Every year, around 190,000 pets remain unclaimed in Australia’s pounds and shelters, and thousands of volunteers support over 1,000 rescue and animal shelters across Australia,Cathy Beer, founder of the Companion Animal Rescue Awards tells Star Observer.

Now in its third year, the awards recognise and celebrate outstanding examples of rescue, rehabilitation and rehoming of companion animals Australia wide.

I adopted rescue dogs over a decade ago and it got me thinking about the plight of pets that end up in shelters. So, I created the Companion Animal Rescue Awards to celebrate and recognise the great work being done to rescue, rehabilitate and rehome companion animals, giving pets a second chance in a loving home.

Not only does the Rescue Awards showcases excellence and innovation in rescue but also helps to raise the standards of rescue and shelters Australia-wide.

The awards, which cover such categories as Outstanding Animal Shelter, Volunteer of the Year and the Drontal Foster Carer Story among others receives 1000’s of entries from across the country each year.

 Among this year’s winners was a blue staffy, affectionally known as Mumma Zura, who was adopted about five years ago by Sydneysiders Christopher Melotti and husband Scott.

I moved in with my partner and two housemates into a big house in Concord in Sydney, and we decided that we wanted to adopt a dog. Melotti explains. Long story short we went to RSPCA NSW to find the right dog. We went a couple of times but couldn’t find the right match.

But one day they called to say that they had just confiscated a group of blue staffy puppies, that were potentially in a fighting ring I believe, it was not a very good situation.

Mummy Zura

“When they bought out Zura for us, immediately my partner Scott was like ‘yes, she was the one.‘ We adopted her instantly, and she has been phenomenal ever since.”

Chatting with Melotti, it becomes apparent that he and his husband are definitely animal lovers, but who can blame them? Ask anyone who has shared their life with a pet and they will tell you just how unbreakable that bond can be.

 “Dogs are just great, they are always excited to see you, it’s unconditional. You could be gone for five minutes and come back and they could look like they haven’t seen you in years.

After about a year and half of having her she just grew into a lovely dog, and my partner wanted to adopt again. I was a little nervous, so what we did was look at the foster program. They approved us, we got the training, and then we got two cats as our first foster. They came and Zura immediately loved them, it was funny because the cats were a little nervous at first, but they settled in very nicely.”

Since then, Mumma Zura has cared for and nurtured over 200 puppies, ranging from pups that needed a break from the shelter due to behavioural issues, to those involved in Court Cases, abuse victims, and even one deaf pup. 

“She treats them like they were her own. It’s like she has missed her calling as a mum because every litter, she would be all over them, her tail was wagging, and she was just so excited.”

 Despite finding a loving forever home, Mumma Zura has been through her own challenges, including two major bouts of surgery, including a spinal cord procedure. She is scheduled for three more follow up surgeries this coming year. However, she continues to bounce back to be the beautiful Mumma Zura she always has, looking after countless foster pups.

Often people ask how we avoid getting too attached, but we say we treat it as a job. We have our role to play in each dog’s life and we want to do our best so they can move on to their forever home. Scott and I are just so glad we can make a difference in so many animals’ lives.”

With such a huge number of animals continuing to end up in shelters each year, Melotti finishes the interview by saying,

“If people are looking for a pet, I would highly recommend adoption because these dogs need a stable, loving and supportive home. In return they give it back ten-fold. We need to break the stigma that foster dogs are less than quality, because really they are excellent dogs.”

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