Despite a drop in animal abuse complaints the severity of cases is on the up and Tauranga SPCA is looking to change its way of reporting complaints to better represent the trend.
Animal welfare inspector Jason Blair said Tauranga SPCA investigated 537 complaints last year. This was less than the 596 reported in 2011 and the 601 in 2010.
But the severity of the offending had increased, Mr Blair said.
"Cases are currently under investigation which would shock most people," he said.
"They have certainly made an impact on SPCA staff who are used to some extent of being exposed to such material and have built a level of resistance."
Mr Blair said the SPCA was looking at changing its method of reporting abuse as currently some "one off" visits, such as a dog in a hot car, were not included in statistics but were a welfare concern. This would also help put local statistics in line with other regions.
Nationally, the SPCA received 13,823 complaints in 2012, compared to 13,089 in 2011.
"With anticipated changes to the Animal Welfare Act we look to be able to take more formal action in cases where there is clearly a welfare concern yet do not, for one reason or another, meet the threshold that should be brought before the court by way of prosecution," he said.
"Animal Welfare is a dynamic issue and as the public's expectations of what is acceptable animal treatment increases, so do the penalties and the powers of animal welfare inspectors when we find non-compliance with the law."
Paw Justice, which fights animal abuse and neglect in New Zealand, plans to launch several animal abuse prevention campaigns this year, including one featuring a song by Papamoa-based singer Tiki Taane. The song will be released in September.