"Volunteering is perfect for me - I have the time, I have the passion" ... Emma Bigwood

"Volunteering is perfect for me - I have the time, I have the passion" ... Emma Bigwood

I love dogs. As long as I can remember I have always loved dogs. To me, life is not complete without a dog in your house.

After owning a dog that died when he was 13, my husband and I got on an Aussie bulldog cross puppy we called Odie. We wanted another dog to keep him company, so we decided to get a rescue dog.

A friend put us on to Staffy Rescue (now Big Dog Rescue), where a staff member, Anthony, asked what we wanted in a dog. We knew we wanted a dog that was sociable with Odie, good with our kids, not too big and preferably a male. I also mentioned that I’d been looking at the profile of a dog called Wombat on their website. Wombat was a Staffordshire bull terrier (Staffy), and Anthony said he thought Wombat would be perfect for us. Introductions were made between Odie and Wombat and Wombat and us, and we fell in love. He was exactly what we were after and we took him home that day.

Almost two years later we’ve never had any cause to regret our decision to adopt Wombat. He’d been at the pound before making his way to Staffy Rescue, and we often speculate as to why he was never collected from the pound – we can’t imagine why his owners wouldn’t have desperately wanted him back. We’ve decided that it’s their loss and our gain.

I found the whole process of adopting Wombat fascinating. I enjoyed meeting the rescuers, and loved reading their rescue blog and following the progress of different dogs.

A number of years ago I had to give up my work as a midwife due to my health, as I have multiple sclerosis (MS). The chronic fatigue associated with the condition is my worst symptom and eventually made work impossible for me. Since then I’ve been a stay-at-home mum. While I loved being home with my kids I felt that my life was missing something. But following the dogs on the blog gave me a new passion – or, rather, reignited an old passion.

I soon discovered that I could help. I realised that animal rescue is a very time-consuming process; one of the things that rescue groups struggle with is finding time to transport the animals they save. The animals need to be picked up from the pound and then taken to the rescue group’s location, be it someone’s home, a vet or a kennel. All this requires is a car, a street directory, some time and an understanding of how to deal with unfamiliar dogs. It was perfect for me – I had the time, the car and the passion!

I started by picking up a black Staffy cross from the local pound, then transported him to Staffy Rescue. It gave me a real buzz, knowing I was helping to save his life – literally, as if he hadn’t been taken from the pound to Staffy Rescue he would have been euthanised. He was renamed Diesel and rehomed very quickly. That made the whole process even more rewarding, knowing that he was safe in his new ‘forever’ home, in part thanks to me.

I initially thought that transporting dogs wasn’t a big thing to do – it’s just an hour or two of my time to drive a dog from a pound to a rescue group. How can that be a big help? But I now realise that it is. That’s two hours the rescue group can put into caring for the animals already in their care, or looking at various pound websites for other animals in need.

I now transport dogs regularly, mainly for Big Dog Rescue, but also for Pound Rounds and other rescue groups. I love being involved in the saving of these lovely dogs, knowing they’ll be safe with a no-kill rescue group until the right family comes for them. I have an album on my Facebook page that has pictures of many of the dogs I've been involved with rescuing. I love looking at these pictures, knowing that I helped to save those dogs. It’s a good feeling.

Australia's shame
This journey into pet rescue has really opened my eyes to what goes on in the companion animal industry in Australia. It’s estimated that 250,000 unwanted dogs and cats are euthanized in Australia every year – that’s around 685 dogs and cats dying every day, many as a direct result of puppy farming and backyard breeding. I don’t know about you, but this number horrifies me. As an animal lover I find it mind-boggling that so many worthy animals are needlessly put down. The good news is that you can help!

How you can help

  • As a pet owner, you can help by making sure that your animal is de-sexed and micro-chipped. This will ensure that there are no unwanted babies to fill up the pounds every day. Micro-chipping means you can be contacted in the event that your animal is lost, meaning that you can be reunited with them.
  • If you want to buy a new companion animal, get it from a registered breeder or rescue group. Don’t buy from a pet shop or a backyard breeder.
  • As an animal lover, you can help in a number of ways. You can help by volunteering for rescue groups, transporting the animals, like I do, or by helping walk dogs or cuddle cats. You can also donate to rescue groups.
  • You can also help by sharing animals in need on various social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

Learn more

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