SPCA is calling on New Zealanders to rally together to help put an end to animal cruelty, as the charity continues to see a concerning number of reports of neglected, abused and abandoned animals.
Each year, SPCA receives around 14,000 calls of concern from the public regarding allegations of cruelty and other welfare issues. With April being Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month, New Zealand’s largest animal welfare charity hopes to shine a light on the issue and to encourage communities to take a stand against cruelty and neglect.
“There shouldn’t need to be a month dedicated to highlighting the fact that animal cruelty is still happening in 2022, but unfortunately, the reality is that some people continue to treat animals in appalling ways,” says SPCA Chief Executive Andrea Midgen. “We will do whatever it takes to end animal cruelty, but it’s a challenge we can’t face on our own. Animal welfare is a community issue and we need every Kiwi to play their part in being responsible pet owners and stamping out cruelty.”
SPCA is asking people to get in touch if they see something that’s not quite right, and if they have concerns about the welfare of an animal to report it as soon as possible so that the appropriate authorities can step in to help.
“For the last 150 years, SPCA has been the voice for New Zealand’s vulnerable animals and we’re asking Kiwis, who we know love animals as much as we do, to help be their voice too,” says Ms Midgen. “So often we see heartbreaking cases where animals have been abused or neglected for some time, but no one has spoken up. If you see something of concern, please report it so that we can intervene before it’s too late.”
SPCA National Inspectorate Manager Alan Wilson says cruelty and neglect are something his team continues to see on a daily basis across the country, and it never gets easier to witness.
“Sadly, in the last year we’ve seen everything from emaciated, starved animals, to dogs left on chains for so long that they’re unable to exercise, seek shelter or even go to the toilet in a separate area,” says Mr Wilson. “Then there are the cases where there are deliberate acts of violence inflicted on innocent animals, and it’s frankly sickening to see this is still happening. It’s absolutely awful for the animals and upsetting for our staff who have to deal with it.”
While SPCA continues to see instances of deliberate cruelty towards animals, Inspectors also commonly investigate cases where people may be unintentionally neglecting their pet’s welfare due to a change in personal circumstances, or a simple lack of education about animal care.
“This is where our Inspectors are working hard to create long-term change by working alongside pet owners to educate them about responsible pet care, and ensuring they have the tools to make better decisions for their animals going forward,” says Mr Wilson. “With this approach, we’ve seen incremental improvements in the way many animals are cared for, as their owners become more aware of what an animal needs. Of course, where appropriate, we will also continue to hold people to account through prosecution.”
SPCA is the only animal welfare charity in New Zealand that has powers to enforce the Animal Welfare Act, but receives just a small portion of Government funding annually to do this ($2.5M). As a result, SPCA must rely almost solely on donations from the public to not only operate its Inspectorate service, but to care for the 35,000 animals that come through its doors each year.
“Unfortunately, despite rising inflation and other costs, the Government has not committed to boosting SPCA’s funding for our Inspectorate service,” says Ms Midgen. “We hope to see an increase in funding in May’s Budget, but in the meantime, we’d like to thank all the animal-loving Kiwis who generously donate to SPCA, and allow us to do what we do for the animals.”
People can support SPCA by:
· Donating money, pet items to their local Centre, or items for their local SPCA Op Shop to sell
· Volunteering for their local SPCA Centre
· Becoming an SPCA foster parent
· Shopping at SPCA’s Op Shops
· Raising funds for SPCA through SPCA’s fundraising events