SPCA: A labour of love and sorrow

By Siobhan Leathley

Duties at Auckland's SPCA can sometimes be emotionally testing for soft-hearted helpers.

Auckland SPCA volunteer Liz Holdcroft gets down to earth with her miniature dachshund Gem. Photo / Sarah Ivey
Auckland SPCA volunteer Liz Holdcroft gets down to earth with her miniature dachshund Gem. Photo / Sarah Ivey

Liz Holdcroft says the 19 years she's spent at the SPCA have been bittersweet - she's loved and cared for many animals, but has seen many go into the veterinarian centre and not come out again.

She spent three days each week volunteering in the laundry, and although she was not responsible for caring for the animals the room was next to the vet.

She said it was always heartbreaking to see an animal go in, but not come out again.

"You know they've not made it."

The SPCA's dog and puppies manager, Ashley Phipps, agreed that there was a darker, more emotional side to working for the organisation.

She had seen a lot of animals cruelly mistreated by their owners, before being rescued by the SPCA.

She said one of the worst experiences was a puppy, Wookies, brought to the SPCA in early August.

"He was a bag of bones," she said.

"He was uplifted and brought in because he was so thin and living in dirty conditions."

During his first week with the organisation he gained 4kg, and had continued to gain weight.

His confidence had improved and two families were interested in adopting him.

Mrs Holdcroft said different people had different reasons for surrendering their animals to the SPCA, and sometimes they had no other choice.

"Sometimes people get old and they have to go into a home and cannot take their animals with them."

Mrs Holdcroft said she often enjoyed her work in the laundry because she was able to "throw on a load" and then go to visit the animals.

"It's great. You can hug a rat if you want to, I was quite sad when my little mate [a rat] was adopted out."

She said she had made many friends during her time there. The SPCA had a very positive atmosphere in which people would fit in regardless of their age, gender or nationality as long as they loved animals.

"These people are fabulous, they're your mates whom you can have a giggle or a laugh with; sometimes it's sad but I love it."

Animals have always been a large part of her life; she said she started bringing stray cats and dogs home as a child and she had not stopped since.

She originally started by fostering cats and kittens, because she already had dogs of her own at home.

"I've done the nightly bottle feeds to baby kittens when their eyes are still closed. Just like a real baby."

Two years ago, she adopted her dog, Gem, and one of the benefits was that she could bring Gem to work.

"One of my happiest memories was being told I could take her home with me."

Mrs Holdcroft plans to stay with the SPCA - "I've still got a lot of love to give and I don't intend on finishing yet."

Adopt Me
Today the Herald starts its Adopt Me series. For the next three weeks, we will be profiling animals that need a home.

- NZ Herald

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