Band together for Bandit

Dedicating the little spare time he has to foster caring for homeless dogs, Richmond Football Club defender Ben Griffiths set out with his adopted kelpie Ralphy to promote a charity which rescues dogs facing death in Traralgon last week.

As a foster carer for Australian Working Dogs Rescue, an organisation which takes dogs unclaimed from council pounds and organises foster care and re-homing, Mr Griffiths is hoping to spread the word about the not-for-profit organisation.

When he is not at training kicking a football, Mr Griffiths is home with his adopted kelpie Ralphy and a red heeler who he is also foster caring, or testing dogs to see if they are suitable for working environments.

“It’s not too hard to balance, obviously I have a lot of time commitment with football but when I get home I just take them straight down to the park and spend an hour and a half with them,” he said.

“During season I have every Wednesday off, so I go down to Warburton, and take Ralphy with me as well, and put them on the sheep, see if they can work.

“If they can, they stay up there and keep getting trained and find homes where they can work sheep or cattle or even just stockyards.”

Mr Griffiths said while he loved looking after Ralphy and looked forward to caring for more dogs, he also enjoyed spreading awareness of the organisation’s work.

“If I can make a small difference and make people more aware and get more people involved in fostering or even donating, ” he said at a barbecue raising funds for costly operation on a kelpie much like Ralphy.

Kelly Vickers, a foster carer in Moe, said she was lucky to have the land to host and rehabilitate litters of puppies as well as single dogs.

“I reckon we’re up to about 34 or 35 dogs since January, we deal with a lot of puppies; they tend to go through a lot quicker as well, we’ve had a few seniors as well,” Ms Vickers said.

“We’ll only send our dogs that are basically bomb-proof so that we know they’re safe with kids and we know what sort of family they need to go to, we know their temperament and if they should go to a family or a working environment.

“We pride ourselves on matching the dogs to the right adoptive homes which is good; adoption really is quite a good way of saving someone that needs you and still being a responsible pet owner.”

AWDR Victorian re-homing coordinator Carolynne Rankcom said while Gippsland had a good base of animal foster carers, there was always room for more.

“The foster carers actually bridge the gap between a death situation and going on to have new life again,” Ms Rankcom said.

“Hopefully we can get some interested foster carers on board; we have a fairly reasonable presence in Gippsland which is fantastic, being that we have such a strong farming community; it’s awesome.”