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SPCA fights rising number of cruelty cases

Published: 6:44PM Tuesday March 10, 2009 Source: NZPA

An increase in the number of animal cruelty cases has prompted the Auckland SPCA to step up its campaign of zero tolerance for offenders who abuse and neglect animals.

A prosecution appeal has been launched to raise money to fund prosecution of the rising number of animal cruelty cases in the Auckland region.

Inspectors in Auckland have prosecuted more than 40 people over the past 12 months, under the Animal Welfare Act .

Auckland SPCA general manager David Lloyd-Barker says it was a time-consuming and particularly expensive process.

SPCA inspectors spent hours compiling evidence prior to a court appearance, and a single day in a defended trial could cost up to $10,000, he said.

"We are getting more and more cases which need defending. We need to employ a barrister each time and barristers cost money. One case recently ran to $15,000."

"We're reliant on people's generosity. We need to raise much-needed funds so that prosecutions can continue, as we strive to stem the tide of animal cruelty cases," Lloyd-Barker says.

This month alone, there have been several cases up before the courts showing "sickening levels of animal cruelty", he says.

In Manukau District Court on Monday, Peter James Cooksley, 42, of Manurewa, appeared on a charge of wilful ill-treatment of an animal causing death.

Cooksley shot a nine-month-old male cat with a crossbow in December. The cat died despite surgery to remove the crossbow bolt, which had split one of its kidneys in two.

Judge Charles Blackie convicted and fined Cooksley $500 and awarded $800 costs to the SPCA.

On Wednesday, a man will appear in Manukau District Court charged with a barbaric attack on a pet goat last month.

The goat was tethered to the towbar of a car and forced to run behind it. When she could run no longer, she was dragged for several kilometres behind the vehicle.

This month Wayne Vernon Joseph Williams was due to appear in Manukau District Court for sentencing after admitting beating a terrier with a pipe, then strangling it to death.

Lloyd-Barker says he hoped Williams would get the maximum sentence of three years' jail.

"This is the animal welfare equivalent of murder which was deliberately premeditated," he says.

Lloyd-Barker says all proceeds from the appeal would go directly to the prosecution fund.

"These cases are taking their toll on our resources but we have no intention of slowing down our mission to prosecute offenders," he says.