Underweight animals left with matted coats and no food or water are seen too frequently by the region’s SPCA team, who are also reporting concerning numbers of dogs left in hot cars.
A current nationwide SPCA campaign is driving awareness of the level of animal abuse the organisation encounters all over the country, including in Masterton.
SPCA responds to almost 14,000 animal welfare complaints nationwide each year, and inspectorate team leader Ben Lakomy said that this included 165 cases in Masterton last year.
“Unfortunately, a huge portion of these complaints relate to concerns about an animal’s physical health and behavioural needs not being met, as well as failure to provide treatment for an animal’s injury or illness.”
A new agreement in place between the SPCA and the Ministry of Primary Industries puts the responsibility for small companion animals and non-commercial [10 or fewer] livestock on the SPCA.
Lakomy said the majority of complaints reported to the SPCA in Masterton in the past year related to dogs, followed by sheep, cats, cattle, and horses.
“An example of the types of complaints received include those about animals that are underweight or are in poor condition, such as having matted coats,” Lakomy said.
“We also receive complaints about animals with untreated injuries or illnesses, animals that haven’t been provided with adequate food, water, or exercise, or are living in unhygienic conditions or muddy or bare paddocks.”
Lakomy noted that over the summer months, dogs being left inside hot cars becomes a major, reoccurring issue.
“We’ve seen near-record temperatures in Masterton recently, and it’s really important that people are aware of just how dangerous it can be to leave an animal inside a vehicle, even parked in the shade with the windows down,” he said.
“On a hot day, it doesn’t take long for the temperature inside the vehicle to reach 50 degrees, which could be life-threatening for the animal inside.”
Lakomy said it is one of the more frustrating issues that SPCA inspectors respond to because it is entirely avoidable.
“We continue to urge pet owners to leave their dogs at home or bring them out of the car when parking up somewhere.”
Should anyone come across such a situation, the New Zealand Automobile Association [AA] has stated that calls involving pets [or children] locked inside a vehicle will be immediately prioritised, and a road service officer will arrive at the scene free of charge, regardless of whether the person making the call is an AA member or not.
Leaving an animal inside a hot car has been an offence under the Animal Welfare Act since 2018 and can lead to a $300 fine.