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Rotorua SPCA investigating multiple reports of dog abuse on streets

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Rotorua people have reported multiple incidents of a puppy or puppies being abused on various streets. Stock photo / 123rf

Warning: Distressing content

The SPCA is investigating incidents of a puppy or puppies being abused in daylight on Rotorua streets.

One witness said they saw a man dragging a puppy along the concrete and kicking it multiple times.

Concerned Rotorua residents say there were reports of animal abuse on Old Taupo Rd, Clayton Rd, and Lake Rd in the past fortnight. It is unclear if the incidents relate to the same person and puppy.

The SPCA said in the 12 months to the end of June, it received 352 animal welfare complaints in Rotorua and 13,349 nationally.

Rotorua resident Mark Rendell said he saw a man “dragging the dog because the dog was tired” on Lake Rd on February 20.

“It was only a little puppy and he kept on dragging it [on the concrete] and then he constantly was kicking it,” Rendell said.

“He wasn’t trying to hide the fact [he was kicking the dog].”

Rendell said he tried to ring the SPCA “but it [the call] didn’t go through”.

He said he felt “disappointed” he could not do more.

‘He was just telling me to **** off and go away’

Rotorua woman Kaylyn Monteith saw a man “kick” his dog on February 20 on Clayton Rd.

“I just saw him kick the dog and lift him up because he [the dog] had a lead on.

“He lifted the puppy up so it wasn’t touching the ground and he was choking it with the lead.”

“He kicked him. I don’t think the puppy was walking properly.”

Monteith said she “yelled out” and turned her car around to approach the man.

As she pulled into a parking space, the man was walking past her car.

“I was telling him that he shouldn’t do that to his dog and he was just telling me to ‘**** off and go away’.”

She said she “didn’t want to get out of the car” because the man looked “quite aggressive”.

Monteith reported the incident to police and the Rotorua SPCA.

‘Resources are spread pretty thin’

Animal rights group SAFE For Animals head of investigations Will Appelbe said the organisation received reports of animal abuse or cruelty on a “weekly basis”, often from people who felt they had “exhausted every other avenue”.

“The problem is that there’s very little resources in New Zealand for enforcement and investigation.”

Appelbe said the Ministry for Primary Industries and SPCA were the main agencies responsible for investigating animal cruelty.

SAFE For Animals head of investigations Will Appelbe.
SAFE For Animals head of investigations Will Appelbe.

The ministry focussed on animal welfare in agriculture, and the SPCA investigated cruelty or abuse towards companion animals.

“There’s just simply not enough inspectors to really address the issue properly.”

He said the SPCA did “a fantastic job with the resources they have”.

“But they are a charity at the end of the day and their resources are spread pretty thin.”

He said animal abuse was a crime under the Animal Welfare Act but prosecutions were resource-intensive.

“Their hands can be a little bit tied if they don’t have any evidence of what’s taken place.

“There are some infringement fines that can be given to dog owners without going to court. But they’re quite low-level and very specific.”

SPCA investigates ‘numerous reports’

SPCA inspectorate team leader Alex Jones said the SPCA was aware of recent incidents in Rotorua, “having received numerous reports from members of the public”.

“As this is an active investigation, we are unable to comment further”.

Jones said any “deliberate abuse of animals” was “deeply concerning” and public witnesses could help “identify the perpetrator and hold them accountable”.

SPCA inspectorate team leader Alex Jones. File photo / Andrew Warner
SPCA inspectorate team leader Alex Jones. File photo / Andrew Warner

“SPCA takes seriously any instance of a breach of the Animal Welfare Act, but it can be difficult to investigate without sufficient evidence, which is why being alerted to such instances by caring members of the public is so important.”

Jones said anyone with information should contact the local Rotorua SPCA branch.

Rotorua Lakes Council community and district development group manager Jean-Paul Gaston said “although no notification was reported directly to Rotorua Lakes Council, I can confirm Animal Control were alerted to the incident by the SPCA on Tuesday 20 February and supported them with extra patrols and visibility in the area”.

Rotorua Lakes Council community and district development group manager Jean-Paul Gaston. Photo / Laura Smith
Rotorua Lakes Council community and district development group manager Jean-Paul Gaston. Photo / Laura Smith

Gaston said dog ownership came with “big responsibilities”.

“All dogs, especially puppies, need nutritious food, shelter, a well-fenced section and plenty of love and attention,” he said.

A spokesperson said police received reports of a man abusing a dog on Wallace Cr Rotorua, about 4.20pm on February 20.

The SPCA was advised and did not appear police were taking the matter further, the spokesperson said.

“SPCA were advised of the incident. At this stage, it does not appear, with the information at hand…that Police are taking it further.”

Michaela Pointon is an NZME reporter based in the Bay of Plenty and was formerly a feature writer.



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