Emaciated dogs have been uplifted from a Ruatoria property after visitors discovered them tied up next to the decomposing body of another dog.
Some of the dogs were secured with less than 30cm of chain, giving them room only to stand or lie down.
Resident Kelsi Napier was "disgusted" and "shocked" on Thursday when she and a friend discovered the dogs and a foal, surrounded by rubbish and badly malnourished.
She said she reported concerns about the animals to the Gisborne SPCA several times over two to four months, but nothing was done until Thursday, when animal control was contacted.
But Gisborne SPCA manager Robyn Toon said the first the SPCA heard of the matter was the day animal control stepped in, and she was not aware of the earlier calls Napier said she made.
Animal control rescued the dogs on Thursday, but it is not known whether the foal, which Napier said was confined in a carport and suffering infected cuts on its legs, has been taken as well.
Napier and her friend went to the property to check on the dogs and discovered how malnourished they had become. While taking photos of their conditions, she realised one dog, tied next to two others, was dead, and partially decomposed. She believed it had been there for a couple of weeks.
"The worst part about it is there is half a bag of dog food sitting on the porch in the rain."
A bowl of water was sitting out of reach of the dogs, she said.
The owner was out of town at the time. Napier became involved with her earlier in the year, trying to help her out on the farm.
She had tried several times to give the owner help and advice caring for her animals, but with no luck. Two dogs and a mare have died at the property in the last few months due to neglect, Napier said.
Another person at one point dropped off a pack of meat for the owner to give to the dogs, but a week later returned to find the meat in the same place he'd left it.
Napier said that was the first time she contacted the SPCA, and contacted them again just before the mare died. Napier called again three times about the foal.
She said she was "absolutely livid" when she discovered the state of the animals on Thursday. She took photos and posted them on the New Lives Animal Rescue Facebook page, asking for help.
Napier said animals were constantly mistreated and neglected in the area.
"Animals don't have rights on the coast," she said.
New Lives Animal Rescue founder Donna Young criticised the SPCA, saying they were made aware of the situation and did nothing.
She said she was told the inspector was prevented from going to pick up the dogs, as they were too far away. Toon said the SPCA dispatched their inspector on Thursday as soon as the case came to their attention.
Young said the case wasn't an isolated incident.
"That's why I'm really passionate about getting to the bottom of it . . . they've really let these animals down.
"We need to hold the organisations that let these animals down, we need to hold them accountable and we need to do something about it. I don't know what we can do but something needs to happen."
She was told the SPCA would not prosecute the owner because animal control taking the dogs had messed with the evidence, but Toon said that was untrue.
Toon could not comment on whether or not there would be a prosecution.
SPCA chief executive Andrea Midgen said prosecuting the owner of the animals would be difficult, as prosecution followed procedures "like a police investigation".
"We need photos in situ; photos of the conditions; the body and condition of the dogs; then we would have them assessed with an independent vet report."
She added that photos needed to be time stamped to be used as evidence.
She confirmed she would be in contact with SPCA's Gisborne branch to find out why the incident was allegedly not responded to.
A police spokeswoman said Gisborne Police are not dealing with the matter as the Gisborne City Council animal control branch are handling it.
Napier is worried there will be no prosecution over the neglect.
"She can't get away with treating animals like this . . . that's the bit that I think makes me more angry, the fact that someone gets away with doing this."