News Item

May 2019

Animal Welfare research recommends improved funding, inquiry into law enforcement and a Commissioner for Animals in NZ

Just released Law Foundation-funded research from the University of Otago’s Faculty of Law questions whether New Zealand’s “world-leading” animal welfare system adequately protects our furry friends, and argues the agencies charged with protecting animals need more funding.

The report Animal Welfare in New Zealand; Oversight, Compliance and Enforcement, evaluates how the Ministry for Primary Industries’ (MPI) animal welfare compliance arm and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RNZSPCA) enforce the Animal Welfare Act (1999).

Co-author Marcelo Rodriguez Ferrere says “While our findings suggest MPI and RNZSPCA generally use their resources effectively and efficiently for enforcement purposes, we concluded resource constraints prevent more prosecutions occurring. Only the most egregious breaches of the Act lead to prosecutorial action.”

The report argues the direct effect of the under-resourcing of the sector is that neither MPI nor the RNZSPCA have the capacity to engage in proactive enforcement. Instead, both agencies rely upon reactive enforcement through public compliance monitoring (complaints and reporting of offending from the public) and in some instances, industry self-regulation.

The report recommends:

  • Increasing state resourcing for enforcement of the Act – for MPI and RNZSPCA.
  • Increased funding for RNZSPCA be devoted solely to its enforcement functions, and increased oversight and accountability for these functions.
  • Public or Government Inquiry into the adequacy of animal welfare enforcement in New Zealand.
  • Establishment of an independent Office of the Commissioner for Animals in New Zealand.

This research was limited to production and companion animals. It excluded animals in Research, Testing and Teaching, and wild animals.

Animal Welfare in New Zealand; Oversight, Compliance and Enforcement – PDF, 197 pages
University of Otago media release “Animal Welfare System Provides Poor Protection – Otago Academic Calls for Change”

This project has been funded by the NZ Law Foundation up to $54,164

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