Emaciated Tauranga horse on SPCA List of Shame

October 31, 2011

The discovery of an emaciated horse in Tauranga that died shortly after has made the New Zealand SPCA's 2011 List of Shame.

The Royal New Zealand SPCA said the horse was described by the attending vet as the skinniest she had seen.

It said the case is currently before the courts.

The SPCA List of Shame features some of the worst cases of abhorrent neglect and mistreatment of animals.

The charity said the established link between the abuse of animals and violence to humans makes the incidents even more poignant and relevant.

"This year's list once again highlights the inhumanity meted out on the innocent and defenceless," said chief executive Robyn Kippenberger.

"Despite the Animal Welfare Act being extremely clear about the duty of care of owning animals, this year we have cases of extreme neglect and failure to provide veterinary treatment.

"And, once again, there are cases of violence to animals being used to exert power and control over the families that love them.

"Most disturbingly, there are also incidents of young men wantonly killing and injuring animals without apparent reason."

July 2011 saw the prosecution of a man who had beaten a six-month old puppy to death with a golf club. It was a prolonged and particularly brutal act of cruelty which resulted in the Te Kuiti man being sentenced to 18 months jail for ill-treatment of an animal and was banned for life from owning another dog.

A teenager in Kaikoura bludgeoned to death 25 seals, including newborn pups, with a metal pipe as he believed they were pests. Others were found to be still alive having suffered horrific injuries.

He was convicted of wilfully ill-treating protected animals and received a two-year jail sentence. An alleged co-offender is currently before the court. This is the harshest penalty ever handed down in New Zealand for an animal cruelty offence.

In the Waikato, a 12-week-old kitten was beaten and burned to death in Te Awamutu in front of the owner's daughter and five-year-old granddaughter.

The offender has been sentenced to 18 months jail and banned from owning an animal for 10 years.

The passing of the Amendment to the 1999 Animal Welfare Act in July 2010 by unanimous parliamentary vote, increased the maximum jail sentence from three to five years for an act of wilful cruelty that resulted in death with suffering or permanent disability of an animal.

The maximum penalty achieved for animal cruelty under the original Act was a 12-month custodial sentence delivered in 2009 to Jeffrey Hurring for the killing of the Jack Russell dog, Diesel.

The sentence was later appealed and reduced to 10 months.

Kippenberger said: "The link between animal abuse and human violence is well researched and undeniable. The recent increased sentences send a clear message that violence, whether to animals or humans, is unacceptable and society will not tolerate either.

"We hope that the higher penalties will act as a deterrent to potential offenders and give animal abuse increased significance for those who may be able to report such acts to ourselves or the police.

The SPCA's Annual Appeal Week takes place from Saturday, November 5, to Friday, November 11. To make an automatic $3 donation to the SPCA's fight against animal cruelty, TXT SPCA to 3181.