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'We've checked every single animal' - SPCA refutes puppy mill cruelty accusations

The SPCA has spoken out after allegations of animal mistreatment at a Northland dog breeder were posted online, saying they have thoroughly inspected every animal on site.

Source: 1 NEWS

The widely-shared accusations were posted on Facebook on Sunday and Monday, and related to a property in Kaipara near Dargaville.

In a posted video taken on Saturday, the property owner is involved in an altercation involving a gun with a group of people who appeared to have trespassed on her property to document the alleged animal mistreatment.

Senior Sergeant Rob Huys of Northland Police said they attended the incident and are still making enquiries and working to speak with the different parties involved.

Under New Zealand law, there is no limit to how many dogs a person may keep, unless they are subject to a local council bylaw.

However, all animal owners are bound by the Animal Welfare Act, which is the primary legislation used by the SPCA to enforce animal cruelty matters.

SPCA inspectors are appointed under the Act, and they have the legal authority to investigate cruelty, abuse, neglect and abandonment.

SPCA Inspectorate General Manager Tracy Phillips, a former police officer, told 1 NEWS that SPCA inspectors have attended the property in question and inspected every animal on site.

"There's a whole lot of assuming going on that we're doing nothing - that we haven't been there," Phillips said.

"We have attended that address, we've checked every single animal at the address, and we're working with the owners to get good animal outcomes."

Phillips said the SPCA inspector found only "minor" issues at the property, and said the animals there were in good condition and were "pretty healthy".

She also condemned animal welfare advocates taking the law into their own hands, saying such actions had the potential to disrupt legitimate investigations which have actual regulatory power.

"If people see things, the right thing to do is to contact the right authorities with the approved status to follow it up according to law," she said.

"We've been through training on how to gather evidence and we're legally allowed to go onto property."

She said the issue of animal breeding and selling was currently being looked at by the SPCA, particularly around the representations and assurances made by those selling pets.

Phillips said potential buyers of pets should always seek to see the place where to animal was raised to ensure it was a good environment, rather than meeting at a separate location or having the animal shipped.

The New Zealand Companion Animal council has a summary of the code of welfare for dogs available here.

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