Driving Dogs Continue To Drive Adoptions In New Zealand

A New Zealand campaign launched in December continues to encourage the practice of adopting shelter dogs.

The New Zealand arm of the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), teamed up with animal trainer Mark Vette from Animals on Q, MINI New Zealand and its agency, Draftfcb New Zealand to teach three shelter dogs how to drive a car. Monty, Porter and Ginny were taught how to brake, shift gears, turn the steering wheel and accelerate in a modified MINI Countryman Cooper S.

Training videos showing the dogs learning the ropes immediately went viral, leading up to the grand finale.

“On Dec. 10, consumers were invited to tune in to Campbell Live to see a dog driving for the first time live on television,” said James Mok, executive creative director at Draftfcb Asia Pacific. “From there, people could go to the Auckland SPCA website or find the location of their nearest SPCA, where they could learn about the dogs available for adoption.”

Porter and Monty drove down a racetrack, managed corners and delighted the world, along with the trainers who worked with the animals for eight weeks.

"Dogs this smart deserve a home," was the apt campaign tagline that sent folks flocking to the SPCA Auckland, which found its entire stock of puppies adopted within weeks of the campaign.

Two of the three driving dogs were actually adopted by people who helped teach them to drive. Mok says all three dogs meet regularly for play dates and have Facebook pages where fans can follow the pooches’ updates.

With momentum continuing to run high following this campaign, SPCA Auckland recently launched a follow-up to the campaign where every dog adopted received a car to drive home in. This time around, though, the car wasn’t real.

“We created a special carry box shaped just like a MINI,” said Mok. “With a convertible roof, the box also transformed into a dog bed where puppies could happily spend the first eight weeks of their lives. New owners had the option to customize the car with an alphabetic sticker sheet to create a personalized license plate. It was also accompanied by an owner’s manual. Thanks to MINI, all dogs had the opportunity to drive.”

Now that we know that dogs can drive cars, what’s next, an airplane?

“We joked with Mark Vette from Animals on Q about teaching a dog to fly a plane,” concluded Mok. “He got very excited about that -- but unless MINI start making planes, that idea probably won’t get off the ground.”

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