Where are our abandoned animals now?
Every year thousands of animals in need end up in SPCA’s care needing love, comfort, and a second chance at happiness. We share the stories of the abandoned animals who ended up at SPCA’s door with no home and hope, who defied the odds and found their happy ever after.
Dogs abandoned and roaming the streets, kittens left in a bag on the side of the road, puppies taped in a box and left on a doorstep on a cold night... these are many of the abandonment cases that SPCA deals with.
Over 41,000 injured, neglected and abandoned animals come through SPCA’s doors each year. While we can’t provide an accurate picture on how many of these animals were abandoned, we can say for sure that it is a widespread problem across New Zealand.
Despite abandoning an animal being an offence under the Animal Welfare Act 1999, SPCA CEO Andrea Midgen says many animals arrive at SPCA centres after being dumped by their families.
“It’s awful for the animal of course, but it’s also awful that people see abandoning an animal as the only option available for them,” Ms Midgen says.
“At SPCA we understand that circumstances can change for pet owners, and that unwanted litters can force people into a situation where they genuinely can’t care for their animals anymore. We want Kiwis to know that there is always another option, and people who can help.”
“You don’t need to abandon an animal.”
Left by a train station
Boots was one of those animals. Found by a train station, she was covered head-to-toe in dirt, her skin crawling with fleas. Her eyes were so full of discharge she could barely see.
A kind person found her and brought her straight to SPCA where she was immediately wrapped in blankets and put in an incubator to recover. Boots was so sick and weak, she barely had the energy to lift her head or her paw. The only movement SPCA vets could see was the slow rise and fall of her tummy as she breathed.
With days of round-the-clock care by our veterinary team, and months in specialised foster care, Boots transformed into a completely different kitten. Soon enough, she was climbing up the curtains and playing on the furniture. Originally arriving at SPCA with no strength to move, Boots now loves to play and has endless amounts of energy to burn.
Boots was recently adopted and is now loving snuggling up to her new family every day.
Dumped in a barrel
When four puppies were dumped in a black plastic barrel in a quiet picnic area, it was sheer luck they were found. A member of public heard the whimpering cries of Mitch, Rex, Lynx and Nelly, and brought them straight to SPCA.
Their fur was brown because they were covered head-to-toe in faeces, vomit and urine.
The SPCA team took them in, cleaned them, kept them warm, and gave them their first meal. The first time our team placed a food bowl on the floor, the puppies shied away, terrified.
Fortunately, with specialist care in a matter of weeks they were completely different puppies. They bounded with happiness across their play area and jumped up as people approached in search of cuddles and affection. Once whimpering in fear, today you’re much more likely to see them now rough and tumbling with each other.
It didn’t take long for them to find their forever homes. One by one, families walked through the SPCA adoption area and fell in love with Mitch, Rex, Lynx and Nelly. After their hardship, these puppies are now living a life of love and happiness.
Lovely little Rex is now called Emmy and is loving life! Her mum spotted her story on SPCA's Facebook page and couldn't resist taking her home. She says: "Emmy has come into our home and fitted in really easily. She is very sweet, happy, inquisitive and playful. Her big sister Daisy is also a rescue dog and the two have started to bond really well.”
Thrown from a car
Brighton the kitten’s story shocked even our most experienced Inspectors. He was taped into a cardboard box and then thrown out of a car window while the car was moving.
A member of the public who was driving close by thought this looked suspicious, so pulled over. Not knowing what was inside, they opened the box up and to their great surprise found a tiny little kitten - Brighton.
Brighton was scared and shaking from this terrible event, and clearly very sick. Fortunately, the finders brought him straight to the nearest SPCA to see a vet immediately. Brighton was suffering from severe cat flu and was extremely distressed and sore from his horrific ordeal. At such a young age he had already endured so much.
“SPCA Inspectors launched a full investigation to find the person responsible for this act of cruelty,” Andrea says.
“The team worked with Police to test fingerprints on the box he was found in. Unfortunately, the results were inconclusive and the person/s responsible was never found.”
After months in SPCA’s care, Brighton is now doing so well. He was adopted by his foster parent Haylie and renamed Taz. He spends every day playing with his human sister Ella-Rose now.
“He is such a lovely kitten and has really fitted into our family!” says Haylie.
Abandoned on a property
After responding to reports of an abandoned dog living on a vacant section, an SPCA Inspector not only found the dog, but he also found her litter of seven four-week-old puppies.
The puppies were living under a sheet of iron, surrounded by bush. Their mum Alice had done her best to keep them safe and warm, but with the nights getting colder the puppies needed to find a proper shelter, fast. The SPCA Inspector brought them into an SPCA centre where they had blankets, vet treatment, love and warmth.
After weeks in foster care, the 'spice pups’ - Cinnamon, Rosemary, Saffron, Juniper, Nutmeg, Pepper, and Basil - came back to SPCA to find their forever home. Seven families each walked through SPCA’s doors and signed the adoption papers, making them a new member of their family.
Now Saffron and her siblings rough start to life is a distant memory and they are each living their much-deserved happy ever.
Amelia adopted Saffron and says she is so glad she is now a part of their family. She has since been renamed Skye and spends every day hanging out with her big brother Walt.
“I bought Skye into my work yesterday and did the rounds with her. It was a huge boost to staff morale and everyone loved her! Over the past two days, as I was taking Walt for his walk, I also took Skye - she was loving it and taking in all the new smells and kept watching what Walt was up to.”
Breaking the cycle
While the SPCA team is thrilled that the stories of Boots, ‘the barrel puppies’, Brighton and the spice puppies all have a happy ever after, it’s sadly not always the case for abandoned animals.
“An abandoned animal is so vulnerable,” says Andrea.
“A life on the streets can be full of suffering. Without a family to care for them, they could pick up illness, get seriously injured or succumb to the elements. Sometimes the sad reality of SPCA’s work is that these animals don’t come into our care until it’s too late.”
“So my message to our communities is: please, please don’t abandon animals in this way. SPCA is here to help you. Please come to us for advice – there is always another option than abandonment.”
Andrea says one of the key ways SPCA prevents future cases of animal abandonment is by desexing. When a family find themselves with an unwanted litter that they genuinely cannot care for, SPCA will do everything possible to both care for the litter and desex the mum – preventing the problem from happening again.
“We are so happy to give abandoned animals another chance at life and see them thriving in their new homes. But we need the community’s help to stop this cycle – desex your pets to prevent unwanted animals, and please come to SPCA for help if you need it.”
If you find an abandoned animal, please contact SPCA: www.spca.nz/report-animal-cruelty