Are you're looking for a life-long friend who likes lots of cuddles and taking long walks?

Or maybe you're looking for someone to keep you company at night and to protect you.

No, this is not a dating advertisement but a new programme for pound dogs looking for a loving, forever home.

Western Bay of Plenty District Council has launched a dog matching scheme where people wanting to adopt a certain size or breed of dog, can put themselves on a waiting list.

Council animal services officer Melissa Murton said when she first started working for the council four years ago the adoption rate for dogs held in the pound was extremely low.

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Since then council had expanded its fostering programme and the number of adopted dogs grew to 48 last year, she said.

Ms Murton said the idea came about after council started getting a lot more inquiries from people wanting to adopt a particular breed of dog.

"Sometimes there were five people wanting to adopt the same dog and to capture that interest we started putting the other potential owners on a matching waiting list," she said.

"We've already rehomed 13 dogs this year who had come into our care just by matching them with people who expressed their interest in that breed or size of dog."

Ms Murton said the waiting list did not operate on a "first come, first served" basis.

"It's very important that we get the right match, and on most occasions we do."

Shelley Broadbent, council's foster care and adoption co-ordinator, said there had been many success stories resulting from the dog matching scheme.

That included the recent adoption of Danny, a 2-year-old maltese bichon-frise cross, by Papamoa Beach retirees Fred and Betty Service.

Ms Broadbent said the emphasis of the scheme was about matching "the right dog, with the right person".

"Ultimately we want to see happy dogs and happy owners becoming companions for life."

Mr Service said when he first saw Danny and clapped his hands, the little dog trotted over to him and immediately went to sleep in his arms.

"It was love at first sight. Danny is absolutely beautiful and the perfect fit for us. We are so lucky to have him," he said.

Their previous dog Libbie, a golden retriever, had a massive stroke seven weeks ago and had to be put down, he said

"It was devastating as Libbie was our constant companion. She went everywhere with us."

Mr Service said he and his wife had not been thinking of getting another dog, but were persuaded to do so by their daughter.

"We have had dogs for more than 30 years, and Libbie's death left such a huge hole in our lives, and our vet suggested we contact Melissa and Shelley.

"We are so grateful to them for helping us to achieve the perfect match."

Betty and Fred Service with their new pup, Danny, a bichon frise maltese cross. Photo/Ruth Keber
Betty and Fred Service with their new pup, Danny, a bichon frise maltese cross. Photo/Ruth Keber