An excitable puppy turned over to the SPCA has found a new calling in life - as a rainbow skink detector dog.

Teal, a Siberian husky cross, is one of the pack of dogs Bay of Plenty man Guus Knopers is training to track down the small Australian lizards, which are a threat to New Zealand's native flora and fauna.

The pup was handed over to the Auckland SPCA this year after her owners decided they could no longer look after her.

Mr Knopers has devoted years to helping many of these unwanted pooches climb up the ranks of government departments - as bomb detector dogs, drug sniffer dogs and conservation dogs - not just here in New Zealand but across the world.

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Guus Knopers trains dogs to track down the small Australian lizards, which are a threat to New Zealand's native flora and fauna.
Guus Knopers trains dogs to track down the small Australian lizards, which are a threat to New Zealand's native flora and fauna.

Most of the dogs Mr Knopers, the owner of K9s for Conservation, takes on board are those dumped at the pound or the SPCA.

Once he has trained them, they frequently get taken on as detector dogs for the Department of Conservation, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and the Ministry for Primary Industries.

"Dogs are proven to be more efficient at doing this kind of work than humans," he said. "These dogs get a second chance."

The dogs he chooses are those with drive that like to hunt for the ball and are old enough to be past the excitable puppy stage, but young enough to still be trained.