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SPCA Hails Its Christchurch Heroes


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For release: Wednesday 16th March

SPCA Hails Its Christchurch Heroes

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The Royal New Zealand SPCA has hailed the work of its animal rescue and welfare team in the aftermath of last month's Christchurch earthquake.

The Society also says that events in Christchurch have strongly vindicated its long-running campaign to have all companion animals micro-chipped for ease of identification and return to owners.

"Whilst the emergency services concentrated on saving human lives, the SPCA took the primary responsibility for caring for animal survivors and, wherever possible, reuniting lost pets with their owners," says the Society's National President, Bob Kerridge.

"I would like to record my extreme pride in the entire SPCA team, who were on the ground, doing whatever was needed for the animals, whilst experiencing a harrowing human drama and, in the case of our local team members, facing their own deep traumas concerning homes and families.

"It's estimated that our emergency team cared directly for more than 200 animals in the days immediately following the earthquake. In addition, they provided triage for many of the amazing dogs deployed by urban rescue teams from around the world, who were suffering from dust ingestion or cuts or abrasions to their paws," he says.

In the quake's immediate aftermath, SPCA Canterbury serviced more than one thousand telephone calls per day, primarily in connection with lost or found pets.

The SPCA also established a dedicated 0800 number, linked to the New Zealand Companion Animal Council's Animal Register. This number (0800 LOST PET or 0800 567873) also received over a thousand calls a day, with details of lost and found animals fed onto the highly effective Pets on the Net website (www.petsonthenet.co.nz).

Led by the SPCA's Southern Chief Inspector, Stephanie Saunders, its Wellington Chief Inspector, Ritchie Dawson, Canterbury SPCA's Chairman, Ross Blanks and Centre Manager, Geoff Sutton,the team on the ground included almost thirty Christchurch and Wellington SPCA employees, reinforced by four members of Massey University's Veterinary Emergency Response Team.

"Others who have made a superb contribution to our efforts on behalf of Christchurch's animals include Nygllhuw and Julie Morris of the Animal Register and Kim Buchanan and her team at Pets on the Net, who have so far helped reunite more than 90 pets with their owners," says Bob Kerridge. "A key factor in returning pets to owners has been whether or not the animals have been micro-chipped. I've been campaigning personally on this issue for many years, being acutely conscious of the importance of the microchip in reuniting lost animals with their human families.

"Although only about 10% of the animals handled by the Animal Register were micro-chipped, of these, 80% were successfully returned to owners within an hour.

"In contrast, even in successful cases, it has often taken days, or even weeks, to reunite un-chipped animals with their owners.

"Unfortunately, positive identification does not always mean that an animal is still alive. Yet, even when we have the sad duty of returning a much-loved pet's body to its human family, we are usually helping them achieve a degree of closure.

"Of course, nothing is more heart-warming than witnessing the sheer joy of returning a live animal to its home, knowing that the family is complete again" he adds.

The critical role played by micro-chipping in Christchurch has prompted the SPCA, in association with the New Zealand Companion Animal Council , the New Zealand Veterinary Association and the Animates Pet Store chain, to offer free micro-chipping and registration of any animals in the Christchurch area presented between now and Friday 25th March.

"It's our way of giving something of value to the citizens of Christchurch, as well as providing some surety that, should they and their animals be parted in the future for any reason, it's very likely they will be reunited," says Bob Kerridge.
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