A Far North animal rescue group says the SPCA is "letting down" dozens of dogs living in poor conditions at an alleged puppy mill operation near Dargaville.
Animal advocates filmed themselves breaking into the farm on October 10 after becoming concerned for the health and welfare of 96 dogs contained at the dog breeder's property.
The video, which was posted widely on social media, shows dozens of dogs of various breeds, including beagles, golden retrievers, poodles and Maltese, in close confinement behind corrugated iron fencing. Inside their pens they are standing on broken pallets on the floor.
The SPCA say they are still investigating the case, but the Bay of Islands Animal Rescue group say the owners have been given compliance and have been allowed to keep 87 of the dogs.
Police are also investigating following an altercation at the property where the owner allegedly pointed a gun at a person who trespassed on her property.
A police spokesperson said enquiries are ongoing and "there is no update at this stage".
The Northern Advocate has approached the owner for comment but had received none by edition time.
Bay of Islands Animal Rescue group founder Summer Johnson, who visited the property, has obtained six of the dogs, two of which have been passed onto the Saving Hope dog adoption charitable trust in Auckland.
The SPCA uplifted three dogs, she said.
The owners have been allowed to keep the remaining 87 dogs, Johnson said, but claimed they have been told by the SPCA they must sell 15 puppies within a month.
Johnson said the dogs are living in "horrendous" conditions, have health problems from being inbred and are not socialised.
"The dogs aren't getting what they need. Just because they've got food, water and shelter - that's not enough.
"The dogs are unhandled and terrified of everything. These dogs are so withdrawn and broken . . . "
Johnson said she first became aware of the operation six weeks ago.
The animal rescue group took their concerns to the SPCA about puppies being sold from the breeder under multiple listings online.
However, SPCA inspectorate general manager Tracy Phillips said the animal welfare organisation is satisfied with the health and welfare of the remaining dogs at the property.
"For the most part – yes we are," Phillips said.
"I've looked at the video footage and the dogs look pretty healthy to me. They're not hugely skinny, they've got the ability to run around and play with each other.
"They're not being abused; they haven't got visible injuries. I haven't done the vet check but I can assure you the inspector has checked every single animal there."
But Johnson said the group is "mortified" at what they see as lack of action by the SPCA.
"We were working alongside the SPCA to uplift the dogs. The day before they changed their minds and said we could only take four and they'd take three.
"We were getting nowhere so we took action into our own hands so we could expose this to the public so we could shut this woman down. We're trying the absolute best for these animals and the SPCA is letting them down."
Johnson said the four dogs she got had been taken to the vet who found they had fleas and "heavy internal parasite burdens".
They all had dags along with yeast infections in their ears and one will need eye surgery from a breeding deformity.
Johnson said she is seeking advice from an animal behaviourist to assess the dogs' mental states, and expects the results from DNA tests to be back soon.
The dogs would go to experienced foster homes once their health had improved and would ultimately be adopted, she said.
Johnson said nine sheep at the property were also in a "horrendous" state as they hadn't been shorn in several years.
Phillips said she couldn't comment further on the case as it was still under investigation which could take a long time.
Phillips also couldn't say how many dogs were left with the owner, how many the SPCA uplifted or what would be done with them.
"When we get a complaint, we go to an address and we check all the animals. Our normal process is that we work with the owner for the right outcome for animal.
"We can leave animals at an address and there can be a plan to make sure issues are addressed. It's not a short game, it's a long game. I'm not going to say what the specifics are as the subject is the matter of an investigation."
Kaipara District Council has confirmed it is supporting the SPCA with the compliance aspects of the investigation including animal registration and microchipping.
"At this stage the investigation is ongoing, so no further comment can be made," spokesman Ben Hope said.