Inspectorate

Our SPCA Inspectors are highly trained to investigate all forms of animal welfare, including suspected neglect and abuse.

SPCA Canterbury has five Animal Welfare Inspectors who cover a vast area including all of Canterbury, north of the Rakaia River up to Hanmer Springs. They respond to allegations of animal cruelty and neglect and have the legal power to remove animals from their owners and prosecute if necessary.

Inspectors are appointed by the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI), (formerly known as MAF, Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries) to enforce the Animal Welfare Act 1999 (see below). This Act is the law that defines the responsibilities of owning and caring for animals, (including birds) in this country. Under the Act, the SPCA has the power to protect all animals from abuse, neglect and abandonment.

Our Inspectors are part of a national team that is responsible for making sure people follow this law.

Inspector training includes planning, preparation and conducting investigations, observation, first aid to both large and small animals, emergency euthanasia, animal behaviour and transportation of small and large animals. Inspectors must be competent and able to deal with a range of situations from aggressive animals to aggressive people, interviewing offenders, compiling evidence and presenting that evidence in court in a clear, concise manner.

Under the Animal Welfare Act 1999, all animals have the right to the following "Five Freedoms":

  1. Proper and sufficient food and water.
  2. Adequate shelter.
  3. The opportunity to display normal patters of behaviour.
  4. Appropriate physical handling.
  5. Protection from and rapid diagnosis of injury and disease.

If you would like to know more about this Act, please click here for details.

We are often asked why we prosecute some people and not others. The answer is that, whenever possible, we offer advice and assistance to improve animal welfare, and this sometimes means giving people time to make improvements. This is not always possible or appropriate. For example, if there has been a deliberate act of violence against an animal, when people won't accept assistance, or in extreme cases of neglect. Under these kinds of circumstances our Inspectors will consider prosectution under the Animal Welfare Act 1999.

The most common offences against animals throughout New Zealand are:

  • Failing to provide an animal with adequate food, water and shelter.
  • Deliberate acts of cruelty towards an animal.
  • Failing to seek necessary veterinary advice.


If you have any concerns about the mistreatment of an animal please phone us on (03) 349 7057 - 9am to 4pm, or (03) 366 3886 - After Hours.

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