SPCA's Annual List of Shame Mirrors New Zealand's Violent Society

Monday 5 November 2012, 9:58AM
By Royal New Zealand SPCA

A family cat deliberately cut up in Timaru, a tethered pet goat stabbed to death in Greymouth, a climbing carabiner threaded through the neck of a dog in Rotorua, and in Wellington, several boys kick and hit a small terrier cross dog with a cricket bat.  These are just four of more than thirty grievously inhumane acts of abuse and neglect of animals that make up the 2012 SPCA List of Shame.

“Violence towards animals both co-occurs and is a predictor of violence towards humans”, says Robyn Kippenberger, National Chief Executive of the Royal New Zealand SPCA.  “The sheer level of violence meted out on animals by some of the perpetrators in the cases in this year’s List of Shame is shocking, and underlying of wider issues in New Zealand.”

The Royal New Zealand SPCA, in partnership with Women’s Refuge, recently released research into the strong link between animal cruelty and domestic and family violence in New Zealand.  This study, ‘Pets as Pawns’, showed that 50% of women interviewed had witnessed animal cruelty as part of their experience of domestic violence and 25% said their children had witnessed violence against animals.  The research also revealed that one in three women surveyed reported delaying leaving violent relationships because they feared their pets and other animals would be killed or tortured.

The SPCA speaks for those who cannot speak for themselves and the annual SPCA List of Shame aims to highlight to the New Zealand public the appalling abuse of animals which happens all too frequently throughout the country.

Unfortunately cases such as those in the this year’s list of shame are all too familiar to SPCA centres around New Zealand, who are then tasked with the heartbreaking job of determining whether the animals in question are able to be rehabilitated or have to be euthanased due to their abuse or neglect.  In many cases, the financial cost of investigating and prosecuting the perpetrators is also met by these SPCA centres.

July saw the prosecution of two men who had systematically shot 33 dogs and puppies.  This was a particularly violent and prolonged act of cruelty which resulted in many of the dogs dying a slow painful death, whilst others struggled to hide from the shooters.   These men were handed sentences of 6 months home detention and 6 months community detention, 300 hours community work and reparation.

“The SPCA’s work is made less effective by the low level of sentencing being awarded in animal welfare cases.  The sentencing in most of these cases is appallingly inadequate, and is no way indicative of the range of penalties that can be handed down under the Animal Welfare Amendment Act”, says Robyn Kippenberger.  “Considering the close links between violence towards humans and animal cruelty, courts should be recognising these crimes as significant in a continuum of violent behaviour.  If these crimes are not punished significantly, an opportunity is lost to send a message that no violence is acceptable.”

The SPCA’s work is almost entirely funded by donations, sponsorships and legacies provided by generous New Zealanders.  New Zealanders are encouraged to support their SPCAs to make New Zealand a safer place for animals and humans.

The SPCA's Annual Appeal Week takes place this year between Monday 5th November and Sunday 11th November. Please give generously to collectors in your area, make a donation at any ASB bank branch, or make an automatic $20 donation to the SPCA's fight against animal cruelty by calling 0900 4PAWS (0900 4 7297).

“People speak sometimes about the "bestial" cruelty of man, but that is terribly unjust and offensive to beasts, no animal could ever be so cruel as a man, so artfully, so artistically cruel.” - Fyodor Dostoyevsky, 19th Century Russian novelist, journalist, and short-story writer.

(October 2011-September 2012)

• In Woodville, Palmerston North a husband and wife kept 161 cats and 87 dogs in extreme circumstances. The dogs were kennelled and confined. Because of their vast number, it was impossible to believe that any had adequate exercise, or socialisation. The cats were living in filthy conditions with overflowing litter trays and unclean food and water. Around half of the animals were euthanased as a result of their neglect. The Woodville couple were sentenced in what has been described as New Zealand’s worst case of animal neglect, were fined and were disqualified from owning or exercising authority over any cats, dogs, puppies or kittens for the next 25 years. This case was first brought to court in March 2007 and sentencing finally completed in June 2012 with a cost to the SPCA National Support office of over $50,000, in excess of the cost of trial.

• In Wellsford two men shot 33 dogs and puppies one by one. Some of the dogs died a slow painful death, whilst others struggled to hide from the shooters. This was an horrendous situation for the animals and many of the dogs howled in extreme pain and agony. The men were handed sentences of 6 months home detention and 6 months community detention, 300 hours community work and reparation.

• A 20 year old Kaikoura man who bludgeoned to death 25 seals, including newborns pups, with a metal pipe and left several to die painfully has had his sentence overturned in the Blenheim District Court. The original sentencing was a two year jail penalty but the man was released on an eight month home detention when the man’s lawyer argued the punishment was excessive. This was terrible violence towards a large number of animals left to die over a period of several days.

• A 40 year old Waikino Farmer has been convicted over the ill treatment of dairy cows. The man was sentenced to 10 months home detention for breaking 115 of the 135 herd cow’s tails and hitting them on the hind legs with a steel pipe causing broken legs and swollen and infected joints in a number of the cows. The animals suffered obvious signs of physical injuries and were in severe distress. 25 of the 135 dairy cow herd on the property were euthanased due to the serious pain and distress they were in.

• In South Auckland an emaciated puppy was dumped in a box at the end of a drive way in Manurewa. The puppy was unable to stand or walk and the puppy’s bones could be seenthrough its skin. The age of the dog was not determined due to the severe case of malnourishment. The person responsible has not been found.

• At Great Barrier Island – 2 dogs were found in the bush chained to dilapidated kennels and left to die after a “tip off” from a member of the public. Both dogs had not been fed for weeks. One was euthanased and “Cassie” the surviving dog is a two year old pointer cross.
It was a close call but 21 days later she was like a different dog. The owner from Great Barrier was banned from owning a dog for 8 years, sentenced to 100 hours of community work and ordered to pay a fine.

• In Te Kuiti a man was investigated after neighbours complained of 15 feral goats and 2 dozen poultry were kept on his property without adequate food and water. Three of the goats, a nanny goat and her two kids were shut in the chicken coop. The man was holding the animals for slaughter for a religious day. All but two of the goats were euthanased.

• In Te Atatu, Auckland a 3 year old silver tabby was found outside an archery club with an arrow that had been fired into his head which went through the back of the head and out near its eye with the arrow still protruding when found. The cat had also been shot with slug gun pellets. The wounds were old and had become infected. An investigation is being carried out by the SPCA.

• In Timaru a beloved family cat was found deliberately cut up outside her Waimataitai home. The 17 year old cat was found nearby a beheaded hedgehog. Police considered the case as being premeditated and sadistic. The maximum penalty for charges of cruelty or ill-treatment of animals was three years in prison or a $50,000 fine.

• A Waitara man used who his backyard as a feline cemetery has been banned from owning an animal for 5 years. The man used a wood and wire trap to catch the cats as a “hobby” then put them into a sack and immersed them in a rubbish bin full of water until they drowned.

• A Christchurch man is facing an animal cruelty charge after allegedly feeding his 9 year German Shepherd chicken and insecticide. He had decided to put the dog down after the dog bit his grandson.

• In Hamilton, a farmer faces charges after filming his dogs being set on captive pigs in a pen on his farm. The man also filmed himself holding a captive boar by its back legs as the dogs attacked it for a period of time before it was eventually killed.

• At Te Waewae Bay, west of Invercargill two men have been fined – (one man who already had a conviction for previous animal cruelty) for throwing rocks the size of a fist at a protected Leopard Seal on the head. The seal appeared to lose consciousness then it was dragged down the beach while the men posed for pictures beside it.

• In Dannevirke a man was found guilty and fined of 2 charges of trapping and painting Harrier Hawks then releasing them. Any material such as paint that is placed on the feathers of a bird will affect the bird’s ability to regulate their temperature and if the paint is toxic this can be ingested by the bird when preening which would result in significant distress and health effects of the bird.

• A Christchurch man was found guilty after throwing a Jack Russell puppy outside injuring it, then striking it over the head with an axe. The puppy would have suffered significantly. The man was banned from owning an animal for 10 years and ordered to serve 4 months home detention and another 6 months with special conditions imposed. However, there are other family member’s pets on the premises.

• A woman in Kati Kati was sentenced to 75 hours community work and banned from owning any domestic animal for 5 years after her 10 year old cat was attacked by a neighbor’s dog and the owner failed to seek veterinary attention. The cat had suffered for months and an x-ray revealed the cat had a broken femur and broken hip. The cat was euthanased due to the extent of its injuries.

• At Lake Dunstan a litter of nine 5 week old puppies were dumped in a rubbish bin on a scorching hot day. The woman who found the pups handed them into a local vet and then onto the SPCA. After extensive searches for the owners the SPCA now believe that this was made up by the woman wanting to dispose of the pups. This was a huge waste of SPCA time, finances and resources, but due to the media publicity the pups found homes.

• A Whakatane couple picked up a dog that was close to death on the side of the road. It was in huge distress and the ribs of emaciated dog were evident and it appeared the dog had head injuries. She couldn’t stand and was shaking violently. A council dog ranger recognized the dog and the matter is now in the hands of the Police and the SPCA.

• A property in Waitati, Dunedin was described as a death camp for chickens. Most of them were dying as a result of starvation. Six days later another complaint was laid on another property in the region owned by the same man that was housing over 100 dead and dying hens. The court convicted and sentenced the man to 5 months and 3 months home detention and reparation.

• In Westport a man tried to strangle and bash a pet goat after losing his house keys. The man was sentenced to 4 months community detention and 200 hours of community work

• In Queenstown five 18 year old teens from Rangiora were arrested on animal cruelty charges after a live turkey was allegedly attached to the back of a Ute with tape and driven through Queenstown.

• A man who left his dog for dead in Mangatangi, South of Auckland after it swallowed a skewer that pierced its stomach, has been sentenced to 300 hours community work and ordered to pay reparation. The vet concluded the dog would have endured significant pain and suffering over an extended period.

• In Dunedin 7 newborn pups were left in a carton to die in the cold. They were less than two days old. A member of the public found them and handed them into the SPCA.

• A West Coast Farmer has been sentenced to 350 hours of community service after 60 cattle were found dead and dying. Another 1300 other cattle were found in varying conditions, 65 needed to be euthanased.

• Trooper, a young puppy that had its ears severed and featured in our last year’s list of shame has been happily re-homed. A Tauranga man has been found guilty of failing to get veterinary care and was convicted and sentenced to 100 hours of community work.

• A Dunedin farm worker has been sentenced to 120 hours of community work, 4.5 months home detention, reparation costs, and disqualified from owning or having authority over animals for 2 years. The man hit the calf with a steel pipe in the face. The calf was blinded and in such severe pain it was euthanased.

• A man from Howick, Auckland is facing charges for neglecting an Airedale Terrier. The Terrier was found lying in the garden, severely weak, dehydrated and unable to walk with both eyes infected and a large ruptured tumor on the ear. The dog had to be euthanased.

• A young boy saved the life of a small terrier cross in Porirua, Wellington. The dog was being held down by several boys and was being subjected to kicking by each boy; one boy was hitting the dog with a cricket bat. Charges were unable to be laid due to the ages of the boys. The dog suffered severe bruising and trauma.

• In Glendene, West Auckland an emaciated dog was found bleeding from her ears, with an eye infection and was locked up in a faeces filled garage. The owner was sentenced, fined and was disqualified from owning dogs for 2 years.

• In Rotorua the owner of a Shar Pei cross threaded a climbing carabiner through the neck of the dog, a chain was clipped to this and then attached to the dog’s kennel. The owner also claimed he took it for walks like this. This led to a major infection, and unfortunately the dog had extreme food aggression also, leading to the dog having to be euthanased. The owner was prosecuted, fined and disqualified from owning a dog for a year.

• In Wellington a cat was dumped by its owners next to a rubbish skip, (where she may have been thrown in with the rubbish) instead of walking the extra 20 metres to the SPCA. The cat was left in the rain and went unnoticed for several hours. The cat was traumatised and had been left without any shelter or food.

• In Rongotea a prominent farmer was fined $6,500 for failing to prevent suffering and failing to ensure the health and behavioral needs of sheep on his property. He was ordered to pay vet expenses and legal fees.

• In Greymouth 3 teenagers are facing charges of animal cruelty after stabbing a pet goat on impulse. One man held the animal and the other stabbed it in the neck, causing it to stagger around bleating in pain and bleeding profusely. One man has been sentenced to community work for his part and the other two are facing charges. The teenagers act was seen by a woman out walking. One of the men has said he is an animal lover.

• In Rotorua, a woman is convicted of reckless ill treatment after failing to seek vet care for her dog. The three year old bull mastiff cross was left with 100% mange all over his body and ulcerated corneas. His owner received 100 hours of community work, reparation and banned from owning a dog for five years.