The Ford Ranger New Zealand Rural Games in Palmerston North March 14-15 is expecting a few more four-legged visitors through its support of animal welfare organisations.

NZRG founder Steve Hollander says the charities, Retired Working Dogs, Greyhounds as Pets, Life After Racing and Canine Pet Therapy Dogs, will be a welcome addition to the 2020 Rural Games.

"They will be a huge hit with our competitors and attendees - young and old alike.

"Dogs and horses are a huge part of many successful farms and families and have been for generations.

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"I'm thrilled we've had sponsors come on board to help each of these charities to raise their public profile during the Games.

Retired Working Dogs is a charity that finds forever homes for retired working dogs.

RWD fundraising manager Karen Cox says some dogs come from large stations and are unable to keep up with the demands of a busy working life, but would suit a smaller farm or lifestyle block, while others have sustained career ending injuries.

A different kind of working dog is represented by Greyhounds as Pets.

The charity has been at the Rural Games for the past two years says GP's Katherine O'Connor.

"The Games allow us to showcase the true nature of greyhounds to families – they are the perfect pet to adopt and quickly become part of the family," she says.

Harness Racing New Zealand will have a presence at the Rural Games for the first time and has a vision for Standardbred horse welfare.

Standardbred Harness Racing charity will be at Rural Games 2020.
Standardbred Harness Racing charity will be at Rural Games 2020.

HRNZ general manager Liz Bishop says their mission is to work with racing industry trainers, breeders, and owners and rehoming groups, government organisations and welfare groups to enable the care of the Standardbred horses to exceed the current animal welfare standards.

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"Every Standardbred horse should be treated with respect, compassion and understanding and shall receive a standard of care which allows them to enjoy a good quality of life while in the racing industry and on retirement.

"Standardbreds can have successful careers after racing in many equestrian disciplines.

"Our aim is to increase awareness of their suitability for showing, sports horse activities, trekking and so much more," says Bishop.

Canine Friends Pet Therapy volunteers take well-behaved dogs into rest homes, hospices, special education units and hospitals around the country.

CFPT Manawatū events coordinator liaison officer Ann Evans says dogs make a genuine difference to the outlook of people who are going through a difficult time.

"It's something we really see a lot in the rural community.

"For those who have retired from farm life, or who are too ill to be on the farm – they really miss the daily interaction with their animals so seeing and interacting with dogs can make a huge difference to their outlook."