Prevent cruelty & educate
The SPCA believes that engaging, educating and building relationships with our communities is key to improving animal welfare in New Zealand. Like you, we want everyone to know how to look after their animals and give them the love and respect they deserve.
With your support, we help prevent cruelty to animals in a number of ways:
Through education resources for children and adults; by helping owners to desex their animals; through our work with offenders and at-risk communities and by engaging with government and industry to advocate for changes that improve animal welfare.
SPCA’s Kids Education Portal
The SPCA’s Kids Education Portal is a unique online education resource. The portal has been designed to support children’s learning about animal welfare and responsibility towards animals, whilst developing children’s respect, understanding and compassion for all living creatures.
Learn-to-Read story books
Our twelve Learn-to-Read story books help Kiwi kids to both improve their reading skills and learn to care for and respect animals.
The books cater to different ages and reading levels. Each story is based on a real-life animal rescue from the SPCA, and contains messages about animal care, animal welfare, and tips for families on how to be responsible pet owners.
To spread the message to as many children as we can, all 2,127 primary and intermediate schools in New Zealand have received six copies of each book completely free, thanks to help from SPCA supporters.
Our Teachers’ Portal is designed for primary and intermediate school teachers. The portal provides innovative resources on animal welfare that are aligned with the New Zealand Curriculum and fit easily into their every-day teaching.
We don’t just educate children on how to care for and treat animals; we also publish our quarterly Animals’ Voice Magazine, provide animal care booklets to all our adopters, and online resources and opinion pieces on animal care and welfare for everyone to access.
Community Engagement and Outreach programmes
We are fortunate to have dedicated community engagement staff at some of our centres across the country. These teams are available to host groups at selected SPCA centres and are also happy to venture off-site – visiting schools and community groups to talk about our work and inspire students to effect positive change in the lives of animals. See if there are visits available in your area.
We also offer Outreach Therapy Pet visits to rest homes, hospitals and other health services in Auckland, Tauranga, Wellington and Dunedin to bring comfort and joy to residents and patients.
SPCA Inspectors, field officers and community vet nurses
The SPCA has a team of 77 Animal Welfare Inspectors who respond to allegations of animal cruelty and neglect and have the legal power to remove animals from their owners. These Inspectors are appointed by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) to enforce the Animal Welfare Act 1999.
Last year our Inspectors investigated over 15,000 incidents relating to animal cruelty and neglect. Educating owners about their responsibilities plays a large part in resolving these incidents and improving the wellbeing of neglected animals.
Some of our centres also have additional frontline staff such as community vet nurses and field officers who help out with low-level welfare cases. They help with rescues but also educate people on the basics of how to treat and care for animals, as well as assisting them to break the cycle of animal neglect.
Focusing on at-risk communities
Animal cruelty has been closely linked to family violence and child abuse. Many young children unintentionally harm animals and it only takes one adult to teach them kindness and respect for the animals they meet. Yet, a child who repeatedly hurts an animal requires the support of their parents or caregivers and an experienced professional. There are several reasons that cause child animal cruelty, including learning difficulties, problems understanding how others feel or think, anxiety, bullying, copying the adult behaviours and family violence. So, it is important that the nature of the animal cruelty and the possible cause is identified early to support child development and safety.
The SPCA is working with the Ministry for Children, the New Zealand Police and Women’s Refuge to develop interagency strategies that aim to keep children safe and reduce family harm. The SPCA has developed resources for professionals to support the identification of animal cruelty as an early sign of family violence and to support children who witness animal cruelty or who may act with cruelty to animals.
Each year thousands of unwanted kittens and puppies are brought to the SPCA. They’re found wandering the streets as strays or surrendered when owners don’t want them anymore.
On average over 3700 animals come into SPCA care every month. This puts huge pressure on services such as the Inspectorate team and our animal teams. But it is more than just an SPCA problem – it’s a community problem.
Desexing and responsible ownership are the only way to address the cause of unwanted animals being born, abused and neglected. By stopping unwanted births of kittens and puppies, we can prevent the SPCA from being the ‘ambulance at the bottom of the cliff’.
To combat this, we have invested in a focussed desexing strategy to really make an impact. We combine short-term desexing campaigns in our communities with long-term education and attitudinal change programmes for the best outcome.
Campaigning and advocating for animals
Behind the scenes, we work with ministers, government officials and industry to advocate for incremental changes that improve animal welfare.
Publicly we campaign on a wide range of animal welfare issues, from seeking bans on rodeos, leg hold traps and the private sale and use of fireworks, to opposing Breed Specific Legislation (BSL).