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SPCA Dog Training Survey


Attention all dog owners! patch small

The SPCA and the New Zealand Companion Animal Council are launching a survey for all dog owners in New Zealand to investigate how Kiwi dogs are being trained.

There are currently no published studies on what dog training methods are being commonly used in New Zealand. We want to find out whether dogs are receiving formal training, and what kind of training methods are being used by their owners and trainers.

Please fill out the anonymous survey at and share with your friends and family who have dogs at home.

The story of Madison the blind puppy


maddison blind pup 10Sarah, an SPCA canine team member wrote a letter about Madison, a small 3 week old puppy who was found in desperate need of our help. Here is her story:

When SPCA Inspector Andre told me he had just rescued nine squirming, wriggling, 3-week-old puppies, my heart broke.  They were too young to be without their mum, but their owner was selling them on a Facebook page

It doesn't bear thinking about what could have happened to these puppies if they'd been carelessly given away. 

All nine puppies were beautiful, but there was something special about little Madison. Even though she was only three weeks old, her bright and lively personality shone through, and I looked forward to seeing her little face each morning. 

It was tough. We spent hours syringe-feeding the puppies. Some days I would just sit on the floor with Madison wrapped up in blankets trying to keep her warm.

Many people don't realise just how vulnerable young animals like Madison are. It can be touch and go, and sometimes I'm not sure if they'll survive.

I spent so many nights worrying about Madison and her brothers and sisters.

Then one day, our vet noticed that Madison walked into her water bowl. After a few more tests, he announced that she was completely blind.

I was shocked. Madison was the most confident and adventurous puppy of the litter.

So I spent hours and hours researching how to raise blind dogs, determined to give this remarkable girl the best life possible.

Madison showed me her incredible resilience. If I put a new water bowl in her playpen, she would touch it all the way around with the tip of her nose to get a sense of the size of it.

The two of us even went on TV together. We showed everyone watching The Cafe just how special she is.

It was unbelievable watching these bundles of joy beat the odds, and grow up to become such loveable dogs. When Madison found her forever home, I cried big, happy tears because I just knew they were the ones we'd been waiting for.

But Madison is just one of the thousands of animals that need the SPCA's help. Some need life-saving surgery and months of rehabilitation, and others may just need vaccinations and a check-up.

People like you mean that other animals like Madison can also have the second chance they are waiting for. Will you help us by making a donation today?

SPCA Canine Team Member

20160906 201855maggie new home

Keeping your dog out of your car during warm weather


While it is still warm, it is incredibly important NOT to leave your dog in your car.

Avoiding the risk of giving your canine heat stress can be as simple as preparation and awareness.

At the height of summer, make sure you're planning trips so you're not going to be in a situation where your dog has to stay in the hot car while you're running an errand.

It can take only 6 minutes for a dog to die in a hot car so don't risk it! Pets can dangerously overheat even when the windows are down or the car is in the shade.

The car can heat up to dangerously high temperatures very quickly, rapidly reaching more than double the outside temperature even on mild days. Please NEVER leave your dog in the car and risk him/her overheating and dying.

If you find a dog in distress from a hot car they should be taken to a vet straight away! Emergency treatment while you are getting to the vet should aim to bring the dog's body temperature down at a steady but not rapid rate. You can spray cool water onto the dog’s body and direct moving air from a fan onto them. Please do not se ice or ice-cold water, as this can cool the dog too rapidly and cause more problems.

The early symptoms of heat stress include panting, drooling and restlessness. As the situation worsens the animal becomes weak and they may stagger and vomit and have diarrhoea or seizures.

SPCA Learn-to-Read Storybooks become accessible to blind students


ALL 6 BOOKS 1Last year every single Primary and Intermediate School across New Zealand was sent copies of the SPCA Learn-to-Read Storybooks with the aim of helping Kiwi kids to both improve their reading skills and learn to care for and respect animals.

Now the storybooks are going to be accessible for kids who have a vision impairment, thanks to the team at the Blind Foundation.

The Blind Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation that supports people who are blind, deaf-blind or vision impaired.

They will be transcribing the six storybooks into accessible formats so that they can be enjoyed by all New Zealand children. These formats include braille, large print, audio and accessible electronic text.

The six books in the series 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.

“Research tells us that the best way to achieve behavioural change is by reaching out to children between 7 and 12 years old. By educating the next generation of animal owners, we can help ensure a better future for all animals,” says SPCA New Zealand CEO Andrea Midgen.

The SPCA Learn-to-Read Storybooks are skilfully written to enable teachers to integrate them straight into their classroom literacy programmes. The intention of each story is to teach core animal welfare messages, while also supporting the development of children’s reading skills and strategies. If you haven’t seen our storybooks before, we have six SPCA learn-to-read storybooks, which were launched in October 2016.

Each of the 6 books is based on a real-life animal from the SPCA and has messages of animal welfare and tips on how kids can care for their own animals at home.

We truly believe that by teaching our children about how to treat animals, we're helping to stop the cycle of cruelty in our communities.

The Learn-to-Read Storybooks that The Blind Foundation will use are:

The Smooth Movers’ Club
A boy and his father want their move to the city to go smoothly for their cat Noah. It does, until Muscles, the fearsome neighbourhood tomcat, turns up.

Sam and Charlie Love Pudding
When the abandoned cat who lives under the sports shed at their school gets into trouble, Sam and Charlie have to act.

The Problem with Sione’s Spaghetti
Sione’s pet rabbit has a problem. Sione’s solution involves a pack of raging rhinos, but will it work?

Storm Gets A New family
Storm used to spend his days chained to kennel till his life was changed by a bolt of lightning and a girl with friendly eyes.

Pumpkin Pie and Pavlova
Mrs Melling likes pumpkin pie and pavlova much more than she likes Mr Watkins or his hens. Will Mr Watkins find a way to change that?

The Mouse at the Mall
A girl and her mother go to the mall to buy shoes. They leave with a shoebox with a toilet roll and a mouse inside. What will happen next?

The SPCA Learn-to-Read Storybooks are available for purchase by schools and our supporters. Visit our online shop here.

Man sentenced after pet cat left hanging in leg-hold trap until dead


A Masterton man who caused a neighbour’s cat to die while hanging by its leg in a leg-hold trap was sentenced yesterday in the Masterton District Court.

Ross Dorrian, 55, pleaded guilty to two charges: using a restricted trap in contravention of the Animal Welfare (Leg Hold Traps) Order 2007 and ill-treatment of an animal causing the animal to suffer unreasonable or unnecessary pain or distress.

He was ordered to pay $1500 fine to the SPCA, $500 emotional harm to the owners, $263 vet costs and $100 in legal fees.

The case began on or about Sunday 20 March 2016 when the defendant set a size one, restricted, leg-hold trap to catch possums, nailing it to the top of a post on his rear boundary fence of his property in Colombo Road, Masterton.

The Animal Welfare (Leg Hold Traps) Order 2007 prohibits the use of leg-hold traps within 150 metres of a dwelling without the express permission of the occupier or in any area where there is a probable risk of catching a companion animal.

“Mr Dorrian set his trap within 150 metres of approximately 143 dwellings and didn’t seek permission from any of his neighbours at any time,” says Steve Glassey, Wellington SPCA Chief Executive.

The defendant checked the trap on the evening of 22 March and found it empty.

The next night at about 8.30pm, a four-year-old, female, tabby/tortoiseshell and white cat called Eli was discovered, dead, hanging by her left front leg from the trap.

“Because the trap was suspended from a fence post, Eli was left hanging by her left front leg, unable to pull herself up. Numerous scratches and scuffmarks on the fence confirm her desperate efforts to escape,” says Mr Glassey.

“Let’s be very clear here: this trap was set incorrectly. It is not acceptable for a trap to be set in such a way that would leave any trapped animal hanging, regardless of whether it is the target animal or not. Doing so could result in cruelty offences being committed, as in this case.”

The defendant failed to check the trap on 23 March and was unaware that Eli had been caught.

“Any live capture trap must be checked within 12 hours of sunrise on each day the trap remains set to determine if an animal has been caught,” says Mr Glassey. “Again, the defendant failed to do this.”

Veterinary examination of the cat’s body revealed that the elbow of her left forelimb was dislocated. Compression from the trap may have caused lack of blood supply to the limb and nerve compression. After about 30 minutes this would have caused pain that would have got progressively worse.

The cause of death could not be established, but the presence of scratches and scuffmarks on the fence, coupled with the fact that the cat died in the trap, suggest that shock, dehydration, hypothermia, and exhaustion were contributing factors.

The veterinarian concluded that Eli would have suffered severe pain and distress at the time of having her foot caught in the trap, and hanging from the trap would have caused stretching and strain on the muscles on the left forelimb and trunk, which would have caused severe discomfort and muscle pain. Eli would have also experienced distress from being restrained and being unable to express the normal fight or flight behaviours when exposed to pain.

When interviewed, the defendant said that he knew that there were cats around but stated that they didn’t tend to go into his property as he had built the fences up over the years. However, he agreed that there was a probable risk of catching a cat. He expressed significant remorse and has been co-operative throughout the investigation.

“Setting leg-hold traps in urban areas is totally unacceptable for several compelling reasons,” says Mr Glassey.

“You can’t set leg-hold traps within 150 metres of any dwelling without the occupier’s permission. You’re also not allowed to set a trap where someone’s pet could easily be caught in it. And you shouldn’t set it in such a way that animals caught in the trap would end up hanging off the ground.

“Even if you do satisfy these conditions, you also have to check it daily within 12 hours of sunrise or face possible cruelty charges if an animal is caught and you fail to deal with it in a humane way.

“The SPCA wants to send a clear message on this issue: don’t set leg-hold traps in urban areas. The risks to pets and children are real and the consequences are potentially severe.”