SAVING one dog will not change the world, but for that one dog, the world will change forever: That is the proud motto of the newly formed Ararat Dog Rescue, according to founder and co-ordinator, Kayley Webster.
Ararat Dog Rescue was set up just a month ago to help re-home dogs and give them a second chance.
"We already have had 12 dogs in our foster care and four have been successfully re-homed," Ms Webster said.
Most people love their canine companions because they bring so much happiness and joy to the household. But sometimes things just don't work out and it's time to look for a new home, or sadly they face the inevitable and look at getting the dog put down.
That's when the Ararat Dog Rescue service can help.
"We want to save these dogs by finding a new home with loving, caring owners," Ms Webster said.
But it's not always easy and the process is rigid for all concerned. The rescue service can only take dogs that are directly surrendered by the owners.
"Dogs are handed in for many reasons. Owners passing away, moving house, time constraints, an unwanted gift, financial reasons and, of course, behavioural problems," she said.
"Once surrendered to us the dogs are placed into care with foster families who treat them as their own. While living with our foster carers the dogs are trained to walk on a lead and learn basic commands. We try to bring out the best in each dog so that they have a successful transition into their new 'fur-ever home'.
The most important thing is to teach them to trust humans, according to Ms Webster, who is assisted by her team of foster carers.
"We had one dog that would react to any sudden movements or loud noises. He was so frightened that we couldn't even touch him. It has taken time and patience but now he trusts people again. He plays ball in the backyard with my two sons, aged three and four. He's still a bit wary of men but we're working on that and see improvement each day," she said.
Once the dogs are re-settled into their foster carer's home, they are taken to the vet to be de-sexed, micro-chipped, vaccinated, as well as treated for any fleas or worms.
"Then it's time to hopefully find them a fur-ever home on a full-time basis," said Ms Webster.
"They are put up for adoption on our Facebook page, which already has had over 500 hits. Or you can email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 0431411918."
As a busy mum with little time on her hands, Ms Webster is often asked why she established the Ararat Dog Rescue service.
"We had a lovely dog at home but decided to rescue another. That's when I spoke with Ash and Lynley from Stawell Adoptables, who were my biggest help. I also received valuable input from Julia at Wodonga Dog Rescue, where we adopted our second dog," said Ms Webster.
"I then decided to do more for our not-so fortunate, furry friends and set up a similar service in Ararat, where I've lived all my life. I've also had some great help and support from Emilie Webster and Nina Henry.
"Nina puts the dog through its paces to make sure it has good manners and is ready for adoption. Emilie takes on a number of dogs because she lives on 2 acres so there's lots of space to run around."
Ms Webster believes it is imperative to meet the foster carers personally, to ensure they are, of course, true dog-lovers ready to give unconditional care and affection. The local community has also been keen to support this new initiative in Ararat.
"We've had kind donations and messages to help out. But we need more bedding, collars, leads and toys. Bond's Feed Barn has allowed us put a donation crate at their business. So if anyone has any donations please take them there," Ms Webster said.
"And we'll always need more foster carers."
Ararat Dog Rescue will hold a stall at the next Ararat Trash and Treasure Market on the grass area to raise funds. Dog lovers can purchase dog biscuits, dog toys, leads and lots more.