SPCA New Zealand

Break the chain. Change the law.

18 July 2022

Every year at SPCA, we’re heartbroken by the hundreds of dogs we see spending their lives on chains or locked up in tiny spaces. This is why we’ve been asking the Government to act and change the law, so that we can help these innocent animals before it’s too late. You can help break the chain and change the law.

Break the chain. Change the law.

In New Zealand right now, there are thousands of dogs who are spending their lives on chains, or confined to small areas. SPCA has many cases reported to us, or highlighted as concerns by the public, where we wish we could take more action. But we can’t, because the law won’t let us.

The physical and mental suffering these animals are experiencing as a result is unacceptable and SPCA demands the Government to do something about it – and now.

The missing link - a change to legislation

Currently, the law makes it very difficult for SPCA to intervene unless the dog has physical wounds, is physically suffering from lack of food, or has no access to shelter or water. While SPCA has the power to intervene in these severe conditions, no animal should endure the harm that comes from being tied to a chain, or locked in a tiny space, for the majority of their life.

Life chaining, or what we refer to as ‘prolonged tethering and confinement’, is a significant animal welfare issue in New Zealand and something we’ve been working hard to try and change behind the scenes with Government.

Any change to law takes time. The Government has said they would consider changes, but not having a concrete timeframe for this is unacceptable. We need to put the pressure on to make sure this happens fast. We want New Zealanders to get behind us, and call for the Government ban life chaining and confinement of dogs.

Will you join us to take action on behalf of these dogs? Email Minister Whaitiri, Minister of Agriculture (Animal Welfare), using our letter template in the link below.

It shouldn't get to this point...

Rupert and DD are just two heartbreaking examples of how bad it currently has to get before we can take action. Their stories highlight the more serious cases our Inspectors face, where they’ve legally been able to take action only due to the severe physical harm caused to each animal.

We need to be able to step in well before it gets to this point for these poor dogs.

Rupert's story

Rupert was found following a call of concern about a dog chained up and surrounded by blackberry bushes. When SPCA Inspectors arrived at the property, they discovered a dog who had no water and his chain was so restrictive, he could only just reach his kennel. He was thirsty and emaciated, with pressure sores over his body.

Rupert had fly-bitten ears, scratches on his face from the thorny bushes, and his heavy chain had dug deep into his neck. He also had a toe injury that later required amputation. The ground was worn down to the dirt around him, showing Inspectors that Rupert had been chained in one spot for some time.

This was an instance where we could act. Inspectors immediately took Rupert into SPCA’s care, where he began to receive the love and care he needed. While Rupert’s physical condition was promptly addressed with vet care, the psychological harm caused by being chained up for so much time took longer to heal. When he first came to our care, Rupert was frightened, easily startled and was also very strong pulling on the lead when was taken for a walk – something we frequently see with dogs that have spent a significant period of their life chained up.

With rehabilitation and training, Rupert eventually learned how to walk without pulling his handler over, and began to discover his own passions – playing with other dogs and a love for soft toys. Our team said watching Rupert develop since he’s been in SPCA’s care has been like watching a puppy discover the world for the first time, despite him being a fully grown dog.

DD's story

After receiving a call of concern about a dog with a serious neck injury at a property, an SPCA Inspector arrived at the address to find DD, a Shar Pei cross, tethered to her kennel.

She had a severe wound around her neck, where the tether had cut through her fur and into her skin. DD’s owner told our Inspector they’d tied her up to prevent her from escaping through a broken gate. The owner had left the dog tethered while they’d gone away for two weeks, and had organised for various relatives and friends to pop by and feed her. No one had noticed that the tether had tangled around DD’s neck and was cutting into her skin.

DD was taken into SPCA’s care where it was found her neck wound was so deep that it required stitches. Fortunately, DD had a smooth recovery and was adopted into a new family, where she could receive the love and care she deserves.

Break the chain – email the Minister now using our letter template

Join us to help demand the legislative change needed to help more dogs live better lives. We need our community to stand with SPCA, support our stance and our work, and write to Minister Whaitiri – so we can be a nationwide, unified voice on this key animal welfare issue.

How you can support our work

SPCA receives just 5% Government funding, not nearly enough to cover the work of our Inspectorate. Yet we’re mandated by Government to do this important work and our communities are calling out for more people to be held to account for the way they treat their animals.

We need our communities' support and the generosity of New Zealanders so we can be there for the animals who need us. Together, we can fight for a better future for animals. Your donations help us to rescue, rehabilitate and re-home thousands of animals in need every year, as well as advocate for improvements to animal welfare law.

Read more: What it'll take to break the chain.

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