An SPCA boss disgusted by how many dogs are starving in her patch will tomorrow begin a three-day hunger strike.
Francine Shields, manager and chief inspector of Whangarei SPCA, decided to go without food after her office was called to seven dog starvation cases last month. One dog died, another had to be put down and four were being rehabilitated.
They frequently saw thin dogs, but starvation cases usually averaged one or two a month, Shields said.
"Last month was horrendous. I've got to the point where I don't know what else we do to raise awareness and stop it happening." She has been with the SPCA for 23 years.
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Dogs were vulnerable to starvation as they could be abandoned when tied up, she said.
The 46-year-old will consume only water for three days and continue to work.
"It won't be easy but I'm doing this by choice and I know I can eat at the end of it. These dogs don't have a choice. It's so disheartening to see such unnecessary suffering."
She hopes her efforts will encourage people to report cases of abuse or neglect, or to seek help if they are struggling to care for their animals properly.
"I want to do something that will draw attention to any other dogs that are tied up somewhere, slowly starving to death. I want to put my hand up and ask the people in our community to help us stop it from happening again.
"[The SPCA] can't be everywhere at once so we need neighbours, friends and family to report cases of neglect and abuse to us. We know it takes courage because people who abuse pets are likely to abuse people too - but the alternative could be letting an animal die."
SPCA chief executive Ric Odom said animal starvation was not uncommon but many more cases would occur than those reported to the organisation.