A MEETING with Emma Potts quickly reveals a selfless, kind woman with a great passion for animals, particularly dogs.
Emma has been nominated for an award at this year's Master Dog Breeders and Associates awards, for Excellence in Contribution and Leadership in Canine Affairs, as a result of her work with Taree Dogs In Need.
About two and a half years ago Emma decided to start Taree Dogs In Need, a Facebook page that lists dogs from Taree Pound looking for new homes.
She had previously been a foster carer for dogs, however when her beloved dog Scratch developed a medical condition she had to give up fostering to help him.
Still wanting to help the dogs and hopefully save as many as she could from being put down, Taree Dogs In Need was born.
Emma attends Taree Pound most days where she takes photos, notes and does temperament testing on the dogs, also speaking with rangers and contacting local and regional rescue organisations to try and re-home the dogs before it is too late.
She will then publish photos of the dogs on the Taree Dogs In Need Facebook page, giving followers the chance to adopt one of the canines.
"It's been great to see how the page has grown and the community has really gotten behind it," said Emma.
The page currently has almost 3000 'likes' and that number continues to grow.
"At any one time there can be up to nine dogs in the pound, all looking for new homes and so I'll gauge their temperament and nature and then do up profiles and try to use my contacts as well as the Facebook page to find a new home for them," Emma explained.
"I've got a great working relationship with council now and that's really important."
If anything, Emma is most excited about the rise in people wanting to adopt pets and the increase in awareness of impounded animals, with her biggest push being for "responsible pet ownership".
"Owning a pet isn't something to be taken lightly, they deserve lots of time, training and nurturing and often the animals that come in with serious behavioural issues, it's by no fault of their own, rather it's their owners that have failed them," she said.
The cost to adopt a dog from Taree Pound is $306 which includes all vet work, microchipping, vaccinations, desexing and a lifetime registration with Greater Taree City Council.
Emma has lost count of the number of dogs she has successfully rehomed but said she will never tire of seeing the animals prosper in their new environments.
She is supported by husband Brad but admits that there's lots of hard work involved.
"Sometimes I've found myself thinking 'why am I doing this when their owners can't be bothered', but it's about the animal and that's the most important thing."
Emma gets teary when she recalls how all of this started thanks to Scratch, and admits that there's a little bit of him in every rescue she does.
"He was my beautiful boy and he passed not long after I started doing this so it's kind of his legacy," she said.
"He was the inspiration behind all of this."
Emma will find out if she has won the award in May but says she still can't believe she was even nominated.
"I just do this because I love the dogs and seeing them safe in new, loving environments makes it all worth it," explained a modest Emma.
There is currently an abundance of medium to large staffy/cross breeds looking for new homes throughout Australia.
Anyone interested in adopting a pet can contact Emma via the Taree Dogs In Need Facebook page.