Animal assaults in Whanganui can cause a lot of grief for owners but it often can be difficult to identify the cause, a Whanganui vet says.
Stephanie Konzett was concerned when Dusty the cat did not show up for her breakfast in their Whanganui East home. Their neighbour told the family he had heard a cat crying out.
About 3pm, Dusty reappeared with bloodshot eyes, fur missing around her face and was unable to walk properly.
“She looked terrible, she was panting and heavily breathing, and was scared and dragging her back legs.”
Konzett suspected Dusty had been hit by a car.
“Her whole head was swollen, and she was very sad, and couldn’t meow and wasn’t eating much.”
Further investigation by Whanganui Veterinary Services vet Netta Rousell said Dusty presented as a trauma case with injuries to her hips, pelvis and spine.
None of Dusty’s bones was broken which made it unlikely she was hit by a car. Instead she may have been hurt by someone.
Rousell said vets saw plenty of injured cats from cat fights and from road traffic accidents, or straightforward incidents such as tail-pull injuries where cats got stuck in doors.
Vets weren’t able to always report cases of animal cruelty because at times there could be little proof, and often it might be unclear if the animal had hurt itself by falling or had been purposefully assaulted.
“We’re first-line responders like an ambulance but we’re not the police, we don’t have any power over stopping it.”
Rousell had not observed an increase in a pattern of intentional cruelty towards pets around Whanganui.
“We haven’t seen a pattern but we’re also seeing the whole area and it could be within neighbourhoods.”
Konzett said she’d heard of other instances of cats being harmed in Whanganui East and Aramoho: “It has been going around the neighbourhood that there have been things happening.”
It made Konzett worried about letting Dusty roam around outside at night.
SPCA inspectorate team lead Alex Jones said they had not noticed any increase in deliberate cruelty towards animals in the Whanganui region.
“But we absolutely encourage members of the public to contact us if they are aware of deliberate neglect or cruelty.
“If your pet has been seriously injured, we recommend you take it for immediate veterinary treatment. If you suspect deliberate harm or foul play, we strongly urge owners to report this to SPCA immediately.”
Rousell said getting an animal microchipped offered important protection for pets if they did get hurt and were taken to the vet by a member of the public.
It was also important to be registered with a local vet to allow for after-hours care for an animal if trauma occurred.
Eva de Jong is a reporter for the Whanganui Chronicle covering health stories and general news. She began as a reporter in 2023.