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Happy new year to all readers.  I hope you had an enjoyable Christmas and a good holiday.

Many families will have acquired new pets for Christmas and most will become much loved and be well cared for.  Sadly, however, as was reported by Trade Me, a record number were abandoned by Boxing Day, and that’s why the animal rescue organisation within our region, Paws 4 Life, is so important.

Since beginning in 2010, Paws 4 Life has rescued over 5000 animals.  Managing Director Rachael Maher says Waikato has huge kitten, cat, puppy and dog issues, and the problem is greater when compared with other regions in New Zealand.

“Some areas in New Zealand have their de-sexing and population of animals under control. However, in Waikato the de-sexing message is not getting through,” she says.

“We find that there are owners who believe their animals are better off if they have that one litter.  It’s an old school theory and we are continually working to change that mind-set. De-sexing and micro-chipping are a one-off cost that solves a lifetime of problems.”

Paws 4 Life don’t just take kittens or puppies, they work with older animals that have been injured or are stray or sick.  “We have rescued kittens, cats, puppies, dogs, lambs, birds, hedgehogs – any animal that needs help, we will help!”

Paws 4 Life operates from one main shelter and the animals grow up or rehabilitate in loving foster homes. Fosterers are always required to take puppies, dogs, a mother cat and her kittens or just the kittens, depending on their age.  The foster homes are provided with a crate, bedding, food and all other necessities.

“People enjoy fostering as they can do it at a time that suits them and their family,” says Rachael.  “We want the animals to be a part of their life, we want the children to cuddle them, we want them to meet and learn to live with other animals, to be played with, named, socialised and for the fosterer to get to know their personalities, because that is going to help the animal to be adopted.”

Mother cats and dogs generally just need to be loved and time to rest. “The animal didn’t ask to have another huge litter and to be homeless.  They just need love.”

“We have a large network of amazing people who all donate in various ways,” says Rachael. “We operate purely through our team of volunteers who foster, donate time, donate food, donate animal equipment, offer financial support, provide services and generally help in every way that they can, all for the greater good of the animals.”

“At the moment we have a vacancy for a cleaner twice a week – a love of animals is a must!”

Paws 4 Life is 100% operated on donations and fundraising.  All the animals have an adoption fee which helps cover some of the costs.  “No animal leaves without being vet-checked, de-sexed, vaccinated, micro-chipped, registered, flea treated, worm treated and any other health concern looked at,” explains Rachael.

“We need a new cat-trap to replace ones we have lent that have not been returned – this costs $338, but will help a lot of cats in the long-term, and will save animals’ lives.”

“We always need wet and dry kitten and cat food, cheap budget kitty litter, cat and pet equipment like scratching poles and toys that we can send out to foster homes, and old rags or blankets.”

Kitten season is currently in full swing and already proving to be the busiest season ever for Paws 4 Life; however, there is always room for an animal in need. “Our philosophy is to say ‘yes’ to every animal – we will work out the logistics later,” explains Rachael.

“We do this because it is the right thing to do; to alleviate an animal’s suffering is the core reason why we exist.”

Paws 4 Life also provides a rehoming service for pets whose owners are moving into an aged-care facility, or who are deceased. “We are here for those animals too.  The family just needs to give us a call, let us know the time-frame they are working with and make arrangements to bring the animal to us.”

“Owner Surrender means Paws 4 Life becomes the owner of the animal and allows us to rehome them,” explains Rachael. 

Kittens for adoption are available from Petstock at The Base, and Cambridge, with information posted regularly on Paws 4 Life’s Facebook page ( More information regarding fostering, donating and volunteering can be found on

Rachael’s passion for animals and their welfare has not diminished over time, and she is more determined than ever to make a difference where she can.  “I see a life and I just want to do the very best I can for that little life in front of me.”

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