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SPCA NZ appalled at dog's treatment on movie set


This disturbing footage was just leaked from the set of an upcoming Hollywood movie, A Dog's Purpose.

It has horrified us all. The footage shows a German Shepherd being forced into turbulent water during the making of the film. Any animal lover watching this footage can see the dog is absolutely terrified.

Forcing an animal into this situation is absolutely appalling. Animals aren't movie props and should never be treated as such. In this instance, the water is aerated and not as buoyant as normal water. The film crew is incredibly lucky the dog didn't drown.

Here in New Zealand, the SPCA would like to see a Code of Welfare implemented for all animals in the film production industry to ensure they are treated humanely. No animal should ever suffer for ‘entertainment’ and this footage has proved to us that our Government needs to do more to ensure they are being cared for in the way they deserve.

Our policy in relation to the use of animals in film and television is:

SPCA NZ is opposed to the use, confinement or performance of wild or exotic animals for commercial gain and/or human entertainment. The use of domesticated animals for filming is only acceptable if the activity required is not contrary to the animals’ nature, does not cause or permit their suffering or otherwise adversely affect their welfare.

The Society believes that, wherever animals are used in the making of films, advertisements or television programmes, or in the theatre, they must not be caused any suffering nor be portrayed in a manner demeaning to their species. Our organisation does not believe that any animal should be used for live entertainment, whereby its needs are unlikely to be able to be put before those of the production and the audience, and the circumstances of its captivity and the presence of an audience are likely to cause distress or harm.

The Society welcomes the increasing technological advances which make redundant the requirement to use most animals in the creation of film and television productions. Due to the capabilities of computer generation and motion capture, SPCA NZ would question many situations in which it is claimed that live animals need to be used in media productions. The welfare of any animal, especially wild and exotic species, should never be compromised for the sake of entertainment.

Important food safety tips for pet owners at Christmas

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The SPCA and Nestlé Purina are reminding pet owners to be extra vigilant about what their pets eat over the Festive season.

It may be unknown that common treats and snacks we humans enjoy as part of our holiday celebration including avocado, macadamia nuts, ham, grapes and raisins can cause internal damage and in serious cases lead to death.

Dr Shalsee Vigeant, SPCA Veterinary Manager is urging pet owners to not share human food and to think twice about leaving food in places that might be easily accessible to pets.

“It’s important to know that ignoring your pet’s pleading faces and smooches is actually in their best interest. Dogs and cats digest and metabolise food differently to humans so what might be perfectly fine for us can be poisonous to them.”

“We have a very simple rule in our house.  Only food specially formulated with the right blend of nutrients is given to our pets and we remind visitors of this when they arrive,” says Dr Vigeant.

Even pet owners who are careful about what they feed their pet need to be aware about the places their pet might find a feast. Handbags, gifts under the tree, food left on tables and in rubbish bags are common places where pets will often steal foods that can make them sick. 

Jessie Gilchrist, who works at SPCA Auckland will be keeping her dog Cody well away from any human food this year.  Last Christmas Cody was hospitalised for 48 hours and on an IV after stealing and indulging in her family's fruit cake. 

“Most people know that chocolate is dangerous for dogs, but there are actually an array of popular festive ingredients that your pet’s bodies are simply not designed to eat. Pets can get into food they're not supposed to eat very quickly, so we have to be extra vigilant at this time of year," says Jessie.

Although Christmas is the season of giving, there are plenty of other ways to spoil your pets.

 “At the SPCA we take Purina One pet food and freeze it or put it into toys so they can gradually extract the food. A walk or games in the garden after a big meal is also a great way to make sure your pet gets the attention they need and to fight your own after-meal lethargy,” says Dr Vigeant.

Please remember: if you think your pet has eaten something dangerous you should immediately call your local vet clinic. 

Ten Foods Unsafe for Pets

  1. Fruit cake or Christmas pudding as the raisins (and grapes) are deadly to cats and dogs. They are toxic to their kidneys and can cause lethargy, excessive thirst, vomiting and in serious cases can be fatal.
  2. Alcohol and coffee are both toxic for dogs.
  3. Avocados contain persin causing vomiting, diarrhoea and heart congestion in dogs.
  4. For cats and dogs, chocolate can cause elevated heart rate, seizures, vomiting and diarrhoea.
  5. Macadamia nuts contain a toxin that can inhibit movement and cause panting, weakness and swollen limbs.
  6. Onions and chives contain disulphides and sulfoxides, which can cause anaemia and damage red blood cells.
  7. Peaches, plums and persimmons and apple pips contain a substance that degrades to cyanide.
  8. Xylitol - a common ingredient in sugarless treats and sugarless gum is dangerous.
  9. Sweet-corn cobs can cause blockages in the small intestine that may need to be removed surgically. Don't let your dog chew on the cob.
  10. Turkey skin, pork crackling, sausages and fatty meats not only add extra calories but can lead to intense pain due to pancreatitis.

Gisborne man jailed after bashing his dog in the head with a hammer and leaving her to die


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A Gisborne man appeared in the Gisborne District Court yesterday accused of bashing his dog in the head three times with a club hammer and then leaving her to die in agony.

James Tuari, 48, pleaded guilty to a charge of wilful ill-treatment of an animal with the result that the pain or distress caused to the animal was so great that it was necessary to destroy the animal in order to end its suffering. He was sentenced to 9 months in prison, disqualified from owning dogs for 10 years, and ordered to pay reparations of $125.30.

The story began on 11 January 2016 when two Animal Control Officers and an SPCA Inspector attended the defendant’s property in Gisborne, following a complaint to the Gisborne District Council about an injured dog.

They found Brownie, a young adult dog, tied up in a small area by the side of the garage. The ground was strewn with rubbish and rags, and there was a blue plastic container containing a small amount of stagnant green water. There was blood on the walls close to where Brownie was tied up.

Brownie was in very thin body condition and had two obvious wounds on the top of her head. Both wounds were full of maggots, indicating that they were not fresh.

The SPCA Inspector took possession of the dog and transported her for an urgent veterinary examination, which revealed that Brownie had two, large holes measuring approximately 50mm by 50mm in her head. One of the holes opened into the cranial vault (the very thin piece of bone covering the back portion of the brain). Both holes contained fly eggs and maggots, which were approximately 0.5cm to 1.0cm long, indicating the wounds were two or three days old.

Brownie was also severely emaciated and extremely dehydrated, and faecal testing revealed she had an extremely high parasite burden.

The veterinarian recommended euthanasia because her prognosis was ‘hopeless’, and because her pain and distress was so great it was necessary to end her suffering. She went on to say that this was one of the most severe and disturbing cases she had seen because the dog had been subjected to two forceful blows to the head, and then been left without clinical treatment for at least two days.

When interviewed the defendant said that he had been told by his brother and a family member to ‘get rid of the dog’. So on 9 January he had hit her on the head three times with a club hammer and she had ‘gone down’. The defendant’s neighbours had heard what he was doing and leant over the fence, at which point the dog had ‘come to’. Even though he knew she was still alive, the defendant left her to die by herself.

“This is sickening cruelty involving extreme violence against a defenceless animal inflicted by someone with complete disregard for the suffering he has caused. It would have to be one of the most disturbing cases of animal cruelty we have seen in 2016,” says Andrea Midgen, SPCA New Zealand CEO (Acting).

“Brownie’s suffering was completely unnecessary. When you have the privilege of owning an animal, it is your responsibility to care for them for their whole life – not just when it suits you. If the defendant could no longer have her at his house, he should have tried to find Brownie a new home. He could have asked his local SPCA for help or advice. There were several steps he could have taken and the fact he jumped immediately to beating her to death is unfathomable.”

The SPCA urges people to check before giving pets as presents

Surprising your loved one with a pet at Christmas may seem like a good idea, but it doesn’t always end well for the animal. Every January, animal shelters deal with abandoned pets that are unwanted Christmas presents, as many new owners find they aren’t prepared for the commitment that comes with responsible pet ownership.

The SPCA, together with their proud sponsor, Southern Cross Pet Insurance, are calling for New Zealanders to stop giving pets as Christmas gifts, without checking with the recipient first.

SPCA New Zealand CEO Andrea Midgen says: “Pets require time, money, care and lots of love, and animal owners need to be fully committed to this for the animal’s whole life. If you have had a conversation with the recipient and they are ready to take on this responsibility, then adopting a pet from the SPCA is a great way to go.

“Adopting from the SPCA means your pet will be healthy and behaviour tested, along with being desexed and microchipped. But, most importantly, our team will be able to match your family to the perfect pet for your needs and lifestyle.”

Southern Cross Pet Insurance head Anthony McPhail says pets bring joy to their owners’ lives, but it’s easy to underestimate what’s involved with looking after a pet.

“A surprise puppy or kitten might seem like a good gift idea, but owners need to be prepared to look after pets for the whole animal’s life.

“We know one third of pet owners find it hard to care for their pets and struggle to pay vet bills.

“Our research shows more than half of New Zealand pet owners could not afford to spend more than $1,000 caring for a sick or injured animal, whereas we know it’s very common for vet bills to exceed $1,000 – and that’s not factoring in the rest of the costs that come with responsible pet ownership.

“The cost of pet ownership goes beyond just vet bills and extends to paying for food, de-sexing, dog registration, and ideally pet insurance, through to bedding, toys, shelter, and grooming expenses.”

Ms Midgen does point out that if people have done their homework and understand the responsibility that comes with pet ownership, adopting over the new year period is an ideal time.  

“Summer is the perfect time to add a furry friend to your home, as people typically have more time to spend with them, can help them settle into their new environment, and get used to a daily routine,” says Ms Midgen.

For those looking to adopt a pet from the SPCA this summer, Southern Cross Pet Insurance offers free puppy and kitten cover to pets between 6 and 20 weeks of age on claims up to $1,500 worth of vet tests and treatment. All pets from the SPCA are health and temperament checked, desexed, microchipped and vaccinated.

SPCA no longer banned from rehoming ‘classified’ dogs after changes to national action plan


muffin 3 MC headerThe second tranche of proposals as part of the national action plan for dogs in New Zealand has been announced this morning, and the SPCA is pleased it will no longer be prohibited from re-homing dogs based on the visual assessment of breed.

Instead, dogs classified under the Dog Control Act 1999 as menacing can be rehomed to people with a ‘high-risk dog owner license’. This change will save the lives of thousands of dogs, however there are still areas of concern in the national action plan that need to be addressed.

The SPCA has been campaigning against the strengthened breed-specific legislation included in the Government’s national action plan for dogs. The proposed law would have seen animal shelters like as the SPCA banned from rehoming dogs purely based on how they look. This would have led to thousands of healthy dogs being euthanised.

The SPCA’s petition against breed-specific legislation and for a change in this proposed law gained almost 60,000 signatures and widespread support from the New Zealand public.

“We’re really pleased that the Government has made changes in this action plan to allow the SPCA to continue rehoming dogs irrespective of their breed.” says SPCA New Zealand CEO (Acting) Andrea Midgen.

“Breed alone is no indication of aggression, so we believe all dogs should be treated as individuals and not discriminated against based on what they look like. That’s why each dog at the SPCA is treated as an individual and undergoes health and behavior assessments before they are re-homed. No dog assessed as dangerous would ever be re-homed by the SPCA.”

The SPCA is also fully supportive of the provision in the proposal to regulate dog breeders. We hope that if this is implemented, there will be fewer ‘backyard breeders’ and a reduction in the unwanted dog population that our SPCA Centres have to respond to.

“This is a success for us and it’s a great result for the animals. But there is still more work to be done. Over the coming months the SPCA will continue to work with the Department of Internal Affairs and Minister Upston and will address areas of concern and areas for improvement with this proposal in the Select Committee process.”

More specifically, the SPCA would like to see:

- Further clarification on how breed will be assessed and consistency of temperament testing across the country.
- The scope of the Dog Control Act review to apply to all dogs rather than just classified dogs. This would allow for desexing initiatives to be extended to all dogs, rather than just those deemed as ‘high-risk’.
- Owner licensing extended to all dogs owners. We believe owners, rather than dogs, should be licensed.
- Removal of the existing breed-specific legislation provisions from the Dog Control Act 1996, as this has been shown not to reduce dog bites.
- Strengthen data collection on dog bites in our communities by creating a central repository. This will allow us to fully understand the extent of this complex societal issue and to respond accordingly.