The Ford Ranger New Zealand Rural Games is expecting a few more four-legged visitors this year, due to its support of animal welfare organisations.

Nightrave has been at the Rural Games for the past two years. The charity represents a different kind of working dog.

"Dogs and horses are a huge part of many successful farms and families and have been for generations. I'm thrilled that we've had sponsors come on board to help each of these charities to raise their public profile during the Games" said founder and trustee Steve Hollander.

Retired Working Dogs is a charity that finds forever homes for dogs who have finished their working life on farm.

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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 said Fundraising Manager Karen Cox.

Nightrave is a nation-wide adoption agency for greyhounds who have retired from racing. Nightrave aim to match families and individuals with a greyhound that will suit their individual needs as pet owners to ensure each greyhound finds the perfect home.

Nightrave also provide further training for specific greyhounds that may need some extra attention on their journey to becoming a pet.

"The games allow us to showcase our wonderful greyhounds and what terrific pets they make after finishing their racing career. This year, Greyhound Racing New Zealand are also focusing on educating the public about our rehoming efforts and the training each greyhound goes through to transition into life as a full-time pet" said Marketing Specialist Lisa Jaques.

Standardbreds racing. Photo / Supplied
Standardbreds racing. Photo / Supplied

This year Harness Racing New Zealand will have a presence at the Rural Games for the first time, representing its vision for Standardbred welfare with Life after Racing.

"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" said General Manager Corporate Services, Liz Bishop.

"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".

Listen to Jamie Mackay interview NZ Rural Games founder Steve Hollander on The Country below:

The other charity at this year's Games is Canine Friends Pet Therapy. Their volunteers take well-behaved dogs into rest homes, hospices, special education units and hospitals around the country.

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Ann Evans, the Manawatu Events Coordinator and Liaison Officer of Canine Friends Pet Therapy said dogs made a genuine difference to the outlook of people who are going through a difficult time, something that is common 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".

The animal charities were a welcome addition to the 2020 Ford Ranger New Zealand Rural Games and "will be a huge hit with our competitors and attendees - young and old alike" said Hollander.

Find out more about the 2020 Ford Ranger New Zealand Rural Games here.