Two men who shot 33 dogs near Wellsford north of Auckland in January will now face firearms charges as well as animal cruelty charges laid by the SPCA.

Wellsford police said today they had charged two men with firearms offences and if found guilty they could face up to three years in prison, a $4000 fine, or both.

One of the men, a 47 year old, was also charged with possession of a firearm without a licence.

Both are due to appear in Warkworth District Court on May 4.

Earlier this month the men were charged with animal cruelty offences by the SPCA.

Those charges were laid under the Animal Welfare Act. They carry a maximum sentence of three years jail.

After the incident the SPCA said seven of the dogs died a slow and painful death when they were shot after a row between the dogs' owner Rowan Hargreaves and a neighbour who claimed the dogs killed his pet dog.

The two men allegedly shot the dogs with a shotgun and a .22 calibre rifle.

SPCA chief executive Bob Kerridge said animal inspectors who had studied the bodies of the dogs were in no doubt at least seven died a lingering and painful death and "quite clearly suffered."

- NZPA