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Man sentenced after pet cat left hanging in leg-hold trap until dead

22/02/2017 

A Masterton man who caused a neighbour’s cat to die while hanging by its leg in a leg-hold trap was sentenced yesterday in the Masterton District Court.

Ross Dorrian, 55, pleaded guilty to two charges: using a restricted trap in contravention of the Animal Welfare (Leg Hold Traps) Order 2007 and ill-treatment of an animal causing the animal to suffer unreasonable or unnecessary pain or distress.

He was ordered to pay $1500 fine to the SPCA, $500 emotional harm to the owners, $263 vet costs and $100 in legal fees.

The case began on or about Sunday 20 March 2016 when the defendant set a size one, restricted, leg-hold trap to catch possums, nailing it to the top of a post on his rear boundary fence of his property in Colombo Road, Masterton.

The Animal Welfare (Leg Hold Traps) Order 2007 prohibits the use of leg-hold traps within 150 metres of a dwelling without the express permission of the occupier or in any area where there is a probable risk of catching a companion animal.

“Mr Dorrian set his trap within 150 metres of approximately 143 dwellings and didn’t seek permission from any of his neighbours at any time,” says Steve Glassey, Wellington SPCA Chief Executive.

The defendant checked the trap on the evening of 22 March and found it empty.

The next night at about 8.30pm, a four-year-old, female, tabby/tortoiseshell and white cat called Eli was discovered, dead, hanging by her left front leg from the trap.

“Because the trap was suspended from a fence post, Eli was left hanging by her left front leg, unable to pull herself up. Numerous scratches and scuffmarks on the fence confirm her desperate efforts to escape,” says Mr Glassey.

“Let’s be very clear here: this trap was set incorrectly. It is not acceptable for a trap to be set in such a way that would leave any trapped animal hanging, regardless of whether it is the target animal or not. Doing so could result in cruelty offences being committed, as in this case.”

The defendant failed to check the trap on 23 March and was unaware that Eli had been caught.

“Any live capture trap must be checked within 12 hours of sunrise on each day the trap remains set to determine if an animal has been caught,” says Mr Glassey. “Again, the defendant failed to do this.”

Veterinary examination of the cat’s body revealed that the elbow of her left forelimb was dislocated. Compression from the trap may have caused lack of blood supply to the limb and nerve compression. After about 30 minutes this would have caused pain that would have got progressively worse.

The cause of death could not be established, but the presence of scratches and scuffmarks on the fence, coupled with the fact that the cat died in the trap, suggest that shock, dehydration, hypothermia, and exhaustion were contributing factors.

The veterinarian concluded that Eli would have suffered severe pain and distress at the time of having her foot caught in the trap, and hanging from the trap would have caused stretching and strain on the muscles on the left forelimb and trunk, which would have caused severe discomfort and muscle pain. Eli would have also experienced distress from being restrained and being unable to express the normal fight or flight behaviours when exposed to pain.

When interviewed, the defendant said that he knew that there were cats around but stated that they didn’t tend to go into his property as he had built the fences up over the years. However, he agreed that there was a probable risk of catching a cat. He expressed significant remorse and has been co-operative throughout the investigation.

“Setting leg-hold traps in urban areas is totally unacceptable for several compelling reasons,” says Mr Glassey.

“You can’t set leg-hold traps within 150 metres of any dwelling without the occupier’s permission. You’re also not allowed to set a trap where someone’s pet could easily be caught in it. And you shouldn’t set it in such a way that animals caught in the trap would end up hanging off the ground.

“Even if you do satisfy these conditions, you also have to check it daily within 12 hours of sunrise or face possible cruelty charges if an animal is caught and you fail to deal with it in a humane way.

“The SPCA wants to send a clear message on this issue: don’t set leg-hold traps in urban areas. The risks to pets and children are real and the consequences are potentially severe.”

SPCA calls for pet shops to stop selling un-desexed cats and kittens

31/01/17

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The SPCA is calling for New Zealand pet shops to stop selling cats and kittens that are not desexed to help prevent litters of unwanted animals.

Summer is ‘kitten season’ - the time of year when cats breed - and as a result thousands of unwanted and stray kittens end up at the SPCA.

Pet shops selling un-desexed animals further contributes to these large numbers, stretching the SPCA’s limited resources even more. 

In Manawatu, the SPCA is dealing with the fall-out of their area being flooded with un-desexed cats and kittens purchased from pet shops.

Manawatu SPCA General Manager Danny Auger has heard reports of pet shops in the district selling hundreds of un-desexed and unvaccinated cats and kittens a year. This summer the Centre is full of kittens, and has had to enlist the help of a record number of foster families to care for them.

“The problem with selling or giving away un-desexed animals is that the new owners often don’t follow through with getting their new pet desexed. Or they may not realise just how young a cat can become pregnant and end up with an unplanned litter of kittens,” says SPCA New Zealand CEO Andrea Midgen.

An un-desexed kitten sold in a pet shop today could have a litter, possibly two, by the end of the season. When a cat can have four litters of up to eight kittens in just a few months, the problem can escalate very quickly.

“There is certainly not a shortage of cats and kittens looking for homes in New Zealand,” says Ms Midgen.

“We need to work on reducing the number of kittens being born each year and ensuring that every cat in the country is being properly cared for. The SPCA believes every animal sold in a pet shop should be desexed – there is absolutely no need for them to breed when there are already so many animals that need good homes.”

Every animal adopted from the SPCA is behaviour and health-checked, vaccinated, microchipped and desexed, a policy that Ms Midgen says should be adopted any organisation selling or giving away an animal.

The SPCA also spends hundreds of thousands of dollars each year running free and low-cost desexing campaigns across the country.

“Desexing is the single best thing we can do for animal welfare in this country,” says Ms Midgen. “New Zealand has thousands of unwanted and homeless animals – it’s a big problem. We know that by preventing unwanted litters being born, we’re helping to prevent the cycle of animal cruelty.

“But all our efforts are pointless if pet shops continue to sell large numbers of un-desexed animals. They are flooding areas with unwanted pets that are ending up in our Centres. This has to stop.

“We’re asking all pet shops to work with us on this, rather than contributing to the problem.”

 

SPCA NZ appalled at dog's treatment on movie set

20/01/07

This disturbing footage was just leaked from the set of an upcoming Hollywood movie, A Dog's Purpose.

It has horrified us all. The footage shows a German Shepherd being forced into turbulent water during the making of the film. Any animal lover watching this footage can see the dog is absolutely terrified.

Forcing an animal into this situation is absolutely appalling. Animals aren't movie props and should never be treated as such. In this instance, the water is aerated and not as buoyant as normal water. The film crew is incredibly lucky the dog didn't drown.

Here in New Zealand, the SPCA would like to see a Code of Welfare implemented for all animals in the film production industry to ensure they are treated humanely. No animal should ever suffer for ‘entertainment’ and this footage has proved to us that our Government needs to do more to ensure they are being cared for in the way they deserve.

Our policy in relation to the use of animals in film and television is:

SPCA NZ is opposed to the use, confinement or performance of wild or exotic animals for commercial gain and/or human entertainment. The use of domesticated animals for filming is only acceptable if the activity required is not contrary to the animals’ nature, does not cause or permit their suffering or otherwise adversely affect their welfare.

The Society believes that, wherever animals are used in the making of films, advertisements or television programmes, or in the theatre, they must not be caused any suffering nor be portrayed in a manner demeaning to their species. Our organisation does not believe that any animal should be used for live entertainment, whereby its needs are unlikely to be able to be put before those of the production and the audience, and the circumstances of its captivity and the presence of an audience are likely to cause distress or harm.

The Society welcomes the increasing technological advances which make redundant the requirement to use most animals in the creation of film and television productions. Due to the capabilities of computer generation and motion capture, SPCA NZ would question many situations in which it is claimed that live animals need to be used in media productions. The welfare of any animal, especially wild and exotic species, should never be compromised for the sake of entertainment.

Important food safety tips for pet owners at Christmas

19/12/2016 
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The SPCA and Nestlé Purina are reminding pet owners to be extra vigilant about what their pets eat over the Festive season.

It may be unknown that common treats and snacks we humans enjoy as part of our holiday celebration including avocado, macadamia nuts, ham, grapes and raisins can cause internal damage and in serious cases lead to death.

Dr Shalsee Vigeant, SPCA Veterinary Manager is urging pet owners to not share human food and to think twice about leaving food in places that might be easily accessible to pets.

“It’s important to know that ignoring your pet’s pleading faces and smooches is actually in their best interest. Dogs and cats digest and metabolise food differently to humans so what might be perfectly fine for us can be poisonous to them.”

“We have a very simple rule in our house.  Only food specially formulated with the right blend of nutrients is given to our pets and we remind visitors of this when they arrive,” says Dr Vigeant.

Even pet owners who are careful about what they feed their pet need to be aware about the places their pet might find a feast. Handbags, gifts under the tree, food left on tables and in rubbish bags are common places where pets will often steal foods that can make them sick. 

Jessie Gilchrist, who works at SPCA Auckland will be keeping her dog Cody well away from any human food this year.  Last Christmas Cody was hospitalised for 48 hours and on an IV after stealing and indulging in her family's fruit cake. 

“Most people know that chocolate is dangerous for dogs, but there are actually an array of popular festive ingredients that your pet’s bodies are simply not designed to eat. Pets can get into food they're not supposed to eat very quickly, so we have to be extra vigilant at this time of year," says Jessie.

Although Christmas is the season of giving, there are plenty of other ways to spoil your pets.

 “At the SPCA we take Purina One pet food and freeze it or put it into toys so they can gradually extract the food. A walk or games in the garden after a big meal is also a great way to make sure your pet gets the attention they need and to fight your own after-meal lethargy,” says Dr Vigeant.

Please remember: if you think your pet has eaten something dangerous you should immediately call your local vet clinic. 

Ten Foods Unsafe for Pets

  1. Fruit cake or Christmas pudding as the raisins (and grapes) are deadly to cats and dogs. They are toxic to their kidneys and can cause lethargy, excessive thirst, vomiting and in serious cases can be fatal.
  2. Alcohol and coffee are both toxic for dogs.
  3. Avocados contain persin causing vomiting, diarrhoea and heart congestion in dogs.
  4. For cats and dogs, chocolate can cause elevated heart rate, seizures, vomiting and diarrhoea.
  5. Macadamia nuts contain a toxin that can inhibit movement and cause panting, weakness and swollen limbs.
  6. Onions and chives contain disulphides and sulfoxides, which can cause anaemia and damage red blood cells.
  7. Peaches, plums and persimmons and apple pips contain a substance that degrades to cyanide.
  8. Xylitol - a common ingredient in sugarless treats and sugarless gum is dangerous.
  9. Sweet-corn cobs can cause blockages in the small intestine that may need to be removed surgically. Don't let your dog chew on the cob.
  10. Turkey skin, pork crackling, sausages and fatty meats not only add extra calories but can lead to intense pain due to pancreatitis.

Gisborne man jailed after bashing his dog in the head with a hammer and leaving her to die

15/12/16

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A Gisborne man appeared in the Gisborne District Court yesterday accused of bashing his dog in the head three times with a club hammer and then leaving her to die in agony.

James Tuari, 48, pleaded guilty to a charge of wilful ill-treatment of an animal with the result that the pain or distress caused to the animal was so great that it was necessary to destroy the animal in order to end its suffering. He was sentenced to 9 months in prison, disqualified from owning dogs for 10 years, and ordered to pay reparations of $125.30.

The story began on 11 January 2016 when two Animal Control Officers and an SPCA Inspector attended the defendant’s property in Gisborne, following a complaint to the Gisborne District Council about an injured dog.

They found Brownie, a young adult dog, tied up in a small area by the side of the garage. The ground was strewn with rubbish and rags, and there was a blue plastic container containing a small amount of stagnant green water. There was blood on the walls close to where Brownie was tied up.

Brownie was in very thin body condition and had two obvious wounds on the top of her head. Both wounds were full of maggots, indicating that they were not fresh.

The SPCA Inspector took possession of the dog and transported her for an urgent veterinary examination, which revealed that Brownie had two, large holes measuring approximately 50mm by 50mm in her head. One of the holes opened into the cranial vault (the very thin piece of bone covering the back portion of the brain). Both holes contained fly eggs and maggots, which were approximately 0.5cm to 1.0cm long, indicating the wounds were two or three days old.

Brownie was also severely emaciated and extremely dehydrated, and faecal testing revealed she had an extremely high parasite burden.

The veterinarian recommended euthanasia because her prognosis was ‘hopeless’, and because her pain and distress was so great it was necessary to end her suffering. She went on to say that this was one of the most severe and disturbing cases she had seen because the dog had been subjected to two forceful blows to the head, and then been left without clinical treatment for at least two days.

When interviewed the defendant said that he had been told by his brother and a family member to ‘get rid of the dog’. So on 9 January he had hit her on the head three times with a club hammer and she had ‘gone down’. The defendant’s neighbours had heard what he was doing and leant over the fence, at which point the dog had ‘come to’. Even though he knew she was still alive, the defendant left her to die by herself.

“This is sickening cruelty involving extreme violence against a defenceless animal inflicted by someone with complete disregard for the suffering he has caused. It would have to be one of the most disturbing cases of animal cruelty we have seen in 2016,” says Andrea Midgen, SPCA New Zealand CEO (Acting).

“Brownie’s suffering was completely unnecessary. When you have the privilege of owning an animal, it is your responsibility to care for them for their whole life – not just when it suits you. If the defendant could no longer have her at his house, he should have tried to find Brownie a new home. He could have asked his local SPCA for help or advice. There were several steps he could have taken and the fact he jumped immediately to beating her to death is unfathomable.”