The SPCA has chronicled the worst cases of animal abuse in the past year in their annual List of Shame.
Chief executive Ric Odom said he hoped the list would open eyes to the way some animals were treated.
"It's not about making people feel sick with what they read, it's about saying 'this is what goes on, this is what happens to animals," he said.
Whangarei man Joshua Heka topped the list for filming himself mutilating possums by nailing them to trees and chopping off their limbs.
He received the harshest penalty for animal cruelty handed down this year, of imprisonment for two years and four months.
Mr Odom said people who harmed animals did so for different reasons.
"One is the person who just seems to be inclined to want to hurt things and hurts animals. That's a bit of a concern because we know that there's also a link between cruelty to animals and cruelty to people.
"The other are people that get caught up in the moment, often with a group around them. People do things that they wouldn't dream of doing if they were just by themselves.
"The other category is people that just don't know. I don't think they see themselves as being deliberately neglectful or cruel, but the common sense thing just goes out the window."
He said the latter group often result in animals being brought to the SPCA emaciated or with injuries that hadn't be treated.
Mr Odom said cases of neglect and cruelty were often reported by members of the public to SPCA, found by inspectors or referred to SPCA from the police.
While it was unlikely that cases of cruelty would ever stop, he thought people were becoming more aware of the welfare of animals.
"Our sense is more and more people are taking a much greater interest in the welfare of animals."
The release of the List of Shame coincides with the annual SPCA appeal week.
It costs the SPCA more than $8 million to have 90 animal inspectors around the country who attend 13,000 complaints each year.
Their work is almost entirely funded by donations, sponsorships and legacies of generous New Zealanders.
"We are enormously grateful to those individuals, groups and organisations. Without their support, we simply could not do the work we do," Mr Odom said.
The appeal runs from November 3 to November 9 and donations can be made at ASB Bank, online or by giving to street collectors on Friday.
Top five on the List of Shame:
1. Joshua Heka filmed himself mutilating and taunting a number of possums before decapitating them or bludgeoning them to death. He was imprisoned for two years and four months.
2. A Tauranga man charged with ill-treating a puppy was fined $1,500, disqualified from owning animals for five years and ordered to pay reparations of $401.89. The puppy suffered a deep puncture wound to the top of the head, and dental and cheek fractures in a prolonged beating.
3. A kitten was found in a tied up plastic bag at Whangarei's Mair Park. The kitten was still alive, but had such bad deformities in his two front legs he had to be euthanased on humane grounds. The person or persons responsible have not been found.
4. A Canterbury farmer was imprisoned for four months and ordered to pay reparations of $676.80 after he struck two pigs with a metal pole when he became angry. When another pig tried to escape from the holding yard, he chased it for some time and then ran over its head with a quad bike.
5. A Whangarei man charged with ill treating his dog was sentenced to 125 hours of community work, disqualified from owning animals for three years and ordered to pay reparations of $420. His dog was very thin and had major hair loss over most of its body because of mange which had been left untreated.