Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month
April is Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month, so we want to take this opportunity to share more about our preventative initiatives, and how we’re working hard to achieve better outcomes for animals across New Zealand.
SPCA stands for the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals - preventing the mistreatment of animals is at the very core of what we do.
Here at SPCA, we believe that prevention is absolutely critical in breaking the cycle of animal abuse and neglect in Aotearoa.
There are four key areas of our work which put prevention at their very core. All of these play an important role in creating meaningful, long-term change which will improve animal welfare in this country for years to come.
SPCA Education Programme
SPCA’s extensive, free-to-use Education Programme was created to nurture the young hearts and minds in our communities. This programme was developed to secure a better future for New Zealand’s animals by working with the animal guardians of tomorrow.
By teaching key lessons in responsibility and positive animal welfare, our Education Programme hopes to make an impact for the countless animals Kiwi kids will encounter throughout their lives.
Entirely free, the programme includes material for tamariki, but also teachers, ECE educators, whānau and others working with children. Just some of the exciting elements of this ever-growing programme are:
- Kids’ Portal – filled with fun, informative and inspiring information including animal care videos, termly newsletters, learning booklets, craft activities, competitions and more. Speaking directly to tamariki, our Kids’ Portal builds on children’s innate curiousty about and empathy for living creatues, and turns this into important lessons in a fun way.
- Teachers’ Portal – a hub of curriculum-aligned resources to help educators weave animal welfare teachings into their lessons. Made by teachers, for teachers, this is a one-stop-shop for anyone wanting to use animal content as a context for learning.
- ECE Portal – with content and resourced created specifically for early childhood educators working with the youngest minds!
- Learn-to-Read Storybooks – each book from these sets of inspiring animal stories contains a key message about animal welfare, and encourages kids to think about how they can become a responsible animal guardian. Available in five languages, with the English versions being provided free to every primary school in the country, whānau and educators can also purchase these books directly online.
Read more about the various exciting parts of our education work over at www.spca.nz/education and help us nurture the hearts and minds of tomorrow’s animal owners.
Thousands of unwanted kittens and puppies come into the care of SPCA every year. Whether they’re found as abandoned litters, picked up wandering the streets as lonely strays, or simply surrendered by owners who can’t care for them, it’s heartbreaking to see the constant flow of these innocent animals through the doors of our Centres.
By preventing these unwanted animals from being born through desexing, we know we can have a lasting impact by reducing the numbers of animals that ultimately end up living lives of neglect.
We have various desexing initiatives underway.
- Snip ‘n’ Chip campaigns - these run throughout the year and around the country where need for community support with desexing pets is highest. These enable SPCA to remove the cost barrier which prevents so many from desexing their pets, helping control the number of unwanted litters born into our communities.
- Mobile desexing - many pet owners that live in rural areas struggle to get veterinary care, whether due to sheer distance, access and transport issues, cost, or all of the above. By offering mobile desexing with our Desexing Caravan, we know we’re able to help these isolated communities struggling with the disproportionately high number of stray and un-neutered animals.
- The SPCA Desexing Grant - the overpopulation crisis is not only affecting the work undertaken by SPCA, but various other amazing rescue organisations around New Zealand. Tackling this crisis requires a mammoth team effort, which is why we introduced the Desexing Grant. We’re stronger when we work together, and this grant can provide meaningful impact to other animal rescue organisations that are faced with the often overwhelming financial burden of desexing.
- Hokianga partnership - by working together with Kerikeri Highway Vets in Hokianga, SPCA has been able to help with funding the desexing and microchipping of cats and dogs in this critically under-served area. It’s heartwarming to see different organisations working towards the same goal, with Kerikeri Highway Vets carrying out the procedures, and other local rescue groups and volunteers assisting with transportation. This effort is substantially reducing the number of unwanted animals in this region.
We know that the rising costs of living have hit our communities hard, and the desexing of pets often falls to the bottom of the priority list for many families. We’re sometimes able to assist members of the public who need a helping hand with desexing options and have nowhere else to turn.
Working with communities
Our SPCA Inspectors and Field Officers are the animal lovers working on the frontline, responding to and investigating instances of animal cruelty and neglect.
Often faced with very difficult and sometimes confronting situations, we know their roles are extremely challenging – but we couldn’t help such large numbers of animals every year without their dedication.
They work hard to educate animal owners on best practice, improve welfare conditions for animals, and in extreme cases, removing animals from properties and taking them into the care of SPCA.
Last year our Inspectors investigated over 13,000 incidents relating to cruelty or neglect. We’re pleased that for many incidents, Inspectors are able to educate owners about their responsibilities as pet owners, playing a large role in preventing future incidents from occurring.
While Inspectors have the power to remove animals from dangerous situations and environments when the animal’s welfare is at risk, many members of the public don’t realise that SPCA Inspectors don’t make the law – they can only enforce the law. It can be devastating for our Inspectors to have to walk away from an animal in less-than-ideal conditions, when they aren’t legally allowed to act.
This is one of the reasons we’re equally committed to our advocacy work.
In order to achieve better outcomes for animals in New Zealand, SPCA is constantly working behind the scenes with ministers, Government officials and industry to advocate for changes that improve animal welfare.
Changes to the law don’t happen overnight, and we’ll continue to work tirelessly to influence the decision-makers who have the ability to create lasting positive change and prevent future animal cruelty in Aotearoa.
We campaign publicly on numerous animal welfare issues, and just some of these are detailed below.
- Chained dogs - Inspectors deal with the heartbreaking issue of prolonged tethering of dogs on a regular basis. There are thousands of innocent dogs in New Zealand who are subjected to long-term tethering, and the current laws make it very difficult for Inspectors to intervene.
While SPCA has raised this issue with MPI over a number of years, in 2022 we launched our ‘Break the Chain’ campaign. Over 20,000 New Zealanders joined us in emailing Government demanding a change to the existing laws, which would allow us to intervene sooner to help chained dogs.
- Greyhound racing - SPCA has long been calling for the banning of commercial greyhound racing in New Zealand. The welfare concerns for greyhounds both on and off the track are extensive, including physical distress and injuries during racing or training, lack of socialisation, poor nutrition, unregistered substances and illegal live baiting to name a few.
Last year, SPCA petitioned the public to help end greyhound racing in New Zealand, and a recommendation by Minister McAnulty to Cabinet is due soon.
- Live export - for decades SPCA has been advocating for a ban on all live export of farmed animals. Since 1985, SPCA has been working behind the scenes to help make this happen. With the help of the public and with many years of dedicated work, New Zealand has ended the live export of cattle, sheep, goats and deer by sea, taking effect from 30 April this year.
Our advocacy work is extensive and continuous. For the team at SPCA, the fight to improve the lives of animals is ongoing, and we won’t stop while animals are still suffering abuse or neglect in New Zealand.
To learn more about our advocacy work in the prevention of animal cruelty, you can visit the advocacy page of our website.