Recently the Ministry for Primary Industries released a paper for public consultation entitled “Animal Welfare Matters”, designed to provide an overview of the future direction of animal welfare standards in New Zealand. Its release coincides with a review of the existing Animal Welfare Act 1999which will consider what changes in the Act are necessary to ensure the ultimate protection for all animals in New Zealand.
David Tong (of the Human Rights Lawyers Association and legal assistant to the Pro Bono Panel of Prosecutors) noted that in such cases counsel for the SPCA should always attempt to obtain a voluntary forfeiture of the animals involved or to apply to the court for a disposal order (pursuant to s136A of the Animal Welfare Act). Such orders allow the SPCA to sell stock, re-home or euthanise animals. David Jones QC (also a member of the Pro Bono Panel of Prosecutors) noted that while animals cannot speak for themselves, when it comes to an application for a disposal order often the evidence demonstrating the animals’ condition will speak for itself and provide a basis for the Court to be satisfied there is good reason, given the physical state of the animal, to grant a disposal order.