A man whose 33 dogs were allegedly shot by two neighbours four months ago has not been able to return to his property since because it has "too many bad memories".

Rowan Hargreaves yesterday came face to face, for the first time since the incident, with Russell Mendoza and Tony Campbell as they appeared in the Warkworth District Court, north of Auckland.

They are charged with wilful ill-treatment of an animal, and other charges of ill-treatment of an animal laid by the SPCA under the Animal Welfare Act.

The charges, which carry a maximum sentence of three years' imprisonment, were laid after the SPCA said seven of the dogs died a slow and painful death after allegedly being shot with a shotgun and a .22 calibre rifle on Mr Hargreaves' 5ha block in an old quarry in Wellsford, north of Warkworth, on January 25.

The feud started when Mr Mendoza, who runs Home & Garden Wellsford with his wife, discovered his fox terrier Otis dead and blamed one or more of Mr Hargreaves' dogs.

The two accused also face charges of reckless use of a firearm, an offence which has penalties of up to three years in prison, a $4000 fine or both.

Mendoza also faces a charge of possession of a firearm without a licence, for which the maximum penalty is three months' imprisonment, a $1000 fine or both.

Lawyers for the pair said yesterday they had elected to be tried by jury. Judge Barbara Morris remanded them on bail until May 25 for a pre-committal hearing in the North Shore District Court.

Mr Hargreaves, who stood outside the court - supported by colleague Richard Hawkings who witnessed the shootings - said he was looking forward to the trial because "the truth would come out".

"They took out an entire family of dogs. We are standing in front of them, we're not walking away."

He said Wellsford was divided into two groups - people that supported him and Mr Hawkings and supporters of the alleged shooters.

Mr Hargreaves saved eight puppies from what the SPCA called a "scene not unlike a massacre".

But he revealed yesterday that only one of the dogs - named Chicken because he likes eating poultry - is still alive. The others were unable to cope without their mothers and refused to feed.

Chicken was only a few days old and sleeping in an old van with her mother and father and three siblings when the parents were shot.

Mr Hargreaves has been living at his mechanic workshop with Chicken since the incident.

Media were allowed to take pictures of the accused in court yesterday provided the men's faces were obscured.