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The SPCA Desexing Caravan has wrapped up its latest adventure

17 November 2022

After more than nine weeks providing free desexing services to rural communities around the East Coast, the Caravan has completed its latest journey.

The SPCA Desexing Caravan has wrapped up its latest adventure

It’s been an extremely busy yet rewarding few months for everyone involved with the SPCA Desexing Caravan.

Since 22 August, the Caravan has been travelling around the rural East Coast communities, offering free desexing, vaccinations, microchips, and flea and worm treatments to cat and dog owners. The Caravan visited Ruatōria, Te Araroa, Waihau Bay, Te Kaha, Ōpōtiki, Tokomaru Bay and Tolaga Bay, and completed its journey in the final week of October.

These are critical locations for the Desexing Caravan as the small towns are extremely isolated, and locals can find it very difficult to access veterinary care. For some, the nearest vet clinic is nearly three hours’ drive away in Gisborne.

SPCA National Desexing Programme Manager Rebecca Dobson says that this region sees disproportionately high numbers of cats and dogs that haven’t been desexed.

“There are very high numbers of unwanted kittens and puppies on the East Coast, which is why we brought the Caravan to these communities. We were so pleased to be able to desex a large number of animals where the need is high, which will bring down the rates of unwanted litters,” Ms Dobson said.

Desexing is a key focus for SPCA, and the Caravan is just one part of the recently-launched two-year desexing campaign. This campaign aims to combat the overpopulation of companion animals in New Zealand by preventing more than 100,000 unwanted animals, through initiatives such as the Desexing Caravan, Snip ‘N’ Chip vouchers, community desexing, and the SPCA Desexing Grant, which is given to other rescue organisations to help with the cost of desexing.

Over the nine weeks that the Caravan was operating, the teams completed:

  • 378 desexing surgeries
  • 609 vaccinations
  • 471 microchips
  • 1239 flea/worm treatments

This important work was made possible by the SPCA vet staff who travelled from Wellington and Palmerston North, as well as the amazing external team from Ōpōtiki Veterinary Centre. Eastland Veterinary Services, CareVets Gisborne and VetEnt Gisborne also provided important after-hours support.

“We’re very grateful to all of the vet staff who put their time and efforts into making this initiative such a success, and for helping so many members of the community,” Ms Dobson said.

“With the current vet shortage, and limited funding to cover all costs, it makes campaigns like this a real challenge. But with help through donations, we hope to be able to continue offering services like these into the future, to help as many people and animals as possible.”

Grace Waters was just one member of the SPCA vet staff who travelled to the Caravan to offer her skills. Normally based in Wellington, Grace made the journey north and spent two weeks assisting with surgeries and treatments.

“I really enjoyed working with the local communities to help improve their pet’s quality of life, and prevent unwanted litters,” Grace said. “It’s such important work, and it’s been great to be a part of it.”

As well as teaming up with the external vet teams, the SPCA also received assistance from the Eastern District Police and the Bay of Plenty & Taupo Police, who moved the Caravan between locations. Without their help, we would not have been able to bring the desexing services to all of these locations.

It has been heartwarming to hear from members of these rural communities, and learn more about the impact the Caravan has had.

Sharon is one of the pet owners who was able to book in her dogs with the Caravan.

“Thank you so much for the fantastic friendly service. I was thrilled to be able to have my wee boys desexed, vaccinated, flea and worm treated, and even get their nails clipped. As a new dog owner living on the coast, this service is invaluable, as it’s so hard to be able to get to town,” Sharon said.

Paora was another pet owner, who was able to book in her cat for the important surgery.

“The SPCA Desexing Caravan offers an awesome service that’s otherwise not available to communities based on the East Coast. The nearest desexing service is in Gisborne, which for some ‘Coasties’ is a three-hour trip each way,” Paora said. “We’ve now had two cats desexed using the SPCA Caravan, and both times we were warmly welcomed and felt the care they gave our animals was awesome.”

We love to hear this feedback from these communities, and we know the positive impact from the Caravan will be widely felt. Thank you once again to all involved with this important project.

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