SPCA New Zealand

Spring signals fresh vulnerabilities for animals far and wide

29 August 2022

As the end of winter draws near, animal breeding seasons are getting underway around the country. Their arrival is accompanied by a host of welfare risks to both mothers and their offspring who can be born into a life of neglect. Read on for some stories of animals of various species being born into high-risk situations up and down New Zealand.

Spring signals fresh vulnerabilities for animals far and wide

First lamb of the season at SPCA Christchurch

One day old, three kilograms, and already injured and alone. Despite what it may seem, Ed, a little lamb currently under the care of SPCA Christchurch, did have some luck on his side from the beginning, though – he was spotted by a member of the public.

Between being so young, without his mum, and limping on an injured leg, Ed was in an incredibly vulnerable state. The individual who spotted him from a public walking track was unable to locate his mother anywhere near the newborn lamb. She hurried Ed to an afterhours vet clinic, before SPCA collected him the very next day.

Ed is the first lamb we have seen into our care this spring, but will certainly not be the last. Every year, lambs wind up at risk for a number of reasons from their owners not being around when they are born, not getting the care they need early on, or dogs not being leashed around lambing areas. SPCA urges owners of lifestyle blocks with sheep, or those living in the vicinity of areas where lambs are born to take extra caution as we head into lambing season this spring.

First kittens of the season at SPCA Auckland

Tiny, soaking wet, shivering and all alone. That’s how the story starts for three newborn ginger kittens who are SPCA Auckland’s first arrivals of a fresh kitten season. The trio was lucky to be found when they were. Despite their still-attached umbilical cords suggesting that had only just been born, their mother was nowhere to be found when a member of the public stumbled across them in South Auckland. Desperate to get them the help they needed, the kittens were rushed right into the nearby SPCA Centre.

At only a day old without mum, their condition was dire. The greatest threat was low body temperatures, which can spell disaster at this age. The immediate focus was on getting the kittens warm before the team set to syringe-feeding the three hungry newborns. All three are now in the safe hands of an invaluable SPCA foster parent, who will care for the kittens as they grow and gain strength.

As kitten season gets started all over again, stories like this will become ever more frequent in the coming months. Every year, we’re faced with the tragic reality that results from a lack of deseing of both companion and stray cats. This unwanted litter will be the first of many for SPCA Auckland.

Desexing is a vital part of breaking the cycle of neglect and preventing these unwanted litters. With continued education and the implementation of SPCA’s two-year focused desexing campaign, we’re hopeful that these stories of neglect won’t be so commonplace in the future. Until then, we’re so glad these three got to us just in the nick of time, and will go on to have happy, healthy futures.

Newborn and all alone: Bambi the puppy in SPCA Wellington

Bambi the puppy was absolutely tiny when our team first met her. At just one week old, her little eyes had yet to open up to the world when she came into the care of our Wellington Centre. Puppies, like many animals, rely heavily on not just their mothers but their litter mates to keep them safe and warm at such a young age as she was – their bodies are too small and weak to survive on their own. With no family in sight Bambi was at serious risk.

Until we met her, she had been surviving on pet milk alone – a treat for adult cats which lacks the proper nutrients puppies need. As a result, she was badly dehydrated. The team wasted no time in getting her cold little body into the incubator with plenty of blankets to try and warm her up. Luckily, she got to us just in time.

Bambi is now gaining her strength with one of our wonderful foster parents, where she receives round-the-clock care. Still just a baby, she requires regular bottle feeding, and lots of soft blankets to keep her little body warm. While puppies can be born year-round, being born during the cold month of August, and all alone so young, we are so grateful Bambi came to us just in time. Even more so, we are so happy that when the time comes, we will be able to secure a bright future for this deserving young pup, who we have no doubt will make someone a canine companion for life!

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