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Stark reality of animal abuse detailed in SPCA’s annual List of Shame

23 February 2021
Stark reality of animal abuse detailed in SPCA’s annual List of Shame

A dog found in a heart-breaking condition has served as a stark reminder of the appalling animal abuse that takes place in New Zealand every day.

Louie, who is the face of this year’s campaign, was found with matted fur, rotten teeth and a partially degloved leg. He is sadly just one of many animals to be profiled on this year’s List of Shame.

Each year, SPCA releases the List of Shame to remind New Zealanders of the worst cases of animal abuse, neglect, and abandonment to come through SPCA doors over the past year.

Some of the other harrowing stories from this year’s list include: a dog that was left emaciated beyond belief, a duffle bag full of puppies bound with tape and deliberately dumped in a river and a number of horses and sheep left emaciated, in pain and covered in maggots.

The List of Shame has been released ahead of SPCA’s Annual Appeal – its largest fundraising event of the year - which takes place from March 1 to 7. The Annual Appeal encourages funding to support the 35,000 animals rescued by SPCA every year.

SPCA’s CEO, Andrea Midgen, says, “Our organisation works incredibly hard to protect our nation’s most vulnerable animals from abuse, neglect and abandonment. However, the release of the List of Shame makes it clear that violence towards animals continues to prevail across the country. The horrific cases from this year’s list reminds us that there is still much to be done to tackle the issue of animal abuse and we’re determined to give these animals the life they so desperately need and deserve.”

As a charitable organisation, SPCA requires $47 million each year to operate – this includes more than $10 million to run the Inspectorate programme which involves rescuing animals and prosecuting offenders. With minimal government funding, SPCA relies on the public for the majority of its donations.

While the List of Shame details some stories where animals were lucky enough to be rescued and placed in their forever homes, the list also demonstrates the shocking reality and heart-breaking decisions facing SPCA every day.

Louie, who fronts this year’s Annual Appeal, was thankfully able to be rescued and fostered into a loving home. For the seven weeks following Louie’s rescue, despite his injuries, he was living his best life and experienced unconditional love and care. Unfortunately, due to the extent of his injuries – Louie suffered multiple seizures which led to further injuries – and the heart-breaking decision was made to put him to sleep.

“Euthanasia is the absolute last resort and we will do everything in our power to avoid euthanising an animal when there is a chance of survival, rehabilitation and adoption. Unfortunately, Louie’s case confronts us with the fact that despite our best efforts, sometimes the extent of the abuse is just too extreme, and we must make a heart-breaking decision for the greater good of the animal.

“We appreciate that the list can be deeply distressing, but this shows the harsh reality of what our resilient SPCA Inspectors go through every day. We need to detail these cases to raise awareness of the devastating animal abuse we continue to see in New Zealand,” says Midgen.

SPCA work incredibly hard to protect the nation’s most vulnerable animals, but it is only possible for the charity to continue its fight for justice, on behalf of these animals, with the ongoing public support.

You can get involved in this year’s SPCA Annual Appeal by donating to street collectors across the country from Monday 1st - Sunday 7th March, or online at www.spca.nz/news-and-events/event/spca-annual-street-appeal

SPCA List of Shame

The List of Shame shines a spotlight on the very worst cases of animal cruelty that SPCA have investigated and prosecuted in the last year. 2020 saw many cases of intense neglect and abuse towards animals across New Zealand.

1. Severely injured and barely alive:

1. Severely injured and barely alive:

Almost unrecognisable as a dog, Louie was rescued by SPCA Inspectors after being found in a terrible condition. He was ridden with fleas, and the skin on his leg had almost been degloved from elbow to paw due to the severe matting. Louie’s teeth were rotten and exposed outside his mouth and he was dribbling pus and smelt like rotting flesh. SPCA vets carried out multiple surgeries to treat Louie and he made an incredible transformation in SPCA’s care. Unfortunately, seven weeks later, despite several surgeries, including the removal of all of his teeth, Louie started having severe seizures which affected his ability to heal from his injuries, and the heartbreaking decision was made to end his suffering. SPCA Inspectors successfully prosecuted Louie’s previous owner and they were disqualified from owning animals for five years.

2. ​Sheep and horses left to rot:

2. ​Sheep and horses left to rot:

A mob of 43 sheep were discovered by SPCA Inspectors in faeces-covered paddocks with no grazing available, severely matted wool, fly strike with wool loss, peeling skin, and inflammation with maggots visible.

A number of horses were also found in varying states of neglect; emaciated, open wounds, gum disease, very long hooves and clearly in a lot of pain. A 20-year old gelding was at least 50 kilograms underweight and had an infestation of parasites, long feet and gum ulcers.

Another horse was found with significant dental issues and weighed 100kg less than a normal weight The animal’s owner was sentenced to 150 hours’ community work and ordered to pay SPCA $15,000 in reparations. The owner was also disqualified from owning stock animals, with the exception of two, for 10 years.

3. Emaciated beyond

3. Emaciated beyond

When an SPCA Inspector saw Girl, she was extremely thin, tethered to a kennel and curled into a ball, unwilling to stand. A vet found she weighed just 9.5kg and was emaciated with pressure sores over her hip bones, not bearing weight on her right hind leg and the lymph node behind her right knee was enlarged. She also had an infection in three of her toes. She was also anaemic, likely due to worms in her intestines. The vet was concerned she may not survive. Girl was hospitalised and put on an IV drip, vitamin medication, and iron supplements. Under SPCA’s care, she recovered and was rehomed. The defendant was sentenced to 80 hours’ community work, ordered to pay to SPCA a $400 fine and $130 court costs. He was also disqualified from owning dogs for 5 years.

4. Suffering and left in unimaginable pain

4. Suffering and left in unimaginable pain

Five cats came into SPCA’s care after Inspectors received reports of a strong stench coming from a property in Auckland. Inspectors found multiple long haired Persian cats in various states of neglect. All of the felines had awfully matted fur and were suffering from severe cases of conjunctivitis. Some of the cats could not open their eyes as they were crusted shut with infection. They all had urine scalding and faecal staining with large lumps of faeces matted on their rear ends. Some had claws that had curled round and penetrated their pads. The cats had not been taken for veterinary treatment. SPCA vet nurses spent a number of hours removing the cats’ matted fur before they underwent vet treatment. Unfortunately, due to the severity of their condition, the cats were humanely euthanised to end their suffering. The owners were given a written warning.

5. Sickening squalor sees rabbits in dire condition

5. Sickening squalor sees rabbits in dire condition

SPCA Inspectors discovered four rabbits and three felines living on a property in poor conditions. One was underweight and housed in an undersized hutch. He couldn’t stand or take more than two hops and there was a significant build-up of faeces and urine and no water or food. A second rabbit was found in another small hutch close by and in the back section of the hutch was a deceased rabbit. A fourth rabbit was loose on the property and couldn’t be captured. The rabbits in hutches were taken into care. The vet stated the second rabbit was emaciated, dehydrated and her stomach was empty. She also had a respiratory condition. She died in the vet clinic and a post mortem revealed she had zero body fat. The first rabbit was also in poor body condition and ate ravenously when given food. It was able to be successfully rehomed. The SPCA Inspector returned to the property and the remaining rabbit, two kittens and a cat were surrendered to SPCA.

6. Starved, chained dog found deceased

6. Starved, chained dog found deceased

A brindle crossbreed dog was discovered dead, chained to a wooden kennel in the corner of a backyard. He appeared to be extremely thin, his hips, ribs and spine were all sharp and clearly visible. A vet concluded he was emaciated and had hookworm eggs in his faeces, and the black faeces stuck to his rectum contained digested blood. There is no doubt he would have experienced severe stress and suffering. The vet concluded that the combination of starvation and the suspected gastric ulceration and blood loss would have caused severe discomfort.

The dog’s owner was found guilty and sentenced to nine months’ supervision, disqualified from owning dogs for five years, and ordered to pay $740 reparations.

7. The innocent victims of fireworks

7. The innocent victims of fireworks

An SPCA field officer received a job while on late shift last November regarding a mother duck and her two ducklings. The mallard duck had sustained severe injuries to her eyes, head and beak. The injuries were suspected to have come as the result of burns from fireworks. All three ducks were collected immediately and transported to an afterhours vet. The vet stated the duck had suffered third degree burns of the face, head and neck. Her beak was also fractured with a hole through both the bone and the beak exposing the tongue. There was also mild bruising on her wing and body. She was humanely euthanised. Her ducklings were taken to bird rescue, unharmed.

8. Dog beaten mercilessly

8. Dog beaten mercilessly

A Canterbury man was captured on video beating his dog with a plank of wood. The dog, a bull mastiff, suffered bruising and internal injuries as well as significant distress. SPCA Inspectors executed a search warrant, seized Bolo, a plank of wood with blood on it, and a large splinter of wood. Bolo had an unmistakable shoulder injury, a bleeding wound on his face and a puncture wound on his lip which needed sutures. Blood tests showed Bolo suffered a tremendous amount of muscle damage at the time of the trauma. The vet concluded the wounds on Bolo’s head and mouth would have been extremely painful due to the large number of nerves there. Bolo’s size and robust bone structure, being a giant breed dog, likely protected him from more serious injuries. The man was sentenced to 150 hours’ community work, a $1,500 fine and disqualified from owning dogs for three years.

9. Deliberately drowned puppies, bound with tape

9. Deliberately drowned puppies, bound with tape

Three male black and white puppies approximately 15 weeks old were discovered drowned in a black and white duffle bag on the banks of the Waikato River near Waiuku. They were discovered by a family out for a walk. The puppies’ muzzles, front and back legs were bound tightly by black tape. A weight, thought to have come from a railway, was found in the side compartment, which was zipped closed. The tape and weight was sent for finger-print testing, but it is thought the bag was underwater for a significant amount of time. Despite public calls for information, no-one has yet been identified. None of the puppies were microchipped.

10. The scourge of mange

10. The scourge of mange

Both Buddy and Gino came into SPCA’s care in a shocking condition. Buddy was found abandoned in Whangarei with head abrasions and his body and legs covered in mange. Gino was covered in such a severe case of mange that his legs and face were swollen, red and raw. It was one of the worst cases of mange the SPCA team in Taupo had ever seen. Mange is a treatable skin disease caused by parasitic mites and if left untreated can cause debilitating and painful symptoms; redness, rash and itching, hair loss, sores and lesions, scabby, crusty or scaly skin. After months of extensive rehabilitation and care, both Buddy and Gino healed both physically and mentally and are now living their best life with their new families.

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