Forever homes are being sought on lifestyle blocks for rescued goats.
Goat Rescue and Rehoming founder Jen Hyde offers a nationwide rescue operation, including in Northland.
Hyde, who lives in the Waikato, recently found a new home for a Whangārei goat, Bella, which had been left behind by its owners after they had shifted house. The person who was fostering the goat was not set up to offer a permanent home so Hyde's network helped find a new home in the Whangārei area so it will no longer be tethered.
"I always find a home for every goat. Sometimes they need fostering for a while until they get well or receive vet care. I've always got three or four goats waiting to find a home,'' she said.
Hyde uses social media to help her quest to improve the welfare of goats and to educate the public about these highly intelligent and inquisitive animals.
Her love of goats stemmed from having neighbours who had goats left chained up and never checked for adequate food or water.
Their cries of distress each time they became tangled or needed water drove her to venture over the boundary to help the animals.
"Eventually I ended up taking over the animals and realised it was no good complaining about the situation. I decided it was better to get up and do something about it,'' Hyde said.
She has built up almost 4000 followers on her Facebook page and regularly shares news about goats that have come under her care and her triumphs when they have gone to a good home.
"I am very particular about who they go to. I'm always looking for well fenced rural lifestyle blocks with owners who will love these animals as part of their family.
"Goats are highly intelligent animals that need interaction. They need owners who understand their needs and they will be as loving and responsive as a dog,'' she said.
Hyde wants New Zealand to ban the tethering of goats but the Animal Welfare (Goats) Code of Welfare, which was updated in 2018, still allows tethering subject to the animals having access at all times to fully shaded and dry shelter, food, water and they must be inspected at least once every 12 hours.
Tethers used must allow for the animal to be released quickly and goats must not be able to get into the path of vehicles.
"Goats are not roadside lawnmowers. They deserve so much better than that,'' she said.
The reality for these animals was being left on poor quality grass too long and "being forced to eat fodder where they have peed and pooed so they end up with lots of internal parasites".
"I think our laws are rather lax and roadside tethering needs to be banned as it has been in other countries.''
Hyde is contacted by people from all over New Zealand, including council animal control officers and the SPCA for help with animals in quite dire predicaments, including being staked in urban backyards.
"I have people contacting me all the time.''
Agriculture days are another source of mistreated animals.
"Cute little kids grow up and suddenly they are not so cute and their owners don't want to deal with them.''
She raises money to desex bucks so they can also be rehomed.
"I don't rehome full males as they will always just get into trouble. Wethers (castrated males) are very sweet and make great pets,'' she said.
The plight of many of the rescued animals is heartbreaking and they often require a lot of care to recover from malnutrition, parasites and ill health.
She says goats have a reputation for escaping from their enclosures which may be one reason people tethered them in the past.
"Goats will not be escape artists if they have good food and a good owner.''
Hyde says goats are not grazers and need minerals from deeper rooted plants.
"People put them on grass but that's like eating takeaways all the time."
Goats need roughage and coarse, good quality hay and prefer to browse and eat a variety of plants such as shrubs, bushes, trees, hedgerow plants and plant weeds as opposed to pasture although they will still eat grass if that is all that is available.
"Similarly, it's not true that goats will eat anything. Their dietary requirements are actually quite specific. Otherwise they will go looking for it.''
Hyde says young goats can be easily trained to stay within their enclosures "with a bit of a growling" and she recommends an eight-wire fence.
"I've got one little one that is still just small enough to squeeze through the fence to come and greet me but he knows to put himself back in the paddock.''