We go behind the scenes at Auckland Animal Shelters to chat to Tania, a Senior Kennel Attendant at Manukau Shelter.
Tell us a bit about what you do?
I basically cover all the different things you need to when you’re looking after a dog – feeding them, giving them their meds, taking them to the vet, exercising each of them individually, training them up to be adoption ready, introducing them to potential owners and so on. If I have a free moment I fix things up like signs, tags, poles and gear.
(I also help run Auckland Council’s Animal Shelter’s Facebook page and take photos and videos of what our dogs are up to – so you can get a peek behind the scenes there as well).
So, you’re the one making those adorable posts! How many dogs are you normally looking after?
We normally have between 70-90 dogs staying in our shelter – so you can imagine exercising and feeding all of them takes a while! We can hold up to 120 dogs.
Is this always what you wanted to do?
I always wanted to work with animals. My room growing up was full of any creature I could get my hands on – rabbits, birds, tadpoles, frogs, goldfish…you name it. It came naturally to me – I wanted to be around animals and I wanted to look after them. Even as a kid, I knew they were my responsibility.
What did you do before working at council?
I worked on a few farms – mostly dealing with horses, and then focused on show dogs. That made me want to work with dogs more and when I saw an ad in the local paper for a kennel attendant that was that.
Tell us about the dog adoption process? How does it work?
I’ll chat to the humans first to find out about their situation and what sort of dog they’re after – then introduce them to some dogs and let them get to know each other.
Afterwards, I’ll write up how the visit went and what the setup is for looking after a dog, if their house fully fenced; how long they’re away from home each day and those sorts of things.
Normally we want to do a second visit if they have another dog or kids in the household that hasn’t meet the shelter dog yet before giving the ok to take the dog home. We don’t want people to take the dog home, realise it’s not right and then sell it on.
As a note: even if a dog doesn’t work out, please bring them back rather than selling them on! We’d prefer to have them safe with us or even be able to give them to someone else who was interested.
What’s your favourite part of the job?
As obvious it is to say – I love working with the dogs! From the cute timid types to the friendly fluffies or the feisty and fierce – they’re all so different, but when they’re here I think of them as my dogs and care for them as if they were.
Funnily enough, I especially like working with challenging dogs – it’s hard, but you’re upskilling and truly earning their trust. Dogs will come in scared and shying away from you – then one day they’re waiting at the gate for you, tail wagging away. That’s an amazing feeling.
What do you want Aucklanders to know about Auckland Animal Shelters?
It’s not a bad place. All of us who work there care deeply about dogs. After all, we spend most of our day hosing down poop – if we didn’t love dogs, we certainly wouldn’t be doing that! It’s not just about playing with them all day and teaching them tricks – it’s a hard job.
Please note that a fully fenced section or suitable containment area is needed to adopt a dog. More information on dog adoptions can be found here.