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Animals are suffering this winter

No animal should be cold and alone this winter.

8.5.17 whangarei spca clydeRunning from shop to shop, trying to find someone to help ... but everything was closed. Little Dingo was alone, tired and freezing cold. When someone finally found him, he was so weak he could barely stand. SPCA Inspector Jill will never forget the Sunday that Dingo was found, wet and shivering. . “Dingo had been abandoned in a carpark. All the shops had closed for the weekend and there was nobody around.”

"He was malnourished, cold, and could barely stand - let alone walk."

As temperatures drop, Jill goes to bed worrying about all the animals just like Dingo, who are out on the streets. With no on to protect them from the bitter cold, abandoned animals like Dingo are suffering terribly. That's why we're reaching out for your help again. Will you give a winter gift to bring animals to warmth and safety?

As soon as Dingo was in our care, the SPCA team took him for a vet check-up. Dingo was very, very thin. He was so weak he wasn't able to bear weight on his back leg. So we went home to recover and gain strength with Inspector Jill, who specialises in fostering cirtical care animals.

"Dingo was such a shivery little puppy and felt the cold terribly. We had to buy jumpers to keep him warm."

"It was obvious that Dingo had come from a bad place. But as soon as he felt safe, he came out of his shell. He was the loveliest boy to have around."

Like she does with every animal she fosters, Inspector Jill found the perfect family for Dingo. His new mum Karen tells us she clicked with him right away. "It must hae been so hard for Dingo... who does that to a tiny puppy? We knew we could help him and that he would be happy here."

We know it'll warm your heart to know that on the first day in his new home, Karen built up a nice, cosy fire for Dingo. On winter nights, it's his favourite place to curl up with his canine sister Sookie. Racing aroun the garden at top speed, mum Karen says you'd never know Dingo's terrible beginning.

dingo"The only thing we've noticed is that Dingo wants to snuggle into you as close as he can. He'll bury his nose under your arm or in your neck. He loves to get under the blankets and make a little nest to stay warm."

Dingo's health and happiness is all thanks to people like you. Thank you for providing shelter, warmth, and safety for Dingo when he had no one else. 

But the nights are getting colder. As the temperatures drop, and you switch on the heater, or pull on a jumper - will you take a minute to think of all the animals who have no one else to keep them warm?

We know as an animal lover, you keep your pets sheltered from the rain and cold. With you they'll be safe, with a warm bed and blankets. Will you give he same care to an animal who isn't so fortunate? There will be many more animals who will be abandoned this winter to shiver on the streets.

We need your help to bring them to safety. We can't do it without you.

Please give the gift of warmth, shelter, and care and donate to the SPCA today. Every time you give, you change the life of an animal just like Dingo. So we're going to leave you with these words from Inspector Jill:

"With cases like Dingo's, it's kind of like watching a flower open. You get this tiny little puppy and they're so wrapped up in themselves. And then you watch them relax. Their feelings and confidence develop as they gain weight. It's the most beautiful thing to observe."

SPCA prosecutes after man violently abuses his dog


Man sentenced to community detention after beating his dog multiple times

George small versionA Canterbury man has been sentenced after complaints were made that he was regularly beating his dog George over a period of eight months.

Jade Noanoa pleaded guilty at the Christchurch District Court on June 14 to one charge of illtreating an animal under the Animal Welfare Act 1999. Mr Noanoa was sentenced today to three months’ community detention and was ordered to pay reparations of $3,116.07. He was also disqualified from owning dogs for five years.

The charge is representative, capturing almost continuous physical violence over a period of eight months. Witnesses report George was kicked, punched, strangled, beaten with weapons, shot at with a BB gun, and verbally abused.

“This case sets a legal precedent for the SPCA,” says Andrea Midgen, SPCA CEO. “Without physical evidence, such as photo or video proof, it can be almost impossible to take action. We are thrilled that in this instance, Mr Noanoa was sentenced on the accounts of witnesses with no physical evidence.”

On 1 February 2017, the SPCA received a complaint that a Staffordshire cross type dog was being beaten. Members of the public witnessed the defendant coming home, then heard a loud thumping noise and yelping from the dog.

The SPCA visited the property the next day and took possession of George, who was examined by a veterinarian.

X-rays were taken but no broken bones found. However, the veterinarian was not surprised given the dog’s robust bone structure. She believed George’s stature could protect him from fractures. George was found to have scars around his right eye and an advanced cataract, which the veterinarian stated was unusual in a dog of this age. Whilst the exact cause of these scars is unknown, the expert evidence suggests that both injuries could have been caused by trauma.

SPCA Inspectors had previously visited Mr Noanoa’s property several times over a period of eight months, after receiving complaints from members of the public who were concerned for George’s welfare.

On their initial visit to the property, the Inspectors had found George in the backyard tethered to the boundary fence. He was observed to be in adequate body condition but without access to shelter. The dog had access to a small amount of water. An SPCA Inspector noted a scab on George’s head but could not find any other injuries to the dog.

After the first visit, a notice of entry was left requesting the owner to contact the SPCA. The Inspectors continued to follow-up and visit the property until they took possession of George on February 2.

George’s ownership has been surrendered to the SPCA. George has made a full recovery in the care of the SPCA’s Canterbury’s Centre, and is now available for adoption.

“Our Inspectors have to follow the appropriate legal process when dealing with animal welfare complaints,” says Andrea Midgen.

“Under the law, there has to be certain breaches of the Animal Welfare Act before an Inspector can intervene. I would like to acknowledge the Inspectors involved in this case for following the appropriate legal process. They visited the defendant, gave notices, and continued to follow-up.

“George deserves justice. He suffered extreme physical violence by his owner which went beyond a misplaced belief in correction – it was cruel. Thanks to the Inspectors involved in this case, we were able to achieve justice for George and rescue him from a life of abuse.”


Special pets with special needs


Here at the SPCA we celebrate animals of all shapes, sizes and abilities. Whether they have three legs or four, are hearing or deaf, have 20/20 vision or cannot see, all animals have the ability to be happy thriving companions.

Sadly, however, these animals are sometimes overlooked in shelters due to misconceptions. Read on to discover the stories of six SPCA pets with special needs who showcase just how adaptable and valuable all animals are. Keep an eye out for our animal care tips too. Who knows, you may be tempted to adopt a special pet of your own!

Chica’s story

Chica was brought to the SPCA as her owners were no longer in a position to care for her. When she first arrived, she seemed like every other puppy that comes into the SPCA. She was very sweet with soft white fur, and she loved to play. However, after a few days in our care, the SPCA canine attendants began to think little Chica was deaf.

They noticed that she was completely unaware of when they were behind her, and she didn’t notice other dogs barking at her. She was taken to the veterinarian for a full assessment and it was confirmed that she was indeed deaf. After her diagnosis, the team knew they had to adjust the way they trained Chica. Instead of using verbal commands, the team came up with hand signals to train Chica to ‘sit’, ‘stay’ and ‘heel’.

She learnt quickly, and proved herself to be a plucky and sweet-natured pup. Soon, she was ready to be adopted. The team were looking for the perfect family who would continue Chica’s training and help her live a happy life. Deaf dogs often bond closely with their owners, so the team wanted someone dedicated who could be a trustworthy leader to Chica. It wasn’t long before the perfect match came along. Brett, his partner, and his son Max were looking for a canine friend to join their family.

They met Chica and fell in love, taking her home the next week. Chica now lives a very happy life – she goes to work with Brett every day and loves to run around the house chasing sticks and balls. She is a very sociable girl and wins the hearts of everybody she meets – including the family cat, with whom she has made good friends.

Chica’s family have been continuing her training and Brett says he is using a one-handed version of sign language, which leaves his other hand free to hold her leash, for example. “She will come, sit, lie down and stay. She also knows ‘good girl’ and ‘no’, and will wait to eat her food until I give the command. She is very smart, but you have to be patient with her. It’s really rewarding training her.”

Training deaf dogs

It’s as easy to train a deaf dog as a hearing dog – the only difference is you use hand signals instead of verbal commands.

Consider making a list of the most important signs you want your dog to know. Make a list of the signs that are important to your family, prioritise them and begin with the foundation skills: ‘watch me’, ‘sit’, ‘down’, ‘stay’, ‘come’. You can even teach your dog a sign for ‘I love you’! ‘Watch me’ should be one of the very first skills your dog learns. By teaching them to constantly check in with you, you are always able to communicate with them, and keep them safe in the event of a dangerous situation.

While many people teach their dogs the New Zealand Sign Language, any hand signal will do, as long as you’re consistent. When the dog performs the correct command, give them an open flash of your hand or a thumbs-up to visually mark the correct behaviour and then give a treat.

It’s a good idea to find a certified trainer in your area who only uses positive-reinforcement techniques to support your dog’s training.

Caitlin's story

Caitlin the goat was rescued by an SPCA inspector after she was found wandering on the side of the road, with only three legs keeping her upright. One of her back legs had clearly suffered a serious injury. Caitlin’s injured leg was causing her so much pain and discomfort that the difficult decision was made to amputate it. After her surgery, she received special physical therapy from our rural animal technician.

which included a custom-made balance board. She quickly adapted to life on three legs, and was otherwise a very healthy and happy goat with lots of personality. She was very friendly, and loved the company of people, cuddles, and playing around.

After weeks of rehabilitation, Caitlin was ready to find her forever home. Her ideal home was somewhere that wasn’t too hilly, with soft grass to make it easier to move around. She also needed a covered area to sleep in at night, and a family that would spend quality time with her. We were delighted when Caitlin found her perfect place with a kind woman named Madelaine. Caitlin was renamed Lola and moved in with her new family which includes other adopted SPCA animals – pigs Cookie and Bruce, and a goat friend Smokey.

Caring for pets with three legs

In most cases, your pet can be perfectly happy and healthy on three legs – remember this if, unfortunately, you ever have to decide whether or not to have your pet’s leg amputated. Most animals adapt very quickly after surgery and cope very well on three legs. Create ‘no-slip zones’ in your home where your three-legged pet frequently travels.

With farm animals like Caitlin, level terrain makes it easier for her to get around. Make sure your three-legged pet maintains a healthy weight. Excess weight can strain joints and put animals at risk of injury or other health issues. Monitor your pet’s activity levels and watch for signs of fatigue; having to support their body weight on three legs instead of four can tire your pet out.

Freid and Theia's story

Fred and Theia are a very special pair: Fred is blind, and Theia, his sister, is his close buddy and ‘guide cat’. They like to spend time together and they make a great team. They came to the SPCA as strays, before spending some time in foster care.

Their foster mum took great care of them, and got to know them well. She knew exactly what kind of home they needed – somewhere they could be kept inside, as it is not safe for Fred to be outside. They also needed somewhere nice and quiet, where there wouldn’t be too much change, as Fred does best with a constant environment so he can learn his way around. And, because they were so close and Fred relied on his sister, it was important that they go to a home together.

It wasn’t long before this charming pair found a devoted home with Ali and Tyler. The couple had wanted a cat for a long time, and saw Fred and Theia’s profile on the SPCA website. They went to meet the pair and fell in love. A few days later, they took Fred and Theia home, where they quickly made themselves right at home. “You might think that Fred would be cautious and careful, being blind, but he’s absolutely the opposite. He races through the lounge at full speed, suddenly stopping and jumping to attack imaginary butterflies in the air,” says Ali. “Theia on the other hand is very calm and collected.

She will sit quietly watching Fred race around the room, and will barely flinch when he tumbles over her multiple times in the space of a minute. “Neither of us has had a blind pet before, so we weren’t sure what to expect, but Fred has been fantastic. He has been using the litter tray from day one, and is always the first to the food bowl when we rattle the biscuit tin.”

Ali says that although Fred has learnt his way around for the most part, sometimes he will get stuck on a windowsill or on top of the couch and will need help getting down. But he quickly gets the hang of it and will confidently jump down the next time without a problem. They have also had to ‘Fred-proof’ some areas of the house to stop him getting stuck as he likes to squeeze into small spaces.

“We are more conscious of what Fred’s doing, especially as we let him explore new rooms in the house,” she explains. “We’re so glad that we adopted Fred and Theia together, because they’re great company for each other,” says Ali. “Theia’s calm personality has helped Fred settle in too. He seems to get more worried when he is alone, but when she is nearby he is much more chilled. We are so in love with Fred and Theia, and can’t imagine not having them around the house – they’re both a constant source of entertainment and affection.”

Caring for blind cats

For your blind cat’s safety, it’s best to keep them indoors. An enclosed outdoor area, such as a courtyard or a screened window, will allow them to enjoy the fresh air, sunshine, smells and noises from outside while remaining safe. 

Even though blind cats can’t see, they love to play just as much as any other cat. There are lots of toys available to stimulate a cat’s hearing and sense of smell, like catnip-stuffed toys. Blind cats can be more easily startled than others, so be sure to let your blind cat know you’re coming, and don’t sweep them up off the floor without an introductory ‘hello’ and some gentle petting. If you need to change or rearrange furniture, lead your pet around the new layout a few times to help ease them into the change. Try and view the world from their height, and keep floors and passageways clear.

Honey and Bear's story

Honey and Bear were brought to the SPCA after a member of the public spotted them being given away outside a supermarket. She brought them to the SPCA so that we could find them the right home.

When they first arrived at the SPCA, it became apparent that their thick coats needed extra attention and care. Bear’s coat was so knotted that he had to be shaved to get rid of his matting, but he was given a lovely knitted jumper to keep him warm! Honey and Bear are Jersey woolly bunnies, which are renowned for their long fluffy coats. Because of this, they require a lot of maintenance to keep their coats knot-free. This is particularly important because the knots can become quite painful if they are not managed.

Rabbits like Honey and Bear need a dedicated owner who will groom them regularly. It’s best to brush their long fur several times a week, to keep their coats soft and sleek. Some rabbits who have particularly long fur, like Bear, will also need to be clipped to stop it growing out of control!

Bunny grooming tips

Brush your rabbit regularly to keep their coat looking clean and healthy. Some breeds, such as Jersey woollies and angoras, need a lot more grooming than other breeds. Try to make grooming a positive experience for your rabbit.

Let them see and smell the brush a few times and, while you do this, reward them with a piece of fruit or vegetable so they associate the brush with something positive. Start off with shorter grooming sessions until they are used to it. Sit on a chair so that they can’t jump off, or at least in a small pen with them, so you don’t have to chase them to get them back if they run away. There are a few different types of brushes you can buy. Test out which ones work for you and your bunny’s fur.

Generally, thin flea-style combs are good for removing knots – just make sure to be gentle. Flatter paddle brushes with thin bristles are good for general brushing. Wide brushes with big soft rubber bristles are good for when they shed between seasons, as they help remove excess fur. Lastly, be sure to use positive

Chill Bill's story

When Chill Bill was found as a tiny stray kitten, he was very underweight and had trouble walking. He was brought to the SPCA where our veterinarians diagnosed him with a condition called cerebellar hypoplasia, or CH for short.

CH occurs when the cerebellum, the part of the brain which controls physical coordination, is not completely mature at birth. Cats with the condition aren’t sick, weak or hurt; they’re simply a little uncoordinated. In fact, Chill Bill is full of beans! He’s very playful and sociable, and he loves cuddles.

Chill Bill’s cute quirks quickly won Millie and Niwa’s hearts, a young couple who decided to adopt him into their family. “He’s a little wobbly on his feet, but we reckon that makes him cool and unique,” they say. He has since been renamed Kyza, and his new family are smitten. He has settled quickly and charms visitors with his adorable nature and super social skills.

Caring for a cat with CH

The severity of the condition differs from cat to cat. Some, like Chill Bill, have a very mild form of the condition, whereas others may walk with their legs splayed and experience frequent balance loss and falls.

Unless a cat with CH has other health issues, their life expectancy is the same as a cat’s without it. Since the condition is non-progressive, it will never get worse. Cats with CH will often adjust in time and learn to do things differently. For example, some CH cats don’t have the coordination to jump, so instead they become great climbers.

Cats with CH are best kept as indoor pets to keep them safe from the road or climbing and falling. Cats with moderate CH will benefit from modifications in the home. Cats often slip and slide on hardwood or tiled floors, so having carpet or rugs will help them get around better. An accessible eating area, with elevated dishes that are not easily tipped over, will also make things easier for your cat. It’s also a good idea to use ramps to make elevated spots more accessible, such as the couch. These will help your cat be happy and safe in their home.

special needs

Curious Comet's new start in life


Comet had a scary and vulnerable start to life. Rather than knowing love and proper care, he was left as a tiny calf to fend for himself.

When he was little more than a month old, Comet’s fate changed when he was discovered by an SPCA inspector in his paddock. He was collapsed on the grass and had no energy to stand. He was skinny and shaky, and fighting for his life. The SPCA inspector took Comet immediately to the nearest vet. It was touch and go as to whether Comet would make the journey.

He was so alarmingly frail that he had to be carried into the van. However, on arrival at the vet’s, a miracle happened. Comet stood up and took his first steps in a long time – just as if he knew he was now in safe hands. He had a while to go until he would be healthy, but everyone was so relieved – Comet was a fighter!

Long road to recovery

Once he’d had a thorough medical check, Comet was taken to the nearest SPCA so that they could take care of him on his long road to recovery.

He was diagnosed with pneumonia after his ordeal, and was short of breath and energy, so he began medication to help him heal while being monitored closely by the farm team. Day by day Comet showed signs of improving. His breathing normalised and his chest cleared of infection. He even began to put on weight and go for daily walks around the farm.

As Comet’s strength grew, his personality started to shine through – he was a curious and cheeky boy. Comet became rather attached to the farm manager and would very boldly follow her around, giving her nudges for head rubs and attention. He also became quite accustomed to his bright pink harness and adored splashing around in the paddling pool. Much to everyone’s delight, Comet’s spirit was anything but dampened, and before long he was ready to find a new home.

A match made in heaven

As luck would have it, an SPCA foster parent heard about Comet and instantly knew she wanted to take him home to live with fellow rescue animals on her lifestyle block – it seemed like a match made in heaven.

Comet now lives an idyllic life at his new home with lots of farmyard companions, including another cow called Miss Moo, who he now looks up to. His new mum, Jan, tells us: “Comet hasn’t left the side of his cow friends and is so happy now he has a tribe of his own. He brings a smile to my face every day – seeing him trotting around his paddock so happily is just wonderful. He is such a lovely boy.”


Protect your pet from a ruff car ride these holidays


Southern Cross Pet Insurance and the SPCA are calling on pet owners to keep their animals safe every time they take them in a vehicle, particularly in the lead up to the school holidays.

The two organisations, which have been working in partnership since 2015 to promote responsible pet ownership, are making the plea because Southern Cross Pet Insurance has paid 16 claims over the past two years for pets being injured while in vehicles. Two of those claims involved dogs falling out of cars, each costing more than $3000 in vet treatment.

SPCA Chief Executive Andrea Midgen encourages all animal owners to take their pet’s safety and happiness into consideration before going on any trip.

“All animals should be transported in a way that ensures their physical wellbeing. We suggest dog owners use a secured and safe crate, and cat owners keep them contained in a carry cage,” Midgen says.

“If you’re heading out of town, make sure you stop every two or three hours for your animal to stretch, toilet and drink.

“Some pets find travel stressful, or can even suffer from motion sickness during a car ride. In these cases, the SPCA suggests owners seek advice from their veterinarian on how to ease their pet’s worries before making travel plans.”

Southern Cross Pet Insurance General Manager Anthony McPhail says people don’t think twice about making sure their children are wearing seatbelts and our furry friends deserve the same.

“If you’re taking your pet on a road trip you can keep them safe and avoid thousands of dollars in vet bills by ensuring your furry family member is safely secured in a moving vehicle,” McPhail says.

“Nobody wants to have their holiday spoiled by having their beloved pet injured. Pet insurance is another safety measure for the things you can’t predict, especially since there’s no public health system for animals.”

Top tips for transporting your pets:

  • If possible, try to get your pet used to being transported before any long trips to reduce stress. This can be done through gentle and patient training of the animal in the vehicle, making sure their experience is positive. Introduce them to short trips first. Build up to longer trips slowly and only when your pet is ready and coping well.
  • Pets can easily jump out of a vehicle’s windows, so keep windows up or just slightly open. A rule of thumb: if your pet can get their head out then they can get completely out!
  • The safest way for a dog to travel in a vehicle is contained in a crate that has been securely anchored. An alternative is to use a properly fitted dog harness that has passed safety-tests and is securely attached to the vehicle as directed by the manufacturer.
  • If transporting a cat, keep them contained in a carry cage that is partially covered to make them feel more at ease; as cats can easily become scared in a car. The carrier must be ventilated and safely secured so it does not move around and hurt your cat.
  • Pets should be kept in the back seat of the car, rather than the front. This will prevent them from being injured if an airbag deploys.
  • Ask your vet how to make trips more comfortable for your pet. For example, animals that get motion sickness or are anxious during a drive can be given medications to help them. There are also pheromone-based products that may help cats and dogs feel more relaxed.
  • Stop frequently during longer trips to allow your dog to exercise and go to the toilet. When leaving the car with your dog, they should always have a collar, ID tag, registration, and leash on.


Notes to editors: Southern Cross Pet Insurance and the SPCA have been partners since 2015. Southern Cross Pet Insurance’s six weeks’ free puppy and kitten cover is offered during the SPCA adoption process, and the organisations collaborate on a number of projects. Southern Cross Pet Insurance is the SPCA’s preferred pet insurer.

Jessie Gilchrist

Communications Manager, SPCA New Zealand

09 256 7317 or 022 658 3182

Campbell Gibson

Communications Advisor, Southern Cross Healthcare Group

09 925 6404 or 021 051 2667

About SPCA
The SPCA is a charity that helps protect animals who are sick, injured, lost, abused or simply abandoned. Every year, our 40 SPCA Centres across the country receive over 45,000 animals through their doors and 14,000 animal welfare complaints.

About Southern Cross Pet Insurance:

Southern Cross Pet Insurance looks after the health of more than 25,000 Kiwi pets. In the 2017 financial year, Southern Cross Pet Insurance paid out more than $5.1 million in claims (excluding GST).