SPCA New Zealand

Our role for the animals under the new Government

29 November 2023

With the new Government and ministerial portfolios now in place, SPCA's commitment to animals transcends politics and we’re ready to collaborate with the new leaders to promote and safeguard animal welfare.

Our role for the animals under the new Government

One of the key ways in which SPCA maintains our commitment to animals is by collaborating with governments at all levels. This collaboration involves working with officials, policymakers, and government bodies to develop and improve legislation related to animal welfare. By providing expertise, research, and evidence-based insights, SPCA helps shape policies that prioritise animal well-being.

SPCA aims to hold governments accountable for their actions related to animal welfare. By advocating for changes and involving our supporters, our organisation encourages transparency and responsible governance. What do we know about the incoming parties’ position on core animal welfare issues? We outline some key priorities for discussion below. We have already reached out to Prime Minister Luxon on a number of topics and have also advised him of the evidence behind these positions.

Greyhound racing

We were pleased to hear the incoming Prime Minister, Chris Luxon, express quick support for a ban on commercial greyhound racing in the final Leader’s Debate. The question now is when will this be implemented?

SPCA worked for years with the industry in an attempt to improve welfare outcomes for greyhounds and has concluded that the industry is unable or unwilling to address its significant welfare problems. It’s not just us – four reviews in the last decade have all found significant and ongoing problems. The only way to prevent the welfare harms inherent to commercial greyhound racing is to ban it, and we know 74% of New Zealanders would support that decision. No more chances – the time for a ban is now.

We will be contacting the Racing Minister, Winston Peters, as soon as possible to discuss the next steps and what any transition period may look like.

Read more on greyhound racing.

Pet bonds

The coalition agreement includes a policy to introduce “pet bonds” with the intention to make it easier to have pets in rentals. SPCA supports more pets in rentals, as we are concerned that many renters currently struggle to find accommodation that allows their pets, contributing to more pets relinquished to shelters in New Zealand. We applaud the goal of making it easier for responsible tenants to own pets.

We will work with the Government to ensure that the policy does effectively result in fewer barriers for responsible pet owners looking for rental homes – and will let you know if there are opportunities for you to have your say.

Live exports

The coalition agreement between the National Party, ACT and New Zealand First includes overturning the courageous and forward-thinking ban on livestock export by sea, which came into effect in April this year. SPCA considers this intended move to be absolutely shameful. To overturn the ban would throw away years of progress, disregard public sentiment, put our reputation at risk, and condemn hundreds of thousands of animals to suffering caused by long sea journeys. Live exports are a stain on our nation’s moral compass, and we must not allow this cruel practice to return.

SPCA, alongside so many animal advocates, worked tirelessly for decades for the ban - using the overwhelming evidence that shows that it cannot be done humanely, no matter what standards are in place. We know that New Zealanders, and overseas consumers and trade partners, are appalled by live exports. SPCA will stand alongside our supporters and other organisations to make this clear all over again – we will speak up for as long as it takes.

Read more on live exports.

Life-chaining of dogs

SPCA has been working with the Ministry for Primary Industries, alongside other animal rescues, on regulations to help address the practice of prolonged tethering of dogs. In September, we sent a letter co-signed by 15,000 of you to the Government in a plea to progress the crucial legislation that has already been drafted and publicly consulted. We will continue to press the Government for transparency and accountability in expediting the implementation of these vital regulations.

The New Zealand National Party stated, in response to our recent policy scorecard asking about this issue, that “A National government will work with operators such as SPCA to establish appropriate steps to resolving dog tethering issues.” We look forward to working with Andrew Hoggard, the Minister responsible for animal welfare, and will reach out to him before the end of the year.

Read more on chained dogs.

Mandatory desexing of cats

Every year, SPCA and independent animal rescues are flooded with unwanted and abandoned kittens and cats. New Zealand’s cat population also has an impact on our native species as well as animal and human health.Desexing is critical for improving companion animal welfare, and SPCA advocates for desexing legislation that puts cat welfare at the heart of the issue.

In response to a petition released in August 2023, the Environment Select Committee has recommended that legislation is developed to implement a nationwide cat management framework based on the principle that cats should be desexed and microchipped.

The New Zealand National Party stated, in response to our recent policy scorecard asking about this issue, that “In Government, we will explore what measures can be taken to reduce the impact of cats on native wildlife and supporting responsible pet ownership.” We look forward to working with them on this.

Read more on mandatory desexing of cats.

Reforming the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee

One of the new coalition policies is to reform the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee to ensure its functions, membership and mandate are appropriate.

SPCA has been concerned for some time about the process in place for secondary legislation under the Animal Welfare Act, which is partly overseen by this Committee. We also support the call for an independent Commissioner for Animals to ensure effective oversight of the animal welfare system.

We embrace any process that generates public scrutiny and discussion of the animal welfare system. SPCA will be engaging with our supporters and the Minister responsible for Animal Welfare, Andrew Hoggard, to ensure the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee effectively provides for the welfare of our animals.

As we stand on the cusp of a new government era, SPCA's dedication to the welfare of animals remains unwavering. By providing expertise, research, and evidence-based insights, we aim to shape policies that place the well-being of animals at the forefront.

Thank you for your ongoing support.

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