2018 Assisi Awards Winners

Each year, the New Zealand Companion Animal Council (NZCAC) presents the Assisi Awards in "recognition of outstanding service to animals" to individuals who have contributed to the welfare of animals, whether in New Zealand or internationally. The awards, named in honour of the Patron Saint of Animals, St Francis of Assisi, are an acknowledgement by the NZCAC of the achievements of those whose goals echo the principles of excellence in animal welfare.

At the Companion Animal Conference in September 2018 the NZCAC had the privilege of presenting the Assisi Awards to two very deserving individuals: Gina Kemp (SPCA National Rescue Unit (NRU)) and Pamela Howard (Dogwatch Sanctuary Trust).

Gina Kemp, Technical Rescue Coordinator with the Wellington-based SPCA National Rescue Unit (NRU), leads a group of internationally qualified emergency response volunteers who provide a technical rescue service for trapped animals. The SPCA in Wellington founded the NRU in 1995 and is the only SPCA centre in New Zealand to have such a specialist rescue capability, epitomised by the rescue of over 70 animals from the red zone immediately following the 2011 Christchurch earthquake and over 900 animals during the 2017 Edgecumbe flooding. Gina, the only Animal Rescue Technician Instructor in Oceania, organises and runs training sessions with professional organisations and has obtained Rescue3 Animal Rescue Technician Instructor Status. Since taking on her role three years ago Gina has built an outstanding team of volunteers whose services have received national recognition. In 2017 Gina clocked up over 600 hours of volunteer service in addition to her 40+ hours a week job as an SPCA Inspector in Wellington.

Pamela Howard, Manager of Dogwatch Sanctuary Trust, and her husband Neil first became involved with the organisation in 1984 when they would provide a caring, safe and friendly foster home for dogs while they were being prepared to move to their forever homes. In her tenure at Dogwatch, Pam and her husband have given thousands of hours and have seen the Dogwatch complex evolve with the addition of a second kennel block in 2014, giving the complex more capacity resulting in more dogs being housed from local authority dog shelters throughout Canterbury. Pam works tirelessly managing the complex, training volunteers and providing one on one training and assessments of all dogs that come into their care. Pam has built a strong network within the Christchurch and Canterbury community including local government, SPCA, vets and other dog rescue organisations. She is a regular and strong voice within the NZCAC Canterbury Forum and she is considered an expert in the dog rescue fraternity throughout New Zealand. Pam’s vision, determination and passion has given thousands of unwanted dogs a second chance at life.

Barry Helem, NZCAC Chair says “It is very gratifying to see these two examples of many years of self-sacrifice and dedication in service to animals recognised. The NZCAC Board is delighted to acknowledge both Gina and Pam as very worthy recipients of these prestigious awards.”

Congratulations and thank you to these two very worthy winners of the 2018 Assisi Awards.

NZCAC 2018 Conference - Human Behaviour Change for Animals

The New Zealand Companion Animal Council (NZCAC) is proud to be hosting the 27th Companion Animal Conference in Auckland from 17th to 19th September 2018.

The theme of the conference is ‘Human Behaviour Change for Animals’ (HBCA). Everyone working to improve the welfare of animals understands that human behaviour towards animals impacts on welfare and is the root cause of much animal suffering. However, changing human behaviour is not as simple as telling or showing people that animals suffer. To effect meaningful change in people’s behaviour, we need to understand the attitudes and beliefs that motivate people to behave as they do, and then find the best ways to encourage and support them to make changes that improve welfare outcomes for animals.

Barry Helem, NZCAC Chair says “It is critical that we find ways to motivate our communities to change attitudes and behaviours. To effect sustainable cultural change to improve welfare outcomes, we need to go further than traditional methods of educating. What we are looking for are deeper ways of connecting with our communities so they value and appreciate the sentience of animals in our care.”

The first international conference on Human Behaviour Change for Animal Welfare was held in the UK in September 2016. The 2018 Companion Animal Conference will be the inaugural Australasian conference exploring the HBCA theme.

The NZCAC looks forward to welcoming five keynote speakers from New Zealand and abroad: Associate Professor Ngaio Beausoleil (Massey University), Debbie Busby (Clinical Animal Behaviourist, UK), Dr Sara Dubois (BC, Canada SPCA), Professor Peter Thornber (Commonwealth Veterinary Association and Queensland University), and Dr Lynette McLeod (University of New England, Australia).

NZCAC Vice Chair, Bill Kohi says “The NZCAC is extremely excited and humbled by the calibre of keynote speakers presenting at the Conference. They bring a wealth of experience and expertise from around the world, which will be well received by the delegates attending the conference.”

The NZCAC is pleased to advise that the conference fits into the continuing veterinary education (CVE) category of Continuing Professional Development (CPD), with 1 hour of attendance equalling 1 CPD point for vets. The New Zealand Veterinary Nursing Association (NZVNA) is also accrediting CPD points for this conference with a total of 11.5 CPD points possible, depending on attendance.

According to Bill Kohi, “Providing the mechanism to acknowledge delegates learning from the content of our conference has been a welcome development. This is the first conference that the NZVA and NZVNA have acknowledged professional development of their members who attend. This is a vote of confidence for the organisers and confirms that the subject matter is relevant and valuable.”

The NZCAC is excited to be able to provide an opportunity for interested individuals to network, share experiences, and learn from leading national and international experts in animal welfare and Human Behaviour Change as part of our vision to create “a nation that values, respects and responsibly cares for companion animals.”

The 2018 Companion Animal Conference is being delivered in collaboration with SPCA New Zealand, Eastern Institute of Technology (EIT) and is supported by Human Behaviour Change for Animals (HBCA).

The full conference programme is available to view on the conference website. Please register online and follow the NZCAC Facebook page for more information.

Assisi Awards 2018 - Nominations now open

Nominations are now open for the 2018 Assisi Awards!

Each year, the NZCAC presents the Assisi Awards in "recognition of outstanding service to animals" to individuals who have contributed to the welfare of animals, whether in New Zealand or internationally.

The awards, named in honour of the Patron Saint of Animals, St Francis of Assisi, are an acknowledgement by the NZCAC of the achievements of those whose goals echo the principles of excellence in animal welfare.

If you know someone who has gone above and beyond in service to animals, please consider nominating them today.

For more information and guidance on how to submit your nomination, please visit the NZCAC website: http://www.nzcac.org.nz/nzcac/assisi-awards/about-the-awards

Nominations close Friday 20 July 2018 (5pm NZT).

NZCAC urges rabbit owners to vaccinate their rabbits immediately

New Zealand Companion Animal Council (NZCAC) Media Release 7th March 2018

With the upcoming release of the K-5 strain of the rabbit haemorrhagic virus disease (RHDV1-K5), also known as rabbit calicivirus (RCV), the New Zealand Companion Animal Council (NZCAC) urges all rabbit owners to vaccinate their rabbits immediately or ensure their rabbits are up to date with vaccinations.

It has been confirmed that the virus will be released around New Zealand, including at 100 sites throughout Otago, during March and April 2018.

New Facial Recognition Technology helps find lost pets

New Zealand is now home to one of the most sophisticated and intelligent systems in the world to find your lost pet.

‘PiP’ Facial Recognition, as it is known, will revolutionise the way we reunite lost pets with their families according to the New Zealand Companion Animal Council (NZCAC). The Council is the owner of the New Zealand Companion Animal Register (NZCAR), which has now added this highly advanced facial recognition system to the existing New Zealand Companion Animal Register services. “Combined with the New Zealand Companion Animal Register microchip database and Scanner Angel smart network ‘PiP’ Facial Recognition will add another dimension to helping find lost animals” says the NZCAC Manager, Dr Jessica Walker.