We should teach our best friends to protect native species

Tomorrow (Friday) is International Dogs Day

Laura Boren with Michelle Le Long (Photo Supplied)

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Auckland, August 25, 2022

Ahead of tomorrow’s International Dog Day, the Department of Conservation (DOC) has launched its Auckland ‘Lead the Way’ programme to help protect native wildlife, dogs and people on our beaches.

PD Insurance (pd.co.nz) supports this work as Programme Partner, a passionate advocate for animal welfare and responsible pet ownership.

Auckland’s beaches are home to a diverse array of marine mammals and sea birds with many in decline and under threat, such as fur Seals (Kekeno), Little Penguins (Kororā), Red-Billed Gulls (Tarāpunga), New Zealand Dotterel (Tūturiwhatu) and many more.

Dogs love beaches

“Beaches are a favourite destination for dogs and their owners, posing a risk to the wellbeing of these mammals and birds. There is a need for a stronger focus on enabling each to enjoy the coast together in harmony,” DOC Science Advisor, Mountains to Sea Team, Laura Boren said.

PD Insurance New Zealand Chief Operating Officer Michelle Le Long said that the company is to partner with DOC with extensive time and effort into this crucial programme.

“We are committed to empowering New Zealanders to be the best possible pet parents and wildlife-wise community members. Lead the Way recognises the risks faced by wildlife on the coastline while understanding the need for dogs and their owners to enjoy these areas,” she said.

Ms Long said that PD Insurance is aware that a majority of people are respectful, responsible and have positive intentions when heading out. Lead the Way aims to further build their awareness around how dogs and wildlife can happily experience the coast simultaneously in an even safer way for all involved.

Dr Cath Watson, Maria Alomajan, Dr Sarah Alexander and Stacey Tremain (Photo Supplied)

Sanctuaries

Ms Boren said that canine companions can cause chaos for native wildlife and that they are a primary threat to seal and sea lion pups, adversely impacting different species in myriad ways.

“Even a playful and rambunctious dog getting his exercise may disturb sunbathing seals, scare penguins, or destroy the beach nests of birds such as dotterel, fairy terns, godwits, and oystercatchers. Many dogs have an innate tendency to stalk, injure or predate wildlife, even if they are just playing. Some pet owners are unaware of the risks that their dogs present to coastal wildlife, and other dogs,” she said.

Lead the Way recognises that it is possible for dogs and wildlife to happily co-exist and urges pet owners to take a key role in enabling this by taking on board some simple tips.

“Through a variety of community engagement activities, our Lead the Way collaboration with PD Insurance will communicate the steps we can all take to better protect the animals that live and breed on our coasts. We appreciate PD Insurance getting behind this campaign and helping us spread the word about how important it is to protect our taonga species, many of which breed on only a select number of beaches in the Auckland area,” Ms Boren said.

Safeguarding dogs

Dogs can harm one another too, physically and emotionally. Many pet parents have suffered the shock of their dog either being charged down or charging down someone else.

“Anyone who has walked a dog knows the challenges of interactions between on-lead and off-lead dogs. We and DOC are urging dog owners to practice proactive management when outdoors, in protecting both native coastal species and each other,” Ms Long said.

Tips include scanning for wildlife, bringing a toy for distracting your pup, advising others if you spot wildlife and knowing where on the beach is the best place for human and canine activity.

Pet parents are also strongly encouraged to complete the three-minute Lead the Way quiz and, if they choose, purchase a Lead the Way lead for their dog.

Canine by nature: Maria Alomajan (Photo Supplied)

While signifying a commitment to wildlife-wise dog ownership, these high-quality, locally-made leads provide a visual clue of the dog’s temperament: (a) Green means they are friendly with dogs and people (b) Orange signals caution; the dog is sometimes uneasy/reactive with new dogs or people (c) Red is a clear warning; the dog is often nervous or reactive with new dogs or people (d)

Yellow means they are disabled or vulnerable to interactions in some other way.

Ms Long urged everyone to complete the Lead the Way ‘wildlife wise’ quiz to become a more aware pet parent and community member.

She said, “We can all contribute to conserving one of our most precious taonga – our country’s unique and wonderful fauna.”

To purchase a Lead the Way lead for your dog or learn more about the programme, visit www.doc.govt.nz/dogs-on-beaches-auckland

About PD Insurance

pd.co.nz is a pet insurance specialist that offers low-cost, high-value pet insurance.

The company’s goal is to empower pet parents to make easy, quick, care-based decisions about their pet’s health without worrying about the cost. Unique to pd.co.nz is its month-to-month payment model whereby members are not locked into a contract so that they can cancel anytime without penalty.

The company is committed to a fast and fair claims service, aiming for resolution within two business days of receiving all documentation. As with all Badger International brands, the essence of the pd.co.nz customer service philosophy is Simplicity (in service delivery) and Soft Landings (a commitment to providing members with a gentle landing in times of need).

Headquartered in Auckland, pd.co.nz employs a local team of animal lovers who provide support such as sales, marketing, and operations. The company is a division of Pacific International Insurance and wholly owned by Badger International NZ LP.

Recognising every animal deserves to be well cared for, pd.co.nz is a proud partner of New Zealand’s leading no-kill animal shelter Helping You Help Animals, which rescues, rehabilitates and rehomes hundreds of animals every year. It is also the Principal Partner of Healthy Pets New Zealand, a charity established in 1998 by the New Zealand Veterinary Association’s Companion Animal Branch to draw attention to the ‘big health and welfare issues of Kiwi pets.’

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