Dog and puppy abuse cases rise in Canterbury

SPCA concerned at increase in dog and puppy abuse

Since January 2015 the Canterbury SPCA has experienced a 53% increase in dog welfare complaints involving serious issues such as abandonment, neglect and cruelty. “The numbers are staggering and our staff are struggling to keep up with the increased demand on our service,” says Barry Helem, Chief Executive Officer for SPCA Canterbury.

Mr Helem confirmed that over half of all animal welfare complaints received by the Canterbury SPCA were related to dog and puppy abuse or abandonment. This is causing a bottleneck of canine residents requiring care and treatment before they can be made available for adoption.

In the past six months SPCA Inspectors have dealt with three separate investigations involving the ill-treatment of dogs, all of which had badly broken limbs. In two of these cases the dogs had to have their legs amputated and the third was humanely euthanased due to the severity of its injuries.

Another investigation found three dogs together in one kennel and run; one dog had starved to death and had been eaten by the other two dogs. The two remaining dogs, [one near death], were suffering from starvation and were euthanased.

“Unfortunately these types of atrocities against animals are becoming all too common throughout Canterbury,” says David Barbour, Inspectorate Manager for SPCA Canterbury. “The deaths of these dogs could have been prevented if the owners had acted responsibly.”

Mr Helem sited a lack of empathy, financial strain, limited pet-friendly accommodation, and an increase in community awareness, as possible contributing factors for a rise in crimes against animals being reported throughout Canterbury.

“Regardless of the reason though, there is simply no excuse to stop caring for your pets. If you are struggling to meet the needs of your animals you must seek advice and support before the situation gets out of control” says Barry. There are many agencies available to assist pet owners including the Canterbury SPCA, other animal welfare groups, such as Dogwatch, and Christchurch City Council Animal Management.

In addition to processing and preparing prosecution files for pending court cases, the priority for the SPCA is to rehome as many dogs and puppies as possible so they can continue to take in neglected animals.

Over the next month the SPCA Animal Centre in Hornby will have more than 30 puppies and 20 dogs seeking new homes. Most of the puppies brought to the shelter had been abandoned, some as young as two weeks old.

“The cost and resource required to care for such young puppies and sick or injured dogs is immense. We spend thousands of dollars to treat these animals and receive no profit from adoption fees. Our main concern is in finding loving ‘forever homes’ for each animal.”

SPCA Canterbury adoption fees are $220 for an adult dog and $250 for a puppy. All dogs and puppies receive health and temperament checks, flea and worm treatments, are vaccinated, desexed and microchipped. If you can give an animal a new home the SPCA Animal Centre on Wilmers Road is open from 10am, Monday to Sunday. You can also view their available adoptees via their Facebook page or website,

To help prevent the rising tide of complaints the SPCA, in conjunction with Christchurch City Council Animal Management, plan to hold their third “Dog Welfare Clinic” for financially struggling pet owners in October.  This clinic will provide free advice and microchipping, together with discounted desexing vouchers and flea and worm treatments. Pet owners are being advised to keep an eye on the Canterbury SPCA website and Facebook page for details regarding this event.

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For more information contact:

Barry Helem
Chief Executive Officer
SPCA Canterbury
Ph: 027 479 3513

About SPCA Canterbury

SPCA Canterbury has been dedicated to caring for all animals throughout the Canterbury region for over 140 years. They are the oldest established branch of the RSPCA in New Zealand.

Their core purpose is to prevent the cruelty and suffering of animals through education and enforcement.

Each year SPCA Canterbury rescue, rehabilitate and rehome over 2500 lost, sick, injured, abused and abandoned animals. The cost of operating this service is in excess of $3 million per annum.

SPCA Canterbury is not government funded and relies on the generosity of the community to meet these needs by way of donations, sponsorship and bequests.

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