International honour for SPCA National Chief Executive
Thursday, 16 December, 2010
SPCA New Zealand national chief executive Robyn Kippenberger has been recognised with an international award for her work in saving the lives of abandoned animals.
Ms Kippenberger is one of five recipients of the 2010 Henry Bergh Leadership Award and the first outside the United States to be recognised in its six years.
The SPCA's 'Saving Lives' campaign focuses on reducing the numbers of animals euthanized in centres with the by-line that 'every life is precious'. Ms Kippenberger was instrumental in establishing the nationwide campaign which is led by the SPCA’s national president Bob Kerridge.
The award is presented by the No Kill Advocacy Center in California and is named for Henry Bergh, a 19th century animal advocate who launched the humane movement in the United States.
Ms Kippenberger says SPCAs must save lives, that they can save lives, and that they should adopt their way out of killing. She says there are many humane alternatives to putting down animals.
"Too many animals were needlessly dying. We are now in the 'business of saving lives'. We are working to make New Zealand the world’s first 'no kill' nation.'
Ms Kippenberger says receiving the award is a great honour and reflects the work and enthusiasm of many SPCA people in this country. "The Henry Bergh Award gives us an opportunity to highlight the importance of what we are doing in New Zealand.
"Our immediate goal is to achieve a situation where no animal coming in to an SPCA is killed because of lack of space. Then we want to drive down the kill rate to less than 20 per cent nationwide by 2012.
"Finally, we are seeking on-going funding streams to both the national organisation and regional SPCA centres to maintain and entrench the Saving Lives programme."
When Ms Kippenberger was appointed NCE of the Society, the nation’s euthanasia rate was more than 60 per cent with some centres killing as many as 87 out of 100 of animals they were taking in.
A comprehensive protocol for Saving Lives devised and authored by Bob Kerridge informs SPCA Centre work. Ms Kippenberger and her team assist and coordinate efforts nationwide including moving animals from one SPCA to another to give them the best chance of adoption.
The organisation also has a national memorandum of understanding with Animates to take kittens and pups and sell them as SPCA Special Animals.
"Back yard breeders and puppy mills are being frozen out of the pet market," she says. "People feel great about helping an SPCA orphan and we now have around 20 more 'outlets' for our de-sexed, vaccinated and micro-chipped babies."
Ms Kippenberger introduced pro-active free de-sexing and got a national mobile de-sexing clinic on the road providing de-sexing of pets in low income families throughout the country. The SPCA National also now has its own Saving Lives Ambassador who helps the 48 New Zealand SPCAs put in place the Saving Lives protocols.
Today at least two SPCAs report zero euthanasia rates with more in single figures and some in the 20-30 per cent range.
Ms Kippenberger says SPCAs have widely embraced the changes. "I am often approached and told how happy workers are with the positive changes – there aren’t many people who enjoy killing animals."