Kate Turner recently spoke to Monika’s Doggie Rescue, a shelter that focuses on the rehabilitation, fostering and placement of once unloved pooches.
After hearing about Monika’s Doggie Rescue, I jumped at the chance to interview the amazing woman behind the organisation and to find out more about the organisation’s background, of how Monika and her team are changing the lives of thousands of dogs all over Sydney, and why adopting a rescue pup is one of the most rewarding things you can do.
What first motivated you to start a dog rescue rehabilitation centre?
It started when my vet was handed two healthy dogs for euthanasia, as the owner had died and the family did not want to know. And when I came in contact with a rescuer who was visiting Renbury Pound to save a few dogs, the enormity of the problem was before me. I could not look back when I saw how many dogs were killed each week. So we started by saving one to two dogs at a time and slowly it grew from there.
Was it a difficult road to get the shelter up and running?
In the early days, I did not have a shelter and relied just on a small band of carers who helped care for the dogs. It was extremely difficult as facilities were not available and noise is a big issue with dogs in residential areas. I had my eyes on our current location for more than five years. During that time, Doggie Rescue lost the premises where we were and needed to survive without. This meant we had a few dogs in commercial boarding as well as with carers and we leased a shop front to act as an adoption centre.
How difficult has it been financially maintaining the shelter?
It is always difficult to stay alive financially as we rely solely on pet lovers to keep our doors open. We do not receive government funding. At the time of the GFC we set up a monthly giving called Lifesavers and these people kept us alive and surviving post-GFC.
We are fortunate as we rely mostly on volunteer power so our costs are kept to a minimum. Costs are still high though as we have some 100 dogs in our care at the shelter.
Before buying a puppy, it is strongly recommended to adopt a rescue dog. Can you give us an example of why a rescue pup would make an invaluable member to a friendly home?
Rescue dogs have generally not had a positive association with humans so it takes a while for them to trust. When they do trust it is a very deep bond and I believe the dogs know you have saved them and are eternally grateful.
If we come across an abandoned dog, should we try and help him/her ourselves, or should we promptly call Doggie Rescue (or a like-kind rescue if outer Sydney) first?
The Companion Animal Act states a lost dog should be handed into a pound or vet clinic. Dogs are scanned to assess if the dog has a microchip which helps to locate the owner. If no owner is located it is a good idea to track what is happening with the dog to ensure he is not put down. Using social media and networking with rescue groups helps the dog find a new home.
How many dogs have been rescued in your care so far?
We have saved over 11,500 dogs since commencement some 19 years ago.
Are all rescues mendable with some loving dedication?
Yes, I believe all dogs can be rehabilitated with time. It is a matter of time and perseverance and skill.
Tell us about your foster program
Fostering is a very important arm of our work as it helps prepare dogs for their forever home. We learn so much more about dogs in care compared to those at our shelter so we can be more accurate about matching the right family.
Fostering for us is a commitment for many months, even up to a year. When the shelter is full it is only fostering that enables us to save more lives. Commonly, foster carers adopt their foster dog as they have fallen in love, so we are always looking for new foster carers.
We do however have a number of carers who get another foster dog once their foster dog is adopted. That is hard yet rewarding road and we rely on these people to help rehabilitate some of our more difficult dogs.
How can one become a “forever home” to one of these rescues dogs?
Families look on our website to see dogs of interest. They fill in an application form and we chat about their selection and make arrangements for their family to meet nominated dogs at our shelter. It is always good to have a few dogs in mind.
Please contact the shelter for information on becoming carer, as they are always in need for more people to foster a pup.
You can donate to the monthly giving program, Lifesavers, or as a one-off donation which can be made online.