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150 years of caring for and protecting animals

02 May 2022
150 years of caring for and protecting animals

This year is a momentous one for SPCA. Why? Because it marks SPCA’s 150 years of service, helping animals in need across Aotearoa New Zealand. Since 1872, we’ve worked tirelessly to advance animal welfare in our communities and prevent cruelty against innocent animals. Together, with your support, we will remain in their corner for many years to come.

Where it all began

SPCA’s roots began in Canterbury and quickly spread to Otago, Auckland and Wellington. In 150 years, SPCA has since flourished into a nationwide organisation. We have SPCA Centres in 33 towns and cities, and our services are available across the country, from the top of the North Island to the bottom of New Zealand in Southland.

The first national law protecting animals in New Zealand was passed in 1878. Against the backdrop of war and human rights issues in the early 1900s, our organisation had a hard road to elevate the issues of animal cruelty to the forefront of societal conversation, and assert their right as living – and sentient – creatures.

Improving the conditions for working animals was a large part of the focus in the early days, with cruelty to horses particularly common. Then, the treatment of bobby calves and transportation of farmed animals were other significant issues needing reform. SPCA has put in the hard yards since our beginning to shape the public perception of how animals should be treated. You - our kind community of animal lovers – have been a steadfast voice for the animals every step of the way.

Becoming one, unified voice for animal welfare

November 2017 was a turning point in SPCA’s history. SPCA delegates voted to form one national organisation, unifying independent Centres to create a future-focused national entity. Since then, we have been one SPCA in New Zealand. By sharing our resources across the country to support SPCA Centres that were once struggling and providing specialist care and treatment to animals regardless of location, we have ultimately saved more animals’ lives. Through all of these milestones, we couldn’t be more thankful to our supporters like you who have stuck by the animals through thick and thin.

How working together as ‘one’ changed Flynn’s life

Four months of recovery and three SPCA Centres later, Flynn has had quite the journey at SPCA. It started off like many others, where Flynn was found lying injured in the middle of a road in Hastings. A vet assessment revealed that Flynn was suffering from a significant fracture in his leg and the journey ahead wasn’t going to be easy – he would need a pin put in place to help him heal and weeks of crate rest.

Working as one SPCA across the country has meant good things for animals like Flynn. They are no longer bound by their geographical location and can get specialist treatment regardless of where they are located, and can move around the country to give them the best chance at finding their perfect home. After time with the team at SPCA's Napier Centre, Flynn went to SPCA Wellington to get the specialist surgery he needed and continue his recovery in their hospital unit. After recovering, he was made available for adoption at SPCA's Centre in the Wairarapa, and we are delighted to report that just two weeks ago, he was adopted!

It really takes a village, and Flynn’s story is a testament to that!

Forward thinking – preventing cruelty before it happens

Over the years, SPCA has continued to be at the forefront of animal welfare. We have been seen as many things and had many names, such as the ‘Police force of the animal world’ or the ‘guardian of sentient creatures’. While many of these descriptions still stand true, it is safe to say that SPCA’s biggest shift has been expanding the scope of our work.

Our focus is no longer just on safeguarding animals under the Animal Welfare Act 1999, it isalso to prevent animal abuse before it happens. To achieve this, we are educating and engaging with our communities, advocating for better outcomes at a Government level to change laws, and desexing thousands of animals to break the cycles of unwanted litters. We are a nation of animal lovers, and by empowering our nation’s people, we can create a community where all animals are treated with compassion and respect.

This work is where we see real change taking place, and it is SPCA’s hope to see all animals treated with compassion and respect over the next 150 years. When you choose to support SPCA, you make this vital, life-changing work possible. Your unwavering commitment will allow us to continue our 150-year heritage in helping all creatures, great and small.

“Prevention must be regarded as the key to S.P.C.A activity. The number of prosecutions should scarcely be regarded as a suitable yard-stick in judging the success of any Branch. Inspectors who are vigilant will prevent cruelty at its source and thus remove the need for Court action. Court proceedings, should, however, be taken against flagrant breeches of the law, especially in those cases where callous disregard of common decency is obvious. Wherever possible, education along the lines of Prevention of Cruelty should be regarded as the duty of the Inspectorate.” - Excerpt from old Inspectors Handbook

Want to celebrate? Here’s how you can commemorate SPCA’s 150th Birthday

SPCA Trade Me Auction

  • To honour 150 years of caring and protecting animals, SPCA is holding a one-of-a-kind Trade Me auction, with the proceeds raised helping us carry out our vital work for New Zealand’s animals. Click here to check out our unique items and once-in-a-lifetime experiences available as they get listed throughout the month of May!

Get your school involved

  • Throughout May, we are inviting schools and early learning services across the country to take part in an animal-themed dress up day to support SPCA. Register your school’s interest here!

Want to join us? Here’s a few ways you can make a difference for animals in need for the next 150 years

  • Donate – small acts of kindness make a huge difference. Whether you donate financially to SPCA, or donate goods to your closest SPCA centre, any gift you can give – big or small - will help us secure a better future for New Zealand’s animals
  • Adopt Every year, thousands of animals of all shapes, sizes and ages come into our SPCA centres nationwide. All of them have an individual story and all of them deserve a second chance at life
  • Volunteer and foster – Whether you want to donate your time helping at SPCA Centre’s or Op Shops, or open your home to care for an animal in need, there are lots of volunteering and fostering opportunities at SPCA
  • Leave a legacy Leaving a gift to SPCA will have a lasting impact on animals in need for generations to come and will help ensure that SPCA will always be here to help animals.

Thank you for supporting SPCA and caring and protecting animals for another 150 years to come. It is because of you that we’re able to serve the animals, and save lives.

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