SPCA action misguided

LETTER

On Saturday, May 13 I had a visit from a local SPCA inspector informing me that my goats were tangled up, unable to reach their houses and were shivering in the wet conditions. FYI these goats are checked twice daily, on the way to work and when I return home.

The officer did not say if she took appropriate action to untangle the goat in question, nor did she say whether she had camera footage to support her claim. Upon checking the goat, while the inspector was on site, I found her not to be tangled up, nor shivering.

The officer issued me with a notice stating they had inadequate housing, no clean water source, were unable to roam and did not have enough flat ground.

Had this officer prepared herself with the correct section of the animal welfare code of practice before entering my property, my reception may have been more amicable. Quoting section 4.3 from the code does not pertain to tethered goats. Sections 2.3, 3.2 and 4.1 are the sections that should be referred to.

These goats can walk into their (dry) houses, turn around freely and sit or stand as they please. There is also free-running water right outside the houses — and they are not meant to roam, they are tethered on 5-7 metre-long chains on a flat road verge. Any longer and they would be a traffic hazard!

Video footage, taken directly after her exit, a copy of the issued notice and a long explanatory email regarding the entire encounter has been sent to SPCA (national) contact centre.

I suggest that inspectors do their homework and carry a full copy of the animal welfare code of practice when they are following up complaints from the public, to avoid conflict in the future.

To the busy-body passerby, perhaps you could do the humane thing and untangle any animal you find stuck . . . seriously! These goats are now 15 years old, they would not have lived this long if they were neglected.

Karen

Footnote response from RNZSPCA acting chief executive Andrea Midgen:

RNZSPCA has received a complaint from the owner of the goats regarding this situation and has been asked to review and investigate this case. In the meantime we are unable to comment on this case further until we have completed our investigation.

On Saturday, May 13 I had a visit from a local SPCA inspector informing me that my goats were tangled up, unable to reach their houses and were shivering in the wet conditions. FYI these goats are checked twice daily, on the way to work and when I return home.

The officer did not say if she took appropriate action to untangle the goat in question, nor did she say whether she had camera footage to support her claim. Upon checking the goat, while the inspector was on site, I found her not to be tangled up, nor shivering.

The officer issued me with a notice stating they had inadequate housing, no clean water source, were unable to roam and did not have enough flat ground.

Had this officer prepared herself with the correct section of the animal welfare code of practice before entering my property, my reception may have been more amicable. Quoting section 4.3 from the code does not pertain to tethered goats. Sections 2.3, 3.2 and 4.1 are the sections that should be referred to.

These goats can walk into their (dry) houses, turn around freely and sit or stand as they please. There is also free-running water right outside the houses — and they are not meant to roam, they are tethered on 5-7 metre-long chains on a flat road verge. Any longer and they would be a traffic hazard!

Video footage, taken directly after her exit, a copy of the issued notice and a long explanatory email regarding the entire encounter has been sent to SPCA (national) contact centre.

I suggest that inspectors do their homework and carry a full copy of the animal welfare code of practice when they are following up complaints from the public, to avoid conflict in the future.

To the busy-body passerby, perhaps you could do the humane thing and untangle any animal you find stuck . . . seriously! These goats are now 15 years old, they would not have lived this long if they were neglected.

Karen

Footnote response from RNZSPCA acting chief executive Andrea Midgen:

RNZSPCA has received a complaint from the owner of the goats regarding this situation and has been asked to review and investigate this case. In the meantime we are unable to comment on this case further until we have completed our investigation.

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Pau-Pau - 2 months ago
To the so-called "busy-body"; good on you for reporting this. Too many people ignore animals in distress and you absolutely did the right thing. Also, it is cruel to tether goats; they should be able to roam free and not be used as somebody's weed eater. To the RSPCA; you do a wonderful job and, yes, sometimes make mistakes. It is a pity this animal owner has taken to public complaint and criticism when you are just trying to do your job.

Ruth - 2 months ago
To Pau-Pau, did you actually read the letter? These old goats are Houdinis and were saved from a captive bolt slaughter many years ago and have led happy lives for 15 years. They are always together, regularly drenched, given alternate feed as may be needed in tough conditions. They have dry housing, clean water, checked on twice daily and have in fact roamed free much of their lives, but have to be tethered due to their fantastic jumping ability.
Had the inspector presented herself in a more professional manner, conflict would not have occurred.
The owner has also been an avid supporter of the SPCA all her life.
While you are entitled to your opinion, you would be well advised to know the background before spouting off.

Andy - 2 months ago
A Section 130 Notice is meant to be a tool which an inspector uses. I'm not sure if the Goats Code of Welfare has been updated in the eight or so months since I left employment as inspector in Gisborne, but usually a S130 Notice is something that gets written out as something of a last resort. I also don't remember "flat ground" being a prerequisite, nor is it against the code to tether goats. I received umpteen complaints about goats and the usual method of dealing with them is to photocopy the relevant parts of the code and have a friendly word with the owner to see if he or she can improve the lot of the animal/s in question.

Pau - Pau - 2 months ago
To Ruth; obviously I read the letter; and contrary to your apparent mistaken belief, my comments were designed to encourage the reporting of animal welfare concerns by the public, and to reiterate the fact (as others have also mentioned) that tethering goats is not something considered as in the animals best welfare. My "spouting off", as you refer to it, is a person concerned about animal welfare and hoping to make some people think a little bit more about how we treat the animals we share this world with.

Ruth - 2 months ago
To Pau Pau, you are missing the point. The original letter highlighted the fact that the passerby did not intervene or assist to help the goat when it was tangled but instead rang the SPCA. I would hope that if you came across an animal caught in a fence or tangled somehow that you would render assistance . . .? People do work and are sometimes not at home for several hours a day, did you consider this? The passerby obviously did not. I fully support the SPCA in their work for the prevention and intervention of cruelty to any animal, that however was not the case in this instance. I wonder what your view is on horses tethered on the side of roads? You should perhaps take the time to familiarise yourself with the Animal Welfare Code of Practice where your misguided perception of cruelty shall be explained to you.
Your opinion is exactly that, just an opinion.
Ruth

Kevin - 2 months ago
Well said Andy! It's all about approach at the end of the day.

Pau Pau - 2 months ago
To Ruth; actually you are missing the point; read my last response again without your obvious bias and perhaps you will finally get it. Did you consider the fact that maybe the person who reported this may not have actually been physically able to help the animal, and did what she thought best in this instance? Did you read Tony's letter/response? Someone who actually keeps goats and is familiar with the Animal Welfare Code of Practice; as, actually am I. My opinion is certainly shared by many others. I am not going to be checking any more responses to this or entering any more correspondence on this matter.

Ruth McGuire - 2 months ago
Thanks for your reply Andy, well said.

Tony - 2 months ago
Tethering goats has certain restrictions on it now and will eventually be illegal.
Enforcing the Animal Welfare Act involves more than just having a "friendly chat" and tethering goats on banks or slopes is just placing the poor goat in a situation where the goat could slip and get strangled by the tether, as has happened many times before.
This practice has been a welfare issue for some time now. New regulations coming in will see on-the-spot fines for lack of proper care.
At least this inspector showed concern for the animals in question. In my opinion, anyone who keeps goats tethered like this should not have them. They easily get tangled and checking twice a day is not enough.
Those defending this practice also show ignorance and lack of understanding for goats. Lastly - goats that have spent years tethered do not attempt to wander or "escape"( another misconception regarding goats) from paddocks as these behaviours have been lost to them from years of no "opportunity to display normal patterns of behaviour" - section c of the Animal Welfare Act .
This is my last post on this.

Karen - 1 month ago
To Pau-Pau and Tony, I am pleased that those last posts will be your last, I have watched with interest your responses to other people's comments, including that of a past inspector, that neither of you responded. I had a very positive meeting with the SPCA regional manager last week, a very nice man with a vast, vast knowledge of all the codes and years of experience in dealing with people, and without going into it, the outcome required no change to the present situation. You have no knowledge of my goats and their amazing ability to jump 8 wire fences and actually climb other types of fencing; their tethering is the safest options for them at this point in their very long lives and the neigbourhood so, frankly, your knowledge is unfounded here. If the person who complained was not in a position to get out of a vehicle, a note could be placed in the letter box, which is very accessible, or indeed, let my immediate neighbours know, they would be happy to oblige. All my other animals are checked twice daily also, pigs, horses, chickens, dogs etc, I assume in your opinion this is not enough either, god help me for working a 10-hour day to support all my animals and pay my mortgage. I wonder what your opinions are of tethered horses on road ways?? Regardless of this outcome, it will not change people's opinion of tethered goats nor would it likely change their lack of immediate humane action to rectify a situation they feel is not just.
I am satisfied in my knowledge that these two goats are in no way neglected.
Your opinions will forever remain just that, opinions.
Karen

Tony - 1 month ago
No Karen, my comments on goat care and tethering goats are fact. It's a shame that, for the sake of your goats, you cannot open your mind to learn about their psyche and proper care.