A celebrated Auckland puppy breeder and her daughter could be jailed for up three years if convicted in a landmark SPCA prosecution involving dozens of rescued animals and nearly 80 charges.
The Herald understands the case is one of the biggest-ever prosecutions undertaken by the SPCA, with estimates it has already cost the not-for-profit charity up to $300,000.
Barbara Glover, 84, and Janine Wallace face a raft of serious Animal Welfare Act charges following a 2018 raid by SPCA investigators on their Volkerson Kennels "puppy farm" near Pokeno.
The charges include reckless ill-treatment, failing to meet animals' physical, health, and behavioural needs, and failure to alleviate pain or distress of ill or injured animals.
Both women deny mistreating animals and are defending the charges.
It's understood SPCA inspectors obtained a search warrant for the raid following a complaint in 2017 from someone who had visited the kennels to purchase a dog.
It's alleged that inspectors found dozens of dogs in squalid conditions.
Some of the animals were reportedly covered in their own faeces, living among old food scraps and urine-soaked newspaper.
The dogs were allegedly kept in pens out the back of the family home.
One breeding bitch was allegedly found tethered with a severed Achilles.
Another animal was reportedly underweight and heavily matted on its back, legs and stomach.
"The matts were thick with faeces, dry mud, and when he had his first bath, the water running off his coat was dark brown," the SPCA posted at the time.
The German Shepherd puppies sell online for thousands of dollars each.
More than 30 puppies, dogs and breeding bitches were taken into SPCA care after the raid.
It's understood each of the rescued animals needed multiple veterinary appointments and vaccinations, with at least one having to be put down.
The SPCA launched a prosecution against Glover and Wallace, laying 79 charges.
The two women were due to go to trial next month
in Manukau District Court. However, the trial has been postponed due to health concerns relating to Glover.
SPCA Inspectorate general manager Tracy Phillips told the Herald she was limited in what she could say about the case, stressing that the defendants were innocent until proven guilty.
"I am aware that there has been significant social media interest in this case and that also there are actual people who are entitled to their privacy and a fair trial."
She confirmed that if convicted, Glover and Wallace could be fined up to $75,000 or jailed for up to three years on the most serious charges.
The Herald has confirmed that despite the looming court case, Volkerson Kennels is still operating.
Phillips said SPCA did not have the power to shut a kennel down.
However SPCA inspectors had worked closely with the kennel since the raid and conditions had improved significantly, Phillips said.
She did not have figures on how much the investigation had cost.
"Suffice to say any prosecution is expensive in vet assessments and ongoing care, inspectors' time and lawyers' costs."
Glover and Wallace referred media inquiries to former police officer and retired private investigator Grace Haden, who told the Herald the two defendants had not abused any animals.
Glover had been repeatedly recognised as the country's top German Shepherd breeder, spending large sums of money importing pedigree blood lines.
The charges were unfair and "inhumane", Haden said. She claimed there were "ulterior motives" for the SPCA raids and animal seizures, but refused to provide evidence.
She also claimed Glover and Wallace had filed their own police complaint about the case.
"The complaint alleges that the animals have been taken for ... either the value of the dogs or value of their genetics," Haden said.
"What's been done to these two ladies is totally over the top."
NZ Dogs director secretary Steven Thompson confirmed that Glover had been recognised over the years for her winning pedigree dogs.
But he declined to comment on the case while it was before the court.
"Canine health and welfare is the highest priority for Dogs NZ and we are co-operating fully with the authorities on this issue."
Puppy breeders did not have to be licensed in this country. But breeders who registered their dogs with Dogs NZ were bound by a breeders code of conduct and could face sanctions for any breaches.
The code set out comprehensive canine health and welfare obligations.
Pedigree papers were only issued for registered litters and puppies, enabling Dogs NZ to track and monitor compliance with the code.
"Dogs NZ does not have any visibility to litters/puppies that have not been registered.
"We continue to urge those looking to purchase a puppy to do thorough background checks on breeders. As a minimum purchasers should ensure they have a sales contract with the kennel and receive pedigree papers."