top donate button

Success Stories

1. SPCA Dannevirke – Tess, the New Belly Dog


Tess was seized from a dire situation by SPCA Inspector Shannon Schofield. She had been living in a dirty kennel and had a huge tumour hanging from her underbelly. Tess almost died during the operation to remove the tumour as she was so underweight.

Tess was well enough to go to the SPCA. She got a bath and a fancy new haircut and went to live with SPCA volunteer Jayne. Tess hadn't been spayed during her first operation as the risk was too high, and subsequently she got an infected uterus and almost died again. When she was finally able to be spayed, we discovered more tumours during operation.

The transformation of this poor dog has been amazing. She spent the first part of her life on a chain and now has a loving family home where she is even allowed on the couch. “Tess came to her first St Francis day on Sunday, and the smile on her face brought tears to my eyes,” said SPCA Inspector Shannon Schofield.

A word from mum Jayne: “She sleeps with her white toy cat at night on the couch. I very often find her asleep with her head resting on it. She's very attached to me and follows me like a shadow. As soon as I sit down, she's right up close and nestles in close to me. At dinner time she eats her food so fast it's as if it's her last meal. I guess it will take time for her to realise that being starved is a thing of the past. She is very intense, and needing lots of nurturing. I love her dearly.”


2. SPCA South Taranaki – Ben, the Rest Home Cat


Ben was a stray cat who had been living under someone's house for two weeks. When he arrived at SPCA South Taranaki, his coat was dirty, he had a large cat bite abscess on his leg, and he was underweight and had not been neutered. Ben had obviously been living the rough life of a Tom cat before he was rescued by SPCA Inspector Shannon Schofield.

After treatment for his abscess, Ben was neutered and fed a healthy diet. He soon became a confident, cuddly cat. As no owner came forward to claim Ben, he was put up for adoption.

About this time, local rest home and hospital Trinity contacted us seeking a male cat that was easy care and well-adjusted to be social in a hospital setting. Based on our time with him, this was right up Ben's alley and he was donated to Trinity's hospital wing.

A couple of months later, we received a photo and note from the staff at Trinity. There was Ben, curled up on the lap of Mavis who was 101-years-old.

“It warmed my heart to see the impact the SPCA can have on both animal and human quality of life,” said SPCA Inspector Shannon Schofield. “I have since framed this picture and hung it in my office to remind me on the bad days the good that comes from working at the SPCA.”


3. SPCA New Plymouth – Baxter, the Bubbly Kitten

SPCA New Plymouth started to get phone calls from people who had spotted an adorable, ginger kitten living at an isolated rest area at the top of Mt Messenger, one hour north of New Plymouth. He would appear tantalisingly close to those who stopped, but always just out of reach.

The calls came from all over New Zealand from travellers who had seen this delightful little guy. And what made the story even more special was that he appeared to be living with two roosters. He didn't respond to the call, 'puss, puss', only to the call, 'chook, chook, chook!'

Three trips to the top of Mt Messenger by SPCA Inspector Bob Heslop were to no avail – Baxter didn't even show his face. But the calls kept coming. Finally, a breakthrough – a family who lived nearby were contacted and it was discovered that they had been feeding Baxter and could almost touch him. Another trip North was arranged, and this time a joint effort from the family and the SPCA (aided by food and a large net) resulted in one captured kitten. In less than an hour, Baxter was responding to possibly the first ever kind human touch he had received.

The last touch he had felt were the hands that threw him from a car – and he wasn't alone. Over a distance of about 20km, Baxter's wee siblings had also been abandoned. Whoever did this did not even have the heart to leave the wee kittens together. Thankfully, two other kittens were rescued by locals.

We can only hope that his mum ended up somewhere safe. She may have already come to the SPCA and been sent on her way to a loving, new home – no longer able to have kittens, yet full of hope for a new life.

Because of the people who cared enough to tell us about Baxter and the wonderful family who fed and encouraged him to trust people again, Baxter survived and is now a very contented and well-loved cat. After recovering at the SPCA, he was adopted by that same wonderful family who played such a big part in his rescue.


4. SPCA Whangarei – Brutus, the 'Bomb' Dog

brutus“When I first met Brutus, he was a tiny, 4-week-old waif who had been abandoned at a local service station,” said SPCA Inspector Helena Sweeting. “'You poor little thing,' I thought. 'I'm going to take you home and see if I can fix you.'”

With a lot of love and care (and the mothering of Helena's older dog, Sinsa), Brutus thrived and grew into a beautiful, healthy, young dog. He visited SPCA Whangarei every day to try to find his forever home, but nobody ever chose him. It began to look as though he'd be with the SPCA forever.

But Brutus was very intelligent and obsessed with toys, so Helena decided to get in touch with New Zealand Detector Dogs (NZDD) to see if he could become a drug or Customs dog. NZDD did an initial assessment and Brutus flew through it. The next step was to be assessed by NZDD handler and trainer Guus Knopers. When Guus visited the SPCA, he knew within minutes that Brutus was the kind of dog they needed in the Bomb Detection Unit.

Brutus was put through training (including scent detection and obedience) and passed with flying colours. Guus said he was in the top 5% of dogs he had ever trained. He has now flown off on the next chapter of his journey.

“It was a very happy/sad moment for me seeing him go,” said Helena, “knowing that his new life will be exciting but also may be dangerous, so proud that what he does will save lives. He had become such a part of my family. I do miss him.”


5. SPCA Whangarei – Heady, the Brown Shaver Hen

headyOne day a member of the public brought a brown shaver hen into SPCA Whangarei. She had a large injury to her head and comb area. There were no feathers or skin remaining on her head, and her skull was visible.

Heady was in otherwise okay condition – a little thin, but very friendly and talkative. She had been a stray in the area for about a week. The SPCA team were unsure what caused the injury, but applied diluted iodine to her head twice a day over the many months it took to heal. The skin finally grew over her skull but unfortunately her feathers never regrew.

During her recuperation, our staff fell in love with her. Heady now lives at SPCA Whangarei as part of the Education Crew. She helps with the school holiday programme, and has participated in our Annual Street Appeal and the local A&P Show.


6. SPCA North Taranaki – Willow, the Surfer Cat


On a visit from Australia, the Allerton family were walking down the beach when they saw something just on the edge of the waves. They realised it was an animal but before they could reach it a wave swept it away. Rushing into the water, Niki Allerton managed to rescue a tiny kitten.

“I picked her up and put her down my top,” said Jane Allerton. “She was just a skeleton covered in fur.”

The kitten was probably 6 weeks old, but looked more the size of a 3 week old.

Originally, Niki and Jane had called the kitten Wilson. The kitten's name was changed to Willow when it was revealed that he was actually a she. SPCA North Taranaki took Willow in, bottle fed her and transferred her into temporary foster care with one of their very dedicated Inspectors.

Willow thrived, and when the Allerton's moved back to New Zealand from Australia they adopted her. This photo of Willow with Jane and her daughter Chloe (3) says it all.

(Photo from North Taranaki Midweek/


7. SPCA Tauranga – Del, the Rescued Puppy

SPCA Inspector Jason Blair received an emergency call from the police to rescue an 8 week old puppy who had been struck by its owner.

Del was small and helpless, and without the assistance from the New Zealand Police and SPCA Tauranga, his future would have been very bleak indeed.

Del received vet treatment for his injuries and was then transferred to a foster home to heal. Once recovered, he returned to the SPCA to find a loving forever home. Del was about three and a half months old when he was adopted. He now has a family who treat him with the respect and kindness that he truly deserves.

Del's previous owner was fined $1,500 and disqualified from owning an animal for 5 years.


8. SPCA Whangarei – Kali, the Wild Cat

Sage was brought to SPCA Whangarei in a horrendous, homemade cat trap. The neighbours had been trapping a local colony of stray cats and bringing them to the SPCA.

When she arrived, Sage was a scared, 15 week old kitten. She settled in after a couple of weeks, but was still a bit timid and didn't like fast movements or a lot of noise. The SPCA team moved her into the cattery to see if her behaviour would improve. After two weeks in the cattery, Sage found her new family. They had a quiet home and were prepared to be patient with her.

The SPCA finds it very hard to find homes to suit scared, timid cats, so Sage's story is a unique one.

Below is a letter we received from Sage to her new owners, Julie and Barry.

“You adopted me on 14 August and at that time, I was known as Sage, and was a 'no expressions of interest' kitten, as I wasn't very well socialised. A lot has changed in the last few weeks. I now have a new name - Kali, which is the name of a wild goddess who represents 'change and transformation', and also the divine feminine. My name is appropriate in many ways, as I was certainly pretty wild when you took me home.

“The first two days I didn't use the little green sanctuary box you provided me with, but hid in the darkest corner underneath the 'L' shaped lounge suite, which meant no-one could come near me. But you outwitted me by taking the furniture out of the room, making me retreat to my box, where Julie could then reach in and pat me. At first I just hissed and scratched you but after a couple more days, despite myself, I started to purr. Another day or two later I decided to risk coming out of the box a little bit, then slowly ventured further into the room, and then over a few weeks I went room by room and got to know the whole house.

“I'm now comfortable everywhere inside, including the garage. I've also become used to visitors, although I usually hide in my secret hiding place that no one knows about behind the bookcase until I feel safe again. I also hide when no one else is at home, as I don't feel big enough to be on my own just yet.”


9. SPCA Bay of Islands – Maddie, the Mystery Bay Filly

A call from a member of the public resulted in a two-hour trip by SPCA Inspector Wendy Locke to pick up a distressed bay filly. She was only two days old and was severely malnourished.

With the filly in the back of her truck, Wendy made her way back to Bay of Islands Vets just before closing time. She picked up bottles and milk powder, and turned her laundry into an emergency stable.

Wendy named the filly Maddie and settled in for a very long night of feeding every 1.5 hours. The following day, the local vet concluded that Maddie was in great shape considering what she had been through, so SPCA Bay of Islands set to work to try to find Maddie a foster home.

Thanks to the Northland 'grapevine', we soon found a local lady who had a mare that could possibly take Maddie. We were delighted when the mare accepted Maddie and Maddie finally figured out what to do to get milk.

A perfect match. With Maddie at home with a new mum, Wendy was looking forward to a good night's sleep some 39 hours later.


Without your generous support, we wouldn't be able to give these animals the lives they deserve.


Click here to access our secure online donation form