Contrasting RSPCA’s Part 1- the Royal NZ SPCA

Last year, the Royal NZ SPCA  announced the start of their “Saving Lives” strategy – based 100% on Nathan Winograd’s No Kill strategy.

Recently, the NZ Society was awarded the presitigious Henry Bergh Leadership Award by the No Kill Advocacy Centre:

(About Henry Bergh: Henry Bergh was a 19th Century animal advocate who launched the humane movement in North America. He gave the first speech on animal protection in the U.S., incorporated the nation’s first SPCA, and enforced anti-cruelty laws with passion. Every night, Bergh would patrol the streets of his native New York City looking for animals in need of protection. Upon his death, the poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote of him:

Among the noblest of the land; Though he may count himself the least; That man I honor and revere; Who, without favor, without fear; In the great city dares to stand; The friend of every friendless beast.

To those who opposed Bergh’s attempts at saving the lives of animals, he was known as “The Great Meddler.” The recipients epitomize the unwavering commitment of Bergh to save lives, even in the face of criticism and opposition.)

We wrote to Robyn and recieved this reply:

“Thanks for your good wishes – now all I have to do is achieve a No Kill Nation – no pressure!

Nathan Winograd spent a week with me and my staff and Centre personnel so he had an in depth understanding of our situation and work.

 I provided an interview to the Examiner
and a long radio interview – to which there is a podcast at that will probably answer most of your questions.

 A  more detailed outline of how we came to Saving Lives will need to wait until February next year .

 As to progress in New Zealand – we have several smaller SPCAs – Waiheke, Waihi, North Canterbury – that are posting zero kill rates (euthanasia only occurs with extreme cases of age or illness).  Our second largest SPCA in Wellington has reduced their kill rate to 28% last year and it will reduce that further this year. 

 We will be celebrating the successes of 2010 at our Annual Conference in Wellington in May 2011 where I expect even more good news statistics and stories.

 We have kept this very ‘real’ appointing a senior staff member (previously our Education and Training Manager with centre management, teaching and vet nursing experience) to the position of Saving Lives Ambassador.  Sara visits SPCAs to assist them in their Saving Lives work and to walk them through the Saving Lives checklist – see attached.  I sent her to the No Kill Conference in July this year and also a 3 day negotiation skills training – absolutely vital for the change management she is assisting.

 We have recently signed a comprehensive MOU with our major pet retail chain, Animates, enabling both juvenile kittens and puppies to be available for sale through their stores – de sexed, vaccinated and microchipped as SPCA Special Animals.

 This is a radical departure from previous culture that regarded pet retail as contra to our principles.  This is already having the effect of raising the bar for SPCAs in disease control (a part of the MOU) as part of their everyday protocols, and freezing out back yard breeders and puppy farms.  There has been absolutely no back lash from the public who are reported to like being able to have an SPCA animal ( they pay approximately the same as they do at most SPCAs) and it gives us 17 extra outlets to home animals.

 We are also working on offsite adoptions for older animals occurring in the store environs – gives us services and prospective adopters a place to find their food and essential pet supplies.

 We are also encouraging SPCAs to swap animals to enable adoptions or to take animals from each other when space is at a premium.  Fostering networks are key to the space issue and most SPCAs are now running fostering programs.”

DRP Comment

Here is a very real example of what can happen when the leaders of an animal welfare charity make the decision and commitment to end the killing of healthy and rehomable animals. The first step is to go public and make the commitment. There is no doubt that the journey will not always be easy. But honesty, openess and transparency, together with asking the community to help are key ingredients.

So why do the Australian RSPCA CEO’s all say “We don’t believe in No Kill”?

How come the Royal NZ SPCA can say they do believe in ‘No Kill,’ but our’s can’t? How come the AWL’s of Queensland and Tasmania say they believe in it and have embarked on the “Getting to Zero” strategy, yet the AWL’s of NSW, Victoria and SA won’t make thatcommitment?

Watch this blog through the year for news on this and related news. It’s time to pressure the Australian major animal welfare charities to get on the bus, or stop asking the public for even more donations.

Here are important related documents you can download:


2 thoughts on “Contrasting RSPCA’s Part 1- the Royal NZ SPCA

  1. Alistar April 7, 2011 / 5:36 pm

    Saving lives will be successful in NZ.
    In saying that it is a balacing act.
    Incoming-medical euthanasia= outgoings(adoptions)
    We do not have the option of overcrowding and warehousing our havens,
    Only by reducing incoming and expanding outgoings do we balance the equation.
    Incoming reduction is achieved by desexing and targeted education (sometimes refusing to accept recidivist dumpers).
    Outgoings depend on economic circumstances of people at the time. That is where the real challenge lies.
    It boils down to what we in business call “turnover” The greater the turnover numbers the better the success of saving lives.
    An exciting challenge. Do not confuse “saving lives” with no kill.
    The RNZSPCA endorses pig and egg products and in the strictest sense cannot ever be rgarded as no kill.

    Alistar McKellow BVSc BA Dip Acupuncture
    Veterinarian RNZSPCA Mobile Desexing Caravan

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