The future of 24 stolen dogs is uncertain as an animal welfare organization refuses to hand them over, while police demand they be returned to their owner.
Animal charity Helping You Help Animals (HUHA) says dogs were removed from a Taumaranui puppy mill where they lived in cages or a barn and suffered from chronic illnesses including dislocated knees, a disease periodontal, hydrocephalus and dwarfism.
Chief Executive Officer Carolyn Press-McKenzie said the organization was contacted by a stranger and recovered the animals, mostly pugs, under mysterious circumstances in mid-September.
“We drove all the way to Hunterville and met this person by the side of the road in the dark park, and got possession of 25 dogs. They were all very stressed out and it was a pretty emotional kind of transfer.”
Press-McKenzie said the organization contacted police and the SPCA on the same day as they suspected the neglected animals had been stolen.
She said the dogs, which have since been taken in by HUHA, have been assessed by their vets as being in poor to critical condition.
One of them has since died, and of the remaining 24, several others still need specialized care.
HUHA said police demanded the dogs be returned to the breeder, but the organization was concerned for the welfare of the animals if returned.
Press-McKenzie said her team plan to resist peacefully, although they have been warned that they could be arrested and charged with obstructing police.
“We have talked about it as a team and we are ready to do it because we cannot ignore them knowing that they are returning to a situation of suffering and discomfort.”
HUHA was also concerned that a vet who saw the animals had failed to notify authorities and the organization filed a complaint with the Veterinary Council, she said.
She said raising puppies is a significant problem in New Zealand and the failure of the police and the SPCA to protect these dogs highlights systemic animal welfare issues.
The Veterinary Council said it was unable to confirm HUHA’s complaint for confidentiality reasons, but complaints took an average of four months to resolve.
However, managing director Iain McLachlan said veterinarians have a special duty to protect animals and alleviate suffering.
He said the dog conditions described by HUHA – including fleas, overgrown fingernails, cysts and underweight, antisocial and untrained dogs – suggested health issues that would concern most people. veterinarians.
Neither the vet nor the breeder responded to RNZ’s requests for comment.
Police and the SPCA both said they were investigating and declined to comment further.