Our cute and cuddly friends made headlines in the past year for good, bad and downright odd reasons.

After years of campaigning from animal rights groups, Parliament passed legislation in May which ruled out the testing of psychoactive drugs on animals for the purpose of getting them approved for sale.

All legal-high products were to be pulled from shop shelves until it could be proven they were safe.

Following advice from the Ministry of Health, Prime Minister John Key said if the product could not be tested other than with animals, then it failed to meet the testing regime and would not be produced.


"It's one thing to test on an animal if you're developing a life-saving drug for cancer - it's quite a different issue for a recreational drug," he said.

On another happy note, many lost pets were returned to their owners.

Heading across the world, a British man was reunited with his beloved African grey parrot Nigel after four years. Little was know about where Nigel got to on his long holiday, but when the bird returned home in October, he was jabbering away in Spanish, the Daily Breeze reported.

Nigel, who originally spoke with a British accent, was reunited with his owner by a vet who mistook him for her own missing bird.

The bird's owner, Darren Chick, said the reunion brought tears of joy to his eyes, even though Nigel tried to bite him.

Back in New Zealand, Lydia Nimmo was also reunited with her pet golden retriever, 10-month-old Max, after he was trapped down a hole for five days on the West Coast.

Volunteers searched high and low across the North Beach bush and beach - and eventually Max was discovered stuck down a 3m deep hole 1km away.

Gisborne SPCA staff were left astounded when a Hastings woman was reunited with her cat after its gruelling four-year-long journey. Six-year-old grey tabby Peanut travelled 200km before finding his owner, Rachael Coleman, in August.


Constable Richard Collier with morepork he almost ran over

Ms Coleman had adopted Peanut from the SPCA in Gisborne while she was working there as a volunteer and when she later moved to Hastings, Peanut went missing. Four years later, he showed up at the Gisborne SPCA grounds, and staff were able to identify him thanks to his micro-chip.

Unusual animal stories also hit the headlines last year.

The owners of a lamb born with two faces were devastated when their very special friend died after just 41 days.

Justine Parker said the lamb, affectionately known as Lambie, Two Face and U2, was much loved by her three daughters Anna, 10, Sarah, 8, and Kate, 6.

Ms Parker said she suspected Lambie had died from a brain bleed.

"He was a strong-willed wee character, so it was just a wee bit sad."

Later in the year, Whakatane woman Jess Wallace was horrified when her 4-year-old bull mastiff Zeta returned home with an arrow through his chest.

The situation was made worse when Ms Wallace found out that a police officer had admitted firing the arrow at Zelda when he wandered on to his property. Under the Animal Welfare Amendment Act 2010, it is an offence to willfully or recklessly ill-treat an animal.

The officer was not stood down but criminal and employment investigations were to be conducted, the police said.

Ms Wallace said Zelda had made a full recovery.

Meanwhile, another police officer rescued a baby morepork from the side of the road in stormy weather - all in the line of duty.

Constable Richard Collier almost ran over the morepork while on his way to an ATM machine through treacherous weather in Chartwell, Hamilton.

He got out of his car and rescued the bird, which he said was likely to have been blown from its perch in the storm. He made a bed for the muddled morepork at the Hamilton police station, before the Department of Conservation bird service collected it the next day.

Finally, in 2014 we were reminded that animals are not always man's best friend, when a berserk cow trampled its owner in the Bay of Plenty.

Wayne Rowe, 50, was ear-tagging the cow in a paddock in Opotiki when it turned on him, inflicting serious injuries.

Mr Rowe was airlifted to hospital with chest injuries, and discharged the next day.

He said he believed the cow was trying to protect her calves -- but there was no love lost between the pair. As soon as she had finished feeding the calves, he said, she was off to the meatworks.