New Zealanders are hurting their pets more than ever before as animal welfare complaints skyrocket, statistics by the SPCA have revealed.
SPCA CEO Andrea Midgen spoke to TVNZ's Breakfast this morning about the reasons behind the increasing numbers.
"Well, they've just really increased, so 2011, we were sort of down around by about 11,000 animal welfare complaints. 2017, we're up to nearly 16,000," Ms Midgen said.
"I think it's a really positive thing because I think people are starting to understand what is OK and what's not OK and so they’re reporting more, which is a good thing."
Ms Midgen says of the almost 16,000 complaints, "about 50 per cent" are about dogs because "we're one of the highest companion animal owners in the world, so there’s a lot of dogs around".
She says there should be more rules around dog ownership.
"It's definitely a commitment – it's like having children, you know? It's a good 12, 15 years for a dog and it costs money to take care of dogs; you need vet treatment often; it's a time commitment which people struggle with these days of walking them and enriching their lives," Ms Midgen said.
Now, the SPCA is organising a fundraiser called Walk your Dog to the Moon, launching today, which outfits you and your dog with pedometers to help raise money for the animal charity through sponsorship.
"We don't get any assistance, so we have to survive on fundraising," says Ms Midgen.
"We're working with the Ministry for Primary Industries to try and increase the funding because we're a co-regulator with them. We have 70 inspectors across the country and it costs over $10 million to run that service – we get about $400,000 from the Government."
She says the best tip on how to spot animal abuse is to first "check it out", take a photo or video and provide as many facts as possible to the SPCA.
"Often, it's just an education [issue]. People don’t fully appreciate what they need to be doing for their pets and that's an easy one. Sometimes, it goes all the way through to prosecution."