Cherie Howie

Cherie Howie is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

Dogs to head for home, not stardom

Dinah Towle and Lucy Sharp take a turn in the SPCA car being driven by Porter. Photo / Jason Dorday
Dinah Towle and Lucy Sharp take a turn in the SPCA car being driven by Porter. Photo / Jason Dorday

Hollywood is calling for the SPCA's world famous driving dogs.

But the animal organisation intends to make sure the calls remain unanswered - potential new owners are likely to be required to sign a contract promising not to take advantage of their marketable new skills, the SPCA confirmed yesterday.

Commercial interest in the dogs has been flooding in since video of them driving a converted Mini, part of a campaign to encourage people to adopt SPCA dogs, went viral on YouTube. The video has been viewed more than three million times; 60 million people have tweeted about the dogs; and their efforts have attracted media attention from around the world.

Animals on Q owner Mark Vette, an animal psychologist whose company taught the dogs to drive over a 10-week period, said offers of work had landed from "big movie companies, big TV shows and big sponsors", including Top Gear and Ellen, the Ellen DeGeneres Show, but the dogs' needs would be put first, Vette said.

"It's about them having a good life, not just about them being film stars."

SPCA marketing manager Rona Booth said no firm decision had been made about the terms of the dogs' adoptions, for which there has been high interest, but it was likely the contract would include a clause that they could only be involved in SPCA publicity, and that would be limited.

Hundreds went to SPCA Auckland in Mangere yesterday to watch, and in some cases ride with, the driving dogs.

- Herald on Sunday

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