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SPCA's 2018 list of animal cruelty shame released as it appeals for help from public


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The SPCA has catalogued its worst examples of animal cruelty from 2018 as it appeals for more help from the public to run its inspections.

The 2018 "List of Shame" includes a Labrador which starved to death, a duck with its beak blown off with a firecracker and a horse left with a deformed and engorged eye.

SPCA chief executive Andrea Midgen said they need public support to continue to help animals in need. "We receive almost no government funding to run the SPCA Inspectorate, which costs approximately $9 million every year.

"We know this list is very upsetting, but this is the reality of what our Inspectors see in their jobs ... these horrific cases of neglect and violence towards animals reinforces the vital need for the SPCA's work.

"The SPCA is here to stand up for any animal that is physically abused, abandoned, neglected, tortured and in pain - it is a very big job and we need all the support we can get."

Greg Reid of the SPCA says repeat animal cruelty offenders should be jailed. We have some very significant serial offenders that really need to be spending time behind bars.

"Offending against the Animal Welfare Act does provide for imprisonment, and I'm trying to think of the last case that we actually had an imprisonment sentence," Mr Reid told 1 NEWS.

The law was changed some time ago, but Mr Reid said as with any law, "it takes a while for the regulatory system or the courts to catch up with the law. "And that's unfortunate because we have some very significant serial offenders that really need to be spending time behind bars frankly."

Mr Reid said he doesn't think the SPCA is dealing with more repeat offenders "but we do have, unfortunately, a small proportion that are repeat offenders and they are consistently there".

"There is going to be a point where we're going to need to have the courts and judges take seriously the penalties. We are going to be needing to start to get tough on some of these repeat offenders."


1. Sully, a spaniel/poodle cross was left in a dark room and was suffering malnutrition and matted fur.

2. A man who kept 600 chickens, roosters and ducks in appalling conditions - they were so hungry they were trying to eat the dead bodies of other birds.

3. Five-year-old Labrador cross Tasha collapsed from chronic starvation before she was taken to a vet - she died the same day.

4. A mallard duck was found outside Middlemore Hospital with its beak blown off by a firecracker - vets believe it may have been that way for three days and they had to put it to sleep.

5. Two dogs, Kasey and Keita, were left alone inside a house filled with rubbish, faeces and very little food or water - the owner told the SPCA he only visited them at the house once per week.

6. Jimmy the dog was dumped at a beach with a terrible eye injury which looked to have been caused by blunt force trauma - SPCA remarked on his loving temperament.

7. A woman was convicted after several of her animals including a goat, cow and a cat had to be euthanised for various injuries and medical issues - she had done little to alleviate them.

8. Inspectors found a horse, Frosty, left in pain with a swollen head after undergoing eye removal surgery - he had to be euthanised.

9. Lemuska the staffy was hit by a car and suffered very bad injuries to his hind legs - his owner didn't take him to the vet and after being seized, he had to be put down.

10. Four dumped kittens were found in a rubbish bag - fortunately they were OK, and were nursed back to health by the SPCA.

11. A horse called Sandfly had a dental procedure go horribly wrong - the equine dentist cause serious damage to his dental tissue with no pain relief.

SPCA's List of Shame 2018


SPCA Inspectors see many cases of shocking animal abuse, neglect and cruelty each year. This List of Shame is the culmination of these – some of the worst cases the SPCA has investigated and prosecuted in 2017.

1. Sully, a spaniel poodle cross, was owned by a woman previously prosecuted by a woman prosecuted by the SPCA and disqualified from owning animals. He was found living in a dark room of darkness. After a court order to forfeit Sully into the care of the SPCA and months of rehabilitation, Sully was adopted by a new loving family. The animal welfare investigation is still ongoing and is yet to be brought before the courts. Sully was chosen as the ‘face’ of the 2018 SPCA Annual Appeal because he demonstrates just how vital the SPCA’s work is. Without dedication from the SPCA Inspectors, vets, canine team, animal behaviourists and his foster family, Sully would not be living the happy life he is today.

1List of Shame 1 Sully BOTH FBOptimised

2. A man was sentenced to home detention after keeping a large number of birds in abhorrent condition. Upon arriving at his property, an SPCA Inspector found 600 chickens, roosters and ducks being kept in overcrowded conditions, with no dry area, no shelter, insufficient water and no adequate food. The birds had severe feather loss and were in very thin body condition. They were walking around in thick mud and faeces, among the bodies of dead birds. They were so hungry that they were trying to feed on the decomposing birds. A veterinarian examination determined that the health and prognosis of the birds was so poor they were unlikely to regain full health, even with intensive treatment. Sadly, they had to be euthanized to end their suffering. The man was prosecuted by the SPCA and sentenced to six months’ home detention, 150 hours of community work, and ordered to pay veterinary and court costs to a total value of $3840. He was also disqualified from owning animals for 10 years.

5List of Shame 2 600 birds FBOptimised

3. It wasn’t until Tasha was collapsed and unresponsive that anyone sought assistance for her. The five-year-old Labrador cross was rescued by an SPCA Inspector and taken for immediate veterinary treatment. Sadly, she died the same day due to the severity of her condition. Tasha was so emaciated that she had the lowest possible body condition and clinical signs indicating chronic starvation. She was had flea allergic skin disease, a sore on her leg and fur loss consistent with a collar wound. Tasha would have endured a huge amount of pain and was probably suffering for a considerable period of time. Her owner pleaded guilty to ill-treatment of an animal, was disqualified from owning animals for 10 years and fined $2000. 

8List of Shame 3 Tasha FBOptimised

4. In a very disturbing case of animal cruelty, a young mallard duck was found with catastrophic fireworks-related injuries that SPCA veterinarians suspect were intentionally inflicted. The duck was found still alive, and in extreme pain. Her beak was destroyed and she had suffered a degloving injury. The injuries she sustained could only have been caused by a firework, likely purposely put in the duck’s mouth. These catastrophic injuries were irreparable and the kindest thing SPCA veterinarians could do was end her suffering. Despite launching a full investigation, SPCA Inspectors never found the person or persons responsible.

9List of Shame 4 Fireworks Duck FBOptimised

5. Jimmy was dumped at a beach, malnourished and with bad wounds, bruising to his head and an irreparable eye injury. His injuries suggest Jimmy suffered blunt force trauma to his head – likely inflicted purposely by a cruel person. SPCA Inspectors launched a full animal welfare investigation, but have not found the person or persons responsible. Jimmy amazed SPCA staff with his kind soul and loving temperament – and even wagged his tail while veterinarians stitched up his eye. He is still recovering at a foster home, but once healed, Jimmy will be adopted by a loving family and finally get the love and care he deserves.

13List of Shame 5 Jimmy FBOptimised

6. An SPCA Inspector found Kasey and Keita living alone inside a house among rubbish, faeces and very little food and water. Keita was pregnant and underweight, with visible rib and hip bones. Kasey was suffering from a bad ear infection, scabs and hair loss. Their owner told the SPCA the dogs had been living alone in the house for a year and he had been only visiting once a week. After an SPCA investigation, the owner was banned from owning dogs for five years, sentenced to 120 hours’ community work and ordered to pay $3183.80 in reparations to the SPCA. Both Kasey and Keita were forfeited to the care of the SPCA, where they made a full recovery. 

list of shame 6

7. Several animals at a property had to be euthanised to alleviate their suffering, after their owner failed to treat their obvious injuries and ailments. The owner’s animal included a goat in severe pain with an irreparable fracture, and a cat suffering from kidney disease, severe painful dental disease and two untreated fractures to its hind leg. The woman was sentenced to 300 hours community work and 9 months supervision, including attendance of any programmes recommended by probation. She was ordered to pay $2000 reparations, $500 towards legal costs, to forfeit ownership of her two cats to the SPCA and was disqualified from owning animals for five years. A cow with a severe, untreated eye injury was also found on the woman’s property but was identified as belonging to her associate. He was also prosecuted and sentenced to 150 hours community work, ordered to pay $788.20 in reparations and a contribution of $500 towards solicitor costs and disqualified from owning animals for five years. 

18List of Shame 7 Hoarding Case BOTH FBOptimised

8. SPCA Inspectors arrived at a paddock to find a grey horse, Frosty, in obvious signs of pain and distress. Frosty had undergone eye removal surgery and the sutures had been left in and his head was grossly enlarged and misshapen. The Inspectors immediately called a veterinarian, who said that the horse’s facial swelling, eating and breathing difficulty were obvious even from a distance and should have been tended to immediately. Sadly, due to the extent of his injuries and his pain and distress, the veterinarian recommended Frosty be euthanised on humane grounds. Frosty’s owner was prosecuted by the SPCA and sentenced to 260 hours’ community work, disqualified from owning horses for 5 years and ordered to pay reparations of $1468.41.'

23List of Shame 8 Frosty the horse FBOptimised

9. When Lemuska was hit by a car, he sustained such leg injuries he couldn’t move. The Staffordshire bull terrier cross suffered open de-gloving wounds on both hind legs exhibited so severe that the bone was exposed. Yet his owner didn’t take him for the veterinary treatment he obviously needed. An SPCA Inspector immediately seized Lemuska to take him for urgent veterinary treatment. The SPCA veterinarian said Lemuska was in severe pain and was also suffering a irreparably fractured foot. Sadly due to the extent of his injuries and the level of pain and distress he was suffering, the SPCA veterinarian recommended that Lemuska be euthanised on humane grounds. Lemuska’s owner was prosecuted by the SPCA sentenced to 150 hours of community work, and ordered to pay reparations of $197.31 and court costs of $60. He was also disqualified from owning animals for two years. 

24List of Shame 9 Lemuska FBOptimised

10. Chestnut gelding pony Sandfly’s routine dental check-up was botched so badly by the equine dentist, it caused irreversible damage to the pulp tissue. The equine dentist removed half to two thirds of two cheek teeth without pre, or post-treatment sedation or pain relief. Two months later, Sandfly stopped eating and was diagnosed with an infection in one of the teeth. Because of the irreversible damage to the pulp tissue, recurrence of infection is highly likely. Sandfly is being kept on long-term oral antibiotics and extraction in the long term will be required once this is possible. The SPCA prosecuted the equine dentist responsible for Sandfly’s treatment and he was ordered to pay a fine of $2,500 payable to the SPCA and reparation of $2,500 vet costs payable to the pony’s owner.

27List of Shame 10 Sandfly FBOptimised

11. Four dumped kittens were rescued and brought back to health by the SPCA after they were found in a bin liner. Just six weeks old, the tabby kittens were very lucky to have survived the ordeal. They were given vet care, food, and spent time with a foster family before each being adopted by loving families.Abandoning an animal is an offence under the Animal Welfare Act 1999, but the SPCA Inspector’s investigation into finding the person responsible was not successful. Unfortunately, animals being dumped and abandoned is not uncommon - stories like this can be found at every SPCA Centre across New Zealand.


SPCA Chief Executive Andrea Midgen. says, "We need the public's support to end this shameful cruelty in New Zealand. We receive almost no government funding to run the SPCA Inspectorate, which costs approximately $9 million every year."

Donations for this year's SPCA Annual Appealcan be made to street collectors around the country from Friday 9th to Sunday 11th March 2018, or online.

Equine dentist sentenced for smashing pony’s teeth

As a result of a brutally botched dental treatment on a pony, a Wellington equine dentist was last week convicted of ill-treating a pony. Sandfly the Pony
Marten Dijkstra, 49, was sentenced in the Hutt Valley District Court and ordered to pay a fine of $2,500 payable to the SPCA and reparation of $2,500 vet costs payable to the pony’s owner. 

The charge stemmed from an incident in January 2016 when the defendant was engaged, in his capacity as an equine dentist, to perform a routine dental check-up of Sandfly, a chestnut gelding pony. The check-up resulted in the removal of both the lower left and lower right last cheek teeth (311 and 411) hooks.

To do this the defendant used one half of a broken set of molar cutters by setting the flat end of the broken device against the hook of the tooth and using it in the manner of a chisel. As he was not qualified to administer sedation or pain relief, neither were given either pre, or post-treatment.

In March 2016 Sandfly stopped eating. A full oral exam under sedation and radiographs revealed that a half to two thirds of the lower left and lower right cheek teeth (311 and 411) had been cut off. The left lower cheek tooth had distinct changes consistent with periapical infection, indicating that direct pulp exposure had been caused by the cutting.

“The SPCA hopes this judgement will serve as a reminder to Equine lay-dentists, farriers and others responsible for animals, that any treatments that carry risk of causing pain or distress should be discussed with or referred to a veterinarian to avoid cases like this occurring,” says SPCA CEO Andrea Midgen.

“Although some people may see this as a minor offence, it is important to remember that an animal suffered unnecessary pain and distress both during the treatment and for a long period afterward due to poor judgement and incorrect technique used by the defendant.”

Although Sandfly responded well to a course of antibiotics and anti-inflammatory pain relief, because irreversible damage to the pulp tissue has been caused, recurrence of infection is highly likely.

Sandfly is being kept on long-term oral antibiotics and extraction in the long term will be required once this is possible. Although the long-term prognosis for the pony is still guarded, it is hoped that with ongoing veterinary care he will have a full recovery.

Preventing cruelty in the community

Over the last five years Dr Shalsee has dedicated her time to creating a better life for animals. Here are just some of the initiatives that have been introduced to SPCA's Auckland Centre. 
Hiding away in the dark under someone’s home, heavily pregnant cat Daisy is about to give birth to a litter of kittens. Daisy is only six months old, thought by some to be too young to be a mother. She herself was born to an undesexed and young cat who had been abandoned and had a litter unexpectedly.

Many cats and kittens like Daisy are left to fend for themselves. Some are found and taken to animal rescues like the SPCA. But all highlight the problem of too many cats being born unloved and without a family around New Zealand. “The sad reality is, that a lot of animals are born unexpectedly and are unwanted. They are the ones brought to the SPCA after being neglected or abandoned,” says Dr Shalsee Vigeant.

The focus of SPCA Auckland over the last five years has been on truly preventing cruelty in the community, and the SPCA being at ‘the top of the cliff’ as opposed to the ‘ambulance at the bottom’. “We want to stop thousands of animals being born without ever knowing the love they deserve.”

The SPCA believes working with communities and educating the public on the importance of responsible pet ownership and desexing animals is key, explains Shalsee. “We know that as the SPCA, we have to do as much as we can to change behaviours and ultimately create a better life for all animals.”

Desexing explained

So what does desexing mean? Desex, spey, neuter, alter, castrate, sterilise or fix – they are all terms used to describe an operation that stops animals reproducing. A spey is an operation to remove the ovaries and uterus in a female. A neuter is an operation to remove the testicles in a male.  This means that he should not want to roam to find a female mate and he should also spray and mark on things less often.

There are common misconceptions around desexing which can stop owners from considering spaying or neutering their cat:

MYTH: It is better for females to have one litter before being spayed.

FACT: Veterinary science tells us that the opposite is actually true.  Female animals that have not been spayed are at high risk of cancers of the uterus, ovaries and mammary glands as well as complications of pregnancy and birth.

MYTH: My male animal will lose his “manhood” when he is neutered.

FACT: Animals don’t experience the concepts of sexual identity or ego. A cat’s basic personality will not change after he is neutered.   Animals do not suffer emotionally or feel self-conscious after being neutered.

MYTH: Desexing is too expensive

FACT: There are actually lots of affordable options on offer in local communities. It is much more expensive to have your cat reproduce and then to take care of a litter of kittens.

Scientific research has proven that a desexed animal lives a happier and healthier life. They are less likely to get into fights, can be more affectionate and friendly and have a reduced risk of health problems such as cancer.

“A desexed pet will live a much healthier and content life,” says Shalsee.

“We want to help pet owners see the importance of desexing their companions. Not only will it make your pets life better, but it ensures they don’t unknowingly or unexpectedly reproduce a litter of animals who are at risk of being abused and neglected.”

A better life for the family companion

SPCA Auckland has worked hard in recent years to address the problem of too many cats being born unwanted and not living a good quality of life.

Previous to Shalsee joining SPCA Auckland, the centre offered some limited free desexing which was open for anyone across Auckland to apply for. However, in order for desexing to be successful in decreasing the number of unwanted cats being born, it needs to be targeted, explains Shalsee.

“It is scientifically proven that for desexing to work in reducing numbers of unwanted animals, it needs to be done strategically and focus on specific areas at a time. Working too broadly and ad hoc won’t address the problem. We introduced much more targeted desexing campaigns and began running these in the areas that needed it the most. Our desexing team analyse incoming cat numbers and locations to assess the areas with the highest need.”

These campaigns usually target 12 of the suburbs responsible for the highest amount of incoming cats to SPCA Auckland. The aim is to reach out to those who cannot afford the desexing operation or may not normally consider having their cat desexed to use this opportunity. It also provides a chance opportunity for cat owners that do not currently have a local vet to get to know one.

The team then advertise around the community by circulating posters, putting adverts on social media, and reaching out to animal lovers to help spread the word. “We’ve had members of the community personally go around houses in their neighbourhood and hand out flyers, and lend carry cages. We are so grateful for this help – this really is a team effort and just highlights how much we need our amazing communities’ help with this work,” says Shalsee. 

Cat owners have responded well to these campaigns and SPCA Auckland has seen close to 7,000 cats and kittens desexed over the last two years. The aim is to continue these campaigns and expand to new suburbs.

As well as running campaigns, SPCA Auckland has also launched additional initiatives to work with other local animal rescues. In July this year, they launched a desexing grant project, aimed at helping other rescue organisations fund their own desexing projects. This provided other rescues the chance to apply for financial support from the SPCA to enable them to run their own desexing campaigns. This was very successful and helped 11 other animal rescues do just this. 

“The reality is that we can only do so much. The best way for the SPCA to make an even bigger difference is by working with other rescue organisations to reach more animals. We have to work together as a team - we only have so much space and limited resource here at the centre. Ultimately, we all have the same goal in mind.”

What about stray cats?

What is the definition of a stray cat? I’ve heard the term ‘wild’ before?

To break it down - an ‘owned’ cat is one that lives in a home environment with a family of their own. A ‘stray’ cat is one that lives in the community, and while they may not be suited to live in a household, some are socialised with humans and are fed and looked after by members of the community. A ‘wild cat’ is one who is not socialised with humans and will live self-sufficient and away from any civilisation, they are not often seen around and will keep well out of sight from anyone.

Scientific research has proven that targeted and controlled desexing of stray cats in the community helps reduce high population numbers. This is often referred to as Trap, Neuter and Return (TNR).

After researching multiple areas around the city, SPCA Auckland piloted a Community Cat Programme and carefully chose a South Auckland suburb, Manurewa, as the targeted area. This suburb was chosen simply because it was responsible for the highest number of incoming cats to SPCA Auckland.

This programme deals only with homeless stray cats where a caregiver is looking after the cats, such as providing them with food and monitoring their health. The purpose is to over time reduce the population of Auckland’s stray cats and better manage their health.

Here’s how it works: SPCA volunteers visit the targeted area to catch stray cats and safely take them to a vet to be desexed, have health checks and then taken back to where they were found, to continue being cared for by the community.

Cats are always returned to the area they call ‘home’ and see as their territory, and are not left out in the ‘wild’ or in parks. “It’s important to remember that forcing a stray cat to live in a home may have a detrimental impact on their welfare and it may be far too stressful for them if they are not used to that”, says Shalsee.

“They live where they are best suited, out in the community with members of the public feeding them and keeping an eye on their health.”

Locals are given packs that explain how and why the programme will work, including collars they can put on their own cats during this time to show they have a home. Residents of the area are encouraged to inform the SPCA on the location of any stray cats in the area and to continue caring for the cats in their neighbourhood and ensuring they are in good health.

“Although this programme has previously raised questions for some New Zealanders, TNR is used by animal welfare organisations and councils around the world and has been proven to be the most effective and humane way of reducing stray cat populations if done appropriately,” says Shalsee.

“It is also important to help our communities see how crucial desexing is. We want them to know there are so many kittens born unwanted and without a home, and that they can help us put a stop to this. We are all working towards the same goal: creating a better future for all animals.”

This Community Cat Programme in Manurewa saw the population of stray cats, for the first time, stabilise. Fewer cats arrived at the SPCA from the suburb and due to the success of the programme, it is now being expanding to other suburbs in Auckland.

A forever home for cats

Smooching up to her new owners in the adoption area, it took Daisy a while to settle when she first arrived at the SPCA. Each day the feline team spent time sitting in her little room and comforting her with pats and toys. Slowly she gained more confidence and learnt how to play and be a happy cat. This enrichment is the final part of the cycle to creating a happy and healthy for the animals who arrive at the SPCA Auckland. As well as this, Daisy and her kittens were all desexed, vaccinated, microchipped and fully vet checked before being rehomed with their own family.

“People come to the SPCA and are shocked that people could abandon or neglect cats, but the sad reality is that we see cats like Daisy every day,” says Shalsee.

This is why the SPCA’s work with the community is so important in creating a better future for animals explains Shalsee. “As hard as we work on rescuing, rehabilitating, treating, and socialising cats who need us, our best way to create a better future for them is by in working with our communities to promote the importance of desexing and responsible pet ownership.”

Trade Me bans sale of Pugs, British Bulldogs and French Bulldogs


Trade Me has announced that it is banning the sale of pugs, British bulldogs and French bulldogs due to a medical condition the breeds share. Brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome (BOAS) dramatically impacts the quality of their life. Research shows that 90-95 per cent of these dogs have BOAS to varying degrees.

Here at the SPCA we are thrilled that Trade Me are taking a stand against the breeding of these dogs who suffer from considerable welfare issues. We believe that it isn't fair to breed animals with such shortened snouts simply because we find them cute. Without corrective surgery, large numbers of these dogs live with chronic pain and distress, with many owners unaware that their dog is suffering.

Many dogs suffer so severely from BOAS that they have trouble exercising for longer than three minutes. Furthermore, they cannot give birth naturally, which means each litter requires the mother to undertake a risky Caesarean section to produce puppies for sale. It is also said that, for these breeds, every breathe they take feels like they are breathing through a pillow. 

SPCA chief executive Andrea Midgen says that these dogs deserve better. "Pugs, British bulldogs and French bulldogs are lovely little dogs, but their exaggerated physical features cause them considerable welfare issues."

Years ago, these breeds did not look the way that they do now. Their skulls were differently shaped, and their snouts notably longer. Over time, people have bred these dogs to have a shortened snout, which can cause breathing difficulty.We believe that it isn't fair to breed animals with such shortened snouts purely for aesthetic reasons. They may look cute but they also suffer to look the way they do.

Without corrective surgery, large numbers of these dogs live with chronic pain and distress, with many owners unaware that their dog is suffering.

This is a great opportunity to educate owners who want to add a furry friend to their family. We ask that Kiwis consider adopting one of the thousands of rescue dogs in New Zealand instead.