Press ‘paws’ on animal poverty

Billie Te Tau’s Bilbo’s Dogpaws Rescue has handed out 700 food parcels this year to local residents from Te Puke to Katikati. Photo: John Borren.

The cost-of-living crisis is hitting Bay of Plenty pet owners hard with the number of unwanted animals getting dumped or euthanised out of desperation at an all-time high, according to a Tauranga-based animal rescue operator.

“Every day, we get between five and 10 requests for help and some people call threatening to have their animals impounded or put to sleep because they can’t afford to care for them anymore,” says Billie Te Tau, who launched Bilbo’s Dogpaws Rescue 13 years ago.

“It’s ten times worse than when we first started. Some families are barely able to feed themselves, so we see a lot of puppies dumped on the side of the road.

“In some recent cases, we rescued them too late and had to watch the pups die from parvovirus. It can be very emotional, especially when we’re limited with our resources.”

Bilbo’s Dogpaws Rescue is a not-for-profit organisation that’s been operating out of Welcome Bay for four years, since Billie and her family shifted to the Bay from Auckland.

Late last month fellow dog rescue organisation Rescue, Revive, Rehome Bay of Plenty had to temporarily close its doors to taking new dogs from pounds due to adoptions being so slow.

“No – we can’t take in any more dogs at the moment – but it’s definitely a temporary measure until we can clear some dogs out through adoption,” says RRR BOP spokesperson Ronnie McAllum.

Meanwhile, Vada’s Angels Animal Rescue Tauranga – which was forced to close temporarily in March due to soaring vet bills – has only reopened its doors to fostering and adopting new dogs this week.

“Our capacity is limited to the number of available fosters, so we urgently need more volunteers to join our foster programme,” says Vada’s Angels founder Kat Thompson.

Billie says statistics recently reported show in the last financial year, more than 2500 dogs were euthanised nationwide. “One hundred and fifty of them simply because shelters were full,” says Billie.

By comparison, the year before no dogs were put down because of overcrowding.

Billie says it means the focus of Bilbo’s Dogpaws Rescue in Tauranga has shifted. Due to the lack of funding and facilities she can’t take in any more rescues – so instead she’s helping other agencies to try to stay open by fostering for them and providing supplies.

“We’re now more of a pet foodbank,” says. Billie

“We’ve handed out 700 food parcels this year to local residents all the way from Te Puke to Katikati. If dog owners can’t pick up, we deliver.

“We’re passionate about animals and their welfare and believe pet owners need this support, so we’ll continue for as long as we can.”

Billie either buys the supplies herself or relies on donations of food, beds, blankets, collars and leads from BOP companies and generous locals.

“Vet bills are extreme, so we need help to fund desexing operations,” says Billie. “Pet owners want to do it but it’s very expensive.”

Bilbo’s Dogpaws Rescue picked up two community awards last month for its contribution to pets in the community. One from Elliotts Funeral Service and another from Epic Te Puke.

“We can only do so much. It’s not a big facility. I have three rooms in the house with a shed and an office with supplies for our rescues and the community. Any help locals can provide would be amazing.” To contact Billie, email:

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