Royal New Zealand Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals

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The logo of the RNZSPCA.

The Royal New Zealand Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (commonly abbreviated RNZSPCA or SPCA) is a New Zealand charitable society who work to promote the humane treatment of animals. The Society operates under the Animal Welfare Act 1999, the legislation relating to animal welfare in New Zealand, under which warranted SPCA inspectors may investigate animal welfare complaints and prosecute where necessary.

A 2007 Reader's Digest ranked the SPCA as the second most trusted charity, behind the Cancer Society.[1]


The New Zealand SPCA was formed by settlers from England in 1882, inspired by the English Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in England which formed in 1824 after the passing of the Cruel Treatment of Cattle Act 1822 and who lobbied for the Cruelty to Animals Act 1835, this law was later replaced by the Cruelty to Animals Act 1876, a law which the settlers bought with them during the colonisation of New Zealand. The English society received royal patronage in 1840.[2]

The New Zealand society first formed in Dunedin, and was followed by the establishment of the Auckland and Wellington branches in 1883 and 1884 respectively. From this point onwards, smaller communities began to establish their own branch of the society. In 1933 the separate local societies joined together to form the national New Zealand Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.[2] There are now 47 individual branches across New Zealand.[3]

In 2008 the society celebrated 125 years of continued service with a march up Auckland's Queen Street.[4]


The Royal NZ SPCA and its sub-branches have initiated numerous campaigns in relation to animal welfare, usually in relation to education about humane treatment and to encourage changes in behaviour, however past campaigns have also been politically motivated with the aim of pushing through law changes or questioning the legality of certain practices.

The charity group has, in the past, helped to lead campaigns against tail docking of dogs together with the New Zealand Veterinary Association and in opposition with the New Zealand Kennel Club. The SPCA claimed that tail docking is an outdated and cosmetic practice which offers no benefits but causes unnecessary pain to the animal.[5] The Kennel Club purported that there was no scientific evidence to support any of the SPCA's claims and that tail docking should be up to owners' preference.[6] No decision was ever passed into law.[6]

The group has also been involved in campaigns against treatment of livestock, including Battery hens and pigs kept in pens known as "Sow stalls", a crate which a pregnant sow is kept in for up to 16 weeks unable to move or turn around.[7][8]

Individual branches of the group have also been involved in unofficial campaigns, not directly recognised by the national body. A successful campaign by the Auckland arm of the organisation seen an end to rodeos at Auckland's Easter show.[9] There has also been moves by key members of the organisation, such as Auckland SPCA chief executive Bob Kerridge, to have rodeos outlawed altogether.[10]

The SPCA also works in conjunction with the New Zealand Department of Child, Youth and Family Services to ensure that in households where animal abuse is occurring, possible indications of child abuse are looked into and in return where child abuse is found to be occurring, animals are looked into for possible maltreatment.[11] The Society's One of the family empathy education programme was started in 2007, backed by New Zealand celebrity Norm Hewitt, in response to research indicating that a large percentage of criminals begin abusing animals in early life.[12]

One of the SPCA's recurring campaigns is an annual "shame" list, exemplifying the worst cases of animal abuse in New Zealand.[13] The list is designed to bring public awareness to the abuse of animals and to alert the public to the close link between animal cruelty and domestic and family violence.[14]

In late 2012 an SPCA campaign which involved teaching dogs to drive cars[15] made headlines worldwide after featuring on TV3 current affairs show Campbell Live.[16][17]


The SPCA receives no government funding in order to run its campaigns and programmes, and thus relies very heavily on fundraising campaigns, public donations and bequests for its operational income. In 2010, the Society was granted $1.2 million from the Ministry for Primary Industries (New Zealand) in order to attend to animal welfare cases involving large-scale farming operations, to be split over four years.[18]

Fines as the result of prosecutions related to animal welfare abuse are often directed to be paid to the SPCA[19] and the society often seek the cost of food and veterinary bills from offenders during legal proceedings.[20]

The SPCA also engages in partnerships with various New Zealand businesses that also generate funding for the Society. For example, pet store chain Animates runs a 'Christmas Giving Tree' in support of the SPCA at Christmas time, whereby customers make a donation to the SPCA in return for an ornament that they can hang on the tree in-store.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Rowan, Juliet (2007-05-29). "Parents trust firefighters, but want kids to be high-earning lawyers". New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 2008-09-29. 
  2. ^ a b "History". Royal New Zealand Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Retrieved 2012-11-13. 
  3. ^ "About the Royal NZ SPCA". Royal New Zealand Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Retrieved 2012-11-13. 
  4. ^ "SPCA celebrates 125 years of service". New Zealand Herald. 2008-09-19. Retrieved 2008-10-05. 
  5. ^ Warman, Beth. "The Proposed Bill to Ban Tail Docking". NZKC. Retrieved 2008-09-29. 
  6. ^ a b Wauchop, Jessica (2007-09-18). "Dog welfare code targets tail docking". New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 2008-09-29. 
  7. ^ "SPCA upset at sow stall vote outcome". New Zealand Herald. 2001-07-26. Retrieved 2008-09-29. 
  8. ^ Beston, Anne (2001-07-25). "Sutton warns pig farmers to end stalls". New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 2008-09-29. 
  9. ^ Ihaka, James (2008-01-07). "Rodeo animals 'just like family'". New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 2008-09-29. 
  10. ^ Binning, Elizabeth (2008-01-04). "Mayor calls for ban on 'unacceptable, undignified and cruel' rodeos". New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 2008-09-29. 
  11. ^ May Eriksen, Alanah (2008-09-16). "SPCA, CYF police each other's patches". New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 2008-09-29. 
  12. ^ Hewitt, Norm. "Helping one, helps the other". Retrieved 2008-09-29. 
  13. ^ "List of shame". Royal New Zealand Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Retrieved 2012-11-13. 
  14. ^ NZPA (2012-11-05). "Worst animal cruelty cases 'all too familiar'". New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 2012-11-13. 
  15. ^ "SPCA teaches dogs to drive". 3 News NZ. December 7, 2012. 
  16. ^ "Dogs' driving skills put to the test". 3 News NZ. December 10, 2012. 
  17. ^ "Famous driving dogs visit the studio". 3 News NZ. December 7, 2012. 
  18. ^ "Animal welfare gets funding boost". New Zealand Herald. 2010-05-23. Retrieved 2012-11-13. 
  19. ^ "Owner fined for starving and dumping dog". New Zealand Herald. 2008-10-02. 
  20. ^ Gay, Edward (2008-09-28). "Arrest warrant out for former owner over cruelty to Eve". New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 2008-10-05. 

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