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SPCA New Zealand against Queen Street sheep running

Monday, 15 August, 2011

SPCA New Zealand is calling for the proposed 'running of the sheep' down Auckland’s Queen Street to be removed from the Real New Zealand World Cup event in October.

A barrage of concerned calls from the public confirmed the SPCA's concerns around the proposal to run a mob of sheep down the main shopping street.

"Although we have been assured by the organisers that no harm will come to the sheep, this runs against the humane principles held by the SPCA around the use of animals for entertainment. If animals are likely to suffer, simply as a 'side show', then the SPCA believes that they should not be subject to this distress," says Robyn Kippenberger, National Chief Executive of SPCA New Zealand.

"The fact that sheep were herded down Queen Street in the past should give no comfort. One hundred years ago many inhumane practices in farming and the use of animals in circuses and zoos were tolerated, many of which are now illegal.

"The current Animal Welfare Act places obligations on the owner of animals to protect them from unreasonable or unnecessary distress. Should sheep be harmed in this activity the owner would face possible charges under the Act – not a good look in a World Cup environment with the eyes of the world on New Zealand."

SPCA Auckland have been working with organisers of the event to ensure that, should the mob run down Queen Street, every contingency has been thought of to protect the animals. However the unnecessary trucking of the sheep, releasing them, running them and then transporting them back is seen to be both risky and stressful.

"We are calling on the organisers to remove this particular event from their program in recognition of the distance we have come as a country that is held in the highest international regard for our animal welfare practices. The risk they take in not providing a draw card for their festival is small in comparison to the distress of the animals and the likelihood of world approbation if even one sheep is harmed," Ms Kippenberger concludes.