Tight fisted dog owners slammed by SPCA

Starving calves and stingy puppy owners not willing to fork out for the appropriate food are the most concerning cases facing Hawke's Bay animal welfare inspectors.

Central Hawke's Bay SPCA received an average of two animal welfare complaints a week, centre manager and inspector Renee Hickey said.

The branch received 119 animal welfare complaints last year, none of which resulted in prosecution.

A recent spate of farmers leaving calves to die stood out, Ms Hickey said.

"That's horrible for me. They [the offending farmers] don't care really, it's just a calf."

Ms Hickey said the most common offence staff were dealing with was puppies not being fed properly.

"People don't want to spend the extra money to buy puppy food.

"We had one that came in just recently with really deformed front legs from poor nutrition."

Many pet owners didn't understand that puppies needed a specific diet, Ms Hickey said.

The deformed puppy had to be put down because it couldn't stand up straight, she said.

"That was pretty sad."

Nationally, SPCA inspectors received 13,089 animal welfare complaints last year, 37 of which resulted in prosecution.

Recent national cases of animal cruelty and neglect include:

A 13-year-old Whangarei Boys' High School student who ripped the head off a duckling last month then threw rocks at the duck's mother until it died.

A West Coast farmer who was sentenced last week after 60 cattle were found dead and dying. None could be saved.

And a Waikato hunter who filmed two young pig dogs attacking and chewing on a live pig, which was captive in an overgrown backyard pen in Waikato earlier this year.

The Royal New Zealand Society for the Protection of Animals can only act on cases following tip offs from the public, chief executive Robyn Kippenberger said.

The frequency of complaints varied depending on people's vigilance.

"Basically we don't go out and trawl the streets to find animal abuse cases. Generally it's somebody who saw something on a farm, or it's somebody who's noticed something from the road, or it's someone who's picked up an animal.

"It does depend very much on what the public are giving us."

Ms Kippenberger said MAF, which was responsible for farms, received about 500 complaints a year, but generally prosecuted less than 20.

"The bar for them is a lot higher, it's got to go through MAF legal and if MAF legal don't think they're going to win the case then they won't proceed with it."

SPCA was successful in nearly all the prosecutions it took, Ms Kippenberger said.

However, court cases were resource heavy - big cases could take up to six years to get a successful conviction.

A study commissioned by the SPCA in partnership with Women's Refuge showed that one in three women delayed leaving violent relationships because they feared their pets and other animals would be killed or tortured. Of those, one quarter said their children had witnessed violence against animals.

Research also shows a link between cruelty to animals and violence against humans in later life.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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