PD and DOC Partner
to educate dog owners on protecting wildlife
Ahead of tomorrow’s International Dog Day, the Department of Conservation (DOC) today launched its Auckland ‘Lead the Way’ programme to help protect native wildlife, dogs and people on our beaches. Supporting this work as programme partner is PD Insurance, a passionate advocate for animal welfare and responsible pet ownership. (Watch the launch event recording here)
Auckland’s beaches are home to a diverse array of marine mammals and sea birds with many in decline and under threat, such as fur seals/kekeno, little penguins/kororā, red-billed gulls/tarāpunga, NZ dotterel/tūturiwhatu and many more.
Beaches are also a favourite destination for dogs and their owners, posing a risk to the wellbeing of these mammals and birds, says Laura Boren, DOC Science Advisor Mountains to Sea Team. “This is why there needs to be a stronger focus on enabling each to enjoy the coast together in harmony.”
PD Insurance NZ Chief Operating Officer Michelle Le Long says, “We are proud to partner with DOC in Auckland and are putting extensive time and effort into this crucial programme.”
“PD Insurance is committed to empowering New Zealanders to be the best possible pet parents and wildlife-wise community members. Lead the Way recognises the risks wildlife faces on the coastline, while also understanding the need for dogs and their owners to enjoy these areas too.
“We know the vast majority are respectful, responsible and have positive intentions when heading out. Lead the Way aims to further build their awareness around how dogs and wildlife can happily experience the coast simultaneously in an even safer way for all involved.
“The programme focuses on reducing the impact of dogs on coastal wildlife via effective public engagement and education. As a pet insurance provider established to safeguard animal health, and with our own heavy focus on educating New Zealanders about best practice pet care and management, this partnership makes complete sense to us.”
A key element of the awareness-raising effort is a quiz that educates and then tests people on their knowledge of the coastline’s animals and risks posed to both wildlife and dogs. Visit the Lead the Way quiz at www.doc.govt.nz/lead-the-way-quiz.
Beaches – wildlife sanctuaries and dog playgrounds
DOC’s Laura Boren says canine companions can cause chaos for native wildlife, are a primary threat for seal and sea lion pups, and can adversely impact different species in myriad ways.
“Even a playful and rambunctious dog simply getting his exercise may disturb sunbathing seals, scare penguins, or destroy the beach nests of birds such as dotterel, fairy terns, godwits, and oyster catchers.
“Further, many dogs have an innate tendency to stalk, injure or predate wildlife, even if playing. Some pet owners are unaware of risks their dogs present to coastal wildlife, and to other dogs.”
Lead the Way recognises that it is possible for dogs and wildlife to happily co-exist, and urges pet owners to take a key role in enabling this by taking on board some simple tips.
“Through a variety of community engagement activities, our Lead the Way collaboration with PD Insurance will communicate the steps we can all take to better protect the animals that live and breed on our coasts,” says Laura Boren.
“We appreciate PD Insurance getting behind this campaign and helping us spread the word about how important it is to protect our taonga species, many of which breed on only a select number of beaches in the Auckland area.”
Campaigning to safeguard dogs as well as wildlife
Dogs can harm one another too, physically and emotionally. Many pet parents have suffered the shock of their dog either being charged down or charging down someone else’s. This is why Lead the Way is also about better protecting dogs.
“Anyone who has walked a dog knows the challenges of interactions between on-lead and off-lead dogs. We and DOC are urging dog owners to practice proactive management when outdoors, in protecting both native coastal species and each other,” Michelle Le Long adds.
Tips include scanning for wildlife, bringing a toy for distracting your pup, advising others if you spot wildlife, and knowing where on the beach is the best place for human and canine activity.
Pet parents are also strongly encouraged to complete the three-minute Lead the Way quiz and, if they choose, purchase a Lead the Way lead for their dog.
While signifying a commitment to wildlife-wise dog ownership, these high-quality, locally-made leads provide a visual clue of the dog’s temperament:
- Green means they are friendly with dogs and people
- Orange signals caution; the dog is sometimes uneasy/reactive with new dogs or people
- Red is a clear warning; the dog is often nervous or reactive with new dogs or people
- Yellow means they are disabled or vulnerable to interactions in some other way
Michelle Le Long urges everyone to complete the Lead the Way ‘wildlife wise’ quiz to become a more aware pet parent and community member, saying, “Through this we can all contribute to conserving one of our most precious taonga – our country’s unique and wonderful fauna.”
To purchase a Lead the Way lead for your dog or learn more about the programme, visit https://www.doc.govt.nz/dogs-on-beaches-auckland.
Leandri Smith – The Mail Room
027 365 9003 | [email protected]