Driving dogs dig deep for SPCA appeal

By Brendan Manning

Ginny the whippet cross learns how to drive. Photo / Supplied
Ginny the whippet cross learns how to drive. Photo / Supplied

SPCA launched its annual appeal today with two of its world-famous driving dogs 'digging deep' for bags of money on Auckland's Kohimarama Beach.

Giant schnauzer cross Monty and a bearded collie-cross Porter shot to fame last December as two of the three SPCA dogs taught to drive a modified Mini.

The footage went viral and offers of television and film work poured in from across the globe.

Monty and Porter were back to their showdog ways this morning, digging up food-laced bags of money at inspire humans to also 'dig deep' and give money to the charity which relies solely on donations to meet its $20 million annual running cost.

Monty was surrendered to the SPCA by his owners when they couldn't keep up with his active demands, and was later adopted by animal trainer Mark Vette.

Porter was rescued by the SPCA after he was found wandering on the streets of South Auckland and was later adopted by Mr Vette's daughter, Jazmin Vette-Dal Bello.

Mr Vette said Monty wasn't the first celebrity pooch he'd owned and trained as he was also responsible for the dog in Toyota's 'Bugger' ad.

Monty's overall temperament and his intelligence were what attracted him, he said.

"He's a real fun loving dog. [He's] very smart, he's done his first movie, he's been cranking into lots of different stuff.

"He's a fantastic dog to train, he's really smart. He's a schnauzer cross, so he's got that what we call hybrid vigour.

"I prefer cross-breeds, you get an improved genetic line because they're not line-bred. You tend to find that the mutts or the hybrids are much more malleable and intelligent.

"I particularly like the rescue dogs, they really want to work for you once they know they've got a great home, they'll just do anything for you."

Mr Vette said he couldn't reveal any other details of the film Monty was starring in as he was under contract, however he confirmed it was a New Zealand film.

"Driving dogs really raised the profile that rescue dogs are smart dogs - that's what that whole campaign was about."

SPCA Auckland chief executive Christine Kalin said the organisation's annual appeal launched today and street collectors would be out on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

"For people who would like to give online, they can give at spcaannualappeal.org.nz or alternatively you can pop into our SPCA down in Mangere and make a donation down there."

Last year's Auckland street appeal raised $160,000 over three days, however they were hoping to hit the $200,000 mark this year, she said.

SPCA rescued 17,000 animals in Auckland last year and 60,000 nationwide, Ms Kalin said.

"Our dream would be for the SPCA to be the place of choice for people to get their animals. We would like to see Trade Me go out of business as far as the rehoming of animals.

"When you come to the SPCA you get an animal that's been vet checked, microchipped, desexed and vaccinated so you know that your animal is going to be a good family pet."

The charity received no guaranteed funding from the Government annually and relied on the generosity of the public to survive, Ms Kalin said.

- APNZ

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