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SPCA: "Clean And Green" Is Not Enough!


30 September 2002

SPCA: "Clean And Green" Is Not Enough!

Our national brand is being jeopardised by cruel and callous behaviour towards animals, says the Royal New Zealand SPCA.

The society has marked the commencement of World Animal Week on Tuesday 1st October with a call for New Zealand to opt for the highest international standards in its treatment of companion, farm and wild animals.

The SPCA says that the adoption of international best practice in animal welfare is not only ethically correct but also necessary for preserving our status in the global economy.

"As a nation, we take great pride in our clean, green reputation and our unique natural environment. We also recognise that these are enormously valuable assets when it comes to marketing our products to affluent and discriminating consumers overseas or to luring them here as tourists.

"However, we also need to understand that, in the minds of many of our customers, environmental purity and the compassionate treatment of animals are wholly and unavoidably intertwined. With ethical considerations increasingly shaping consumer choice, we need to be thought of as humane and responsible as well as clean and green if we are to continue to enjoy consumer goodwill," says the SPCA's Chief Executive Officer, Peter Blomkamp.

"Perhaps because of the traditional importance of our land-based industries, we've often taken an expedient or even callous approach to both domestic and farm animals. Moreover, whilst we rightly place a huge premium on preserving our unique native fauna, we don't always feel the need to treat imported species with even a minimum of compassion. These attitudes must change if we are to preserve and enhance our national brand," he says.

According to Mr Blomkamp, it's not unusual for overseas visitors to comment critically over some New Zealand dairy farmers' docking of cow tails, a practice which is unknown in our major export markets and which deprives cattle of their natural ability to swat flies. He says that the SPCA has also received complaints from tourists on farm stays over the emaciated and neglected condition of some farm dogs.

"In addition, high stocking rates on farms have resulted in both a shortage of shelter for animals during cold snaps and what can sometimes be a virtual absence of shade during warmer weather. All too often in midsummer you can see every animal in the paddock jostling for space beneath a solitary tree whilst the sun beats mercilessly down," he says, adding that over-stocking also contributed to the suffering of starving animals during last year's drought conditions.

"A further concern is that we're falling behind much of the developed world by continuing to sanction essentially cruel systems of intensive farming. Sow stalls, used for constraining pregnant pigs, are still legal here, although they are being phased-out in the United Kingdom and elsewhere. Similarly, our government has yet to decide whether to order the phase-out of battery cages for egg-laying hens, despite the fact that a phase-out is already underway in much of Europe.

"In today's global village, there's always a risk of animal abuse stories being flashed around the world by satellite and fibre-optic cable and perhaps treated in a sensationalist way by overseas media. The resulting scandal could tarnish our brand as a nation. If that happened, the consequences might not just be felt by our food exporters but by industries as diverse as wine, fashion and tourism," says Mr Blomkamp.

World Animal Week takes place annually in early October. Mr Blomkamp says that the Royal New Zealand SPCA has made substantial progress since the last such week in raising awareness of the need for a more humane approach to animal.

"We've been hugely encouraged by the response to our campaigns against sow stalls and battery cages. Submissions to Government, calling for a sow stall ban have been signed by approximately 65,000 New Zealanders whilst almost twice that number have signed submissions in favour of a ban on battery cages. Large majorities have also told opinion pollsters that they want these systems of incarceration banned. We trust that government will take note of this shift in public sentiment.

"A very large percentage of New Zealanders have always given strong support to the SPCA's work on behalf of companion animals such as dogs and cats. It's very heartening to see the circle of compassion broadening to take in a more extensive range of animals," he says.

For further information, please contact;

Peter Blomkamp

Chief Executive Officer

Royal New Zealand SPCA

09 827 6094

021 179 0072

Released by Ian Morrison, Matter of Fact Communications

Tel: 09 575 3223, 0 Fax: 09 575 3220,

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