When a 4-month-old kitten was deliberately set on fire in Gore recently it prompted The Ensign chief reporter Margaret Phillips to delve into the newspaper’s files to find out how prevalent animal cruelty is in the area.
It seems there are a variety of reasons people carry out acts of cruelty on animals.
Gore and Districts SPCA shelter manager Cath McDowall said the district was no different than its northern counterparts when it came to acts of animal cruelty. In fact, it might have slightly fewer cases.
Acts of cruelty to animals could be an indicator of more deep-rooted psychological problems in the person carrying out the act, she said.
There could also be other factors involved, such as drugs and alcohol.
There had been good outcomes for some animals that had been subject to cruelty and been taken in by the SPCA. One example was Gerald the ginger cat that was found abandoned with its ears cut off in 2016, she said.
Gerald had healed and was now in a new home.
One of the most prevalent acts of cruelty was dumping unwanted animals, Mrs McDowall said.
Why people thought it was OK to dump cats at farmers’ gates did not seem logical to Mrs McDowall.
“It has a flow-on effect,” she said.
The animals turned feral and bred, which endangered birdlife.
She urged people to be responsible when it came to animals.
Gore Counselling Centre manager Bill Rout said cruelty to animals and people had always happened but with easy access to social media the awareness of such acts seemed to have been heightened.
Acts of cruelty could also be carried out to seek attention, he said.
The heightened media awareness might result in a higher tolerance to violence, Mr Rout said.
The acts might be carried out by people who had no empathy for animals or had experienced previous trauma in their lives.
Mataura family worker John Ranstead said the latest incident involving the kitten being burnt could have been an accident as the full facts were not yet available.
He believed in the philosophy of not guilty until proven otherwise.
“But it does seem downright cruel,” Mr Ranstead said.
He had not come across any acts of cruelty towards animals in his work in Mataura.
Pukerau Boarding Kennels and Cattery co-owner and dog agility competitor Rae Evans said in some cases people who treated animals badly had been treated badly themselves.
However, she described cruelty to animals as “needless violence”.
She urged people with a tendency towards violence to find a purpose in life and pour their energy into that.
Gore animal cruelty cases
In September 2008 Gore and District SPCA volunteers were shocked and angered by people who continued to use gin traps in the area after a pet cat lost a leg.
March 2010: Three dead kittens were found in a small inlet of the Mataura River.
February 2011: A decomposing body of dog tied to a tree in a forestry area near Te Tipua was discovered.
March 2012: The bodies of more than 13 cats and a bag of kittens dumped in a bin used to dispose of hot ashes from the Mataura Swimming Pool were discovered.
October 2014: A cat was caught in a gin trap.
November 2014: The Gore and District’s SPCA reminded people it was illegal to dump animals after two boxes of kittens were found at different locations in Gore.
May 2016: A ginger cat with its ears cut off was abandoned.
In May 2017: A kitten was put into a Child Cancer clothing bin in East Gore.