some vets also donate or discount their time and fees. Without them Husky Rescue NZ could not operate nationwide. Each husky incurs approximately $800 in costs (based on a three-month stay), with some requiring specialist veterinary care on top of that.
The majority of rescued huskies come from Auckland, but Michelle is currently experiencing an influx from Christchurch. She is at the limit of her capacity to temporarily re-home, assess, train and then find homes for the numbers of dogs she is receiving calls about.
As part of Husky rescue NZ’s drive to educate the public about the benefits, and obligations, associated with the breed, the organisation is hosting a Husky Day Out on Sunday October 20 in Christchurch at The Groynes dog park, far back paddock, from 10am to 2pm.
“Anyone’s welcome,” Michelle says. “Whether they’re a husky owner already or are thinking about getting one. There’ll be an opportunity to view some of the dogs we have up for adoption and get furry cuddles, talk to Husky Rescue NZ and get some good information about the breed. There’s a fully fenced area so the huskies that come along can have some off-lead social fun. We’ll have some donated prizes for a raffle and a photographer there too to do some doggy portraits in return for a donation to Husky Rescue NZ.”