The SPCA has released its annual List of Shame, this year topped by two elderly poodles that an inspector said were neglected to the point where they no longer looked like dogs.
The list details 15 of the worst cases of animal abuse and neglect seen by the SPCA over the last 12 months, including German shepherds rescued from an "abhorrent" puppy mill, a kitten left to die in a rubbish bin, and the chronic neglect of a pony that was unable to stand and assessed as being at the highest end of recognised pain scales.
"The List of Shame will shock you," chief executive Andrea Midgen said.
"Last year was a particularly cruel year for some of New Zealand's animals, SPCA inspectors seeing many cases of intense neglect and extreme violence towards animals.
"The SPCA annual appeal (March 8-10) is our biggest fundraising event of the year, which is why it's so important for the public to get onboard and help put an end to animal cruelty in our country."
Each year the SPCA spent more than $9 million running its inspectorate, including rescuing animals and prosecuting offenders. It was the only charity in New Zealand with the legal powers to help animals in need and to prosecute.
"The SPCA receives less than one per cent in government funding to run the inspectorate, which is why any donation, no matter how small, makes a huge difference to ensuring we recruit enough inspectors to protect the lives of animals in need," she added.
Fronting this year's appeal were Daisy and Lola, two elderly poodle crosses that were found with their coats matted and overgrown. They should have been groomed every six to eight weeks, but had been neglected for almost two years.
"When we found the sisters we couldn't believe the neglect that had taken place — they didn't even look like dogs," inspector Kelly King said.
"Both were suffering with arthritis, extensive dental disease, were deaf from multiple ear infections, and were nearly blind. It took six nurses and vets an hour to remove the matted fur from each dog."
The pair had since been adopted together and were flourishing in their new home.
Also on the list was 55-year-old Whangārei woman Iris Riki, who was sentenced to community work and banned from owning dogs for three years after her Neapolitan mastiff cross, Goliath, was found emaciated, with protruding ribs, vertebrae, pelvic bones, and a loss of muscle mass.
Riki was convicted of failing to ensure the physical health and behavioural needs of an animal were being met, and was sentenced to 150 hours' community work. She was also ordered to pay $782.70 in reparation and $300 court costs, and was disqualified from owning dogs for three years.
SPCA inspectors had visited her property and found Goliath chained to a running wire, with a picnic table tilted on its side for shelter and no access to water.
He was thin, with hair loss over all four legs and fly-bitten ears.
Riki was advised that the dog had lost too much weight and to provide him with adequate shelter and treatment for his skin. At a second follow-up visit inspectors found the dog tangled around his running wire, unable to reach his shelter. He had lost a significant amount of weight, and an eye appeared to be infected.
After a year in SPCA's care, he developed several malignant tumours and was euthanased.
Donations to the appeal can be made to street collectors, or at www.spca.nz/AnnualAppeal2019