Worrying number of pets continuing to be locked in vehicles

The AA and NZ Companion Animal Council are warning pet owners to not leave their four-legged friends in vehicles during the hot summer ahead as figures show no respite in the number of AA callouts for trapped pets.

AA Roadservice has attended more than 4000 callouts nationwide for animals locked in vehicles since 2012, at an average of 52 callouts a month or 637 callouts a year. By October 31 this year, Roadservice Officers had already attended more than 530 callouts for locked animals.

AA National Roadservice Manager John Healy says pet owners should never leave their pet locked in a vehicle.

“ The temperature inside a vehicle with no or little ventilation rises rapidly, particularly in summer and it doesn’t take long before a pet gets agitated and suffers the effects of heat exhaustion which can have potentially fatal consequences.”

The NZ Companion Animal Council is backing the AA’s warning, and is hoping new regulations which give animal welfare inspectors the power to fine people for leaving a dog in a hot vehicle will increase awareness of the associated risks.

As of October 1, if a dog left in a vehicle becomes heat stressed; the dog owner, vehicle owner and person left in charge of the dog can each be fined $300 under the Animal Welfare (Care and Procedure) Regulations 2018. If the complaint warranted further enforcement action, people could also face prosecution.

New Zealand Companion Animal Council (NZCAC) Acting Operations Manager Bianka Atlas says they have a simple message for dog owners.

“If the purpose of your trip is not to take your dog somewhere, please leave your dog at home.”

On a 30°C day, the temperature inside a vehicle can reach 39°C in less than 5 minutes; in 30 minutes, it will be 49°C. This occurs even if the vehicle is parked in the shade with the windows down.

“Unlike humans, dogs can’t sweat to regulate their body temperature and rely on panting to cool down. Heat overpowers this function, placing them at risk of irreversible organ damage and death,” Atlas says.

Signs that indicate a dog is heat stressed include: shade seeking behaviour, excessive panting, excessive drooling, and hyperventilation.

Anyone who sees a dog suffering in a hot car is urged to call the Police, SPCA or AA immediately.

The AA immediately prioritises any calls involving children or pets locked inside a vehicle. Two Roadservice Officers arrive at the scene regardless of whether the person is an AA Member or not. If the situation is deemed to be serious, the AA also notifies the Fire Service in case there is a delay in arrival.

To call the AA for emergency lockout assistance, dial 0800 500 222 or *222 from mobile phones.

For more information contact:
John Healy
AA Roadservice National Manager
New Zealand Automobile Association
T. +64 9 966 9315
M. +64 21 723 519

Bianka Atlas
Acting Operations Manager
New Zealand Companion Animal Council
M. +64 21 555 285

The New Zealand Automobile Association is an incorporated society with more than 1.6 million Members. It represents the interests of road users who collectively pay more than $2 billion in taxes each year through fuels excise, road user charges and GST.

The NZCAC is a national not-for-profit organisation, which lobbies and advocates on behalf of companion animals. The NZCAC works to create a nation that values, respects and responsibly cares for companion animals and is funded via profits raised from the New Zealand Companion Animal Register (NZCAR). For more information, please visit us on Facebook or contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Companion animal safety during Guy Fawkes celebrations

With Guy Fawkes less than a week away, the New Zealand Companion Animal Council (NZCAC) urges everyone to consider the safety and well-being of animals.

Each year during Guy Fawkes season, animal shelters and council pounds receive hundreds of calls and are inundated with lost, frightened and injured animals. The loud noises and bright flashes of light can be extremely distressing for animals and a common response is to attempt to escape and run away. Guys Fawkes can also be a distressing time for animal owners and the NZCAC wishes to remind people to be considerate of those in their neighbourhood who share their homes with companion animals.

“It is common to see an increase in missing and lost animals during the fireworks season, so it is important that owners ensure their companion animals are microchipped with contact details up to date on the New Zealand Companion Animal Register” says NZCAC Acting Manager, Bianka Atlas.

Ms Atlas says there are various ways companion animal owners can minimise the risk of harm and keep their animals safe and comfortable during Guy Fawkes.

“Plan ahead – create a safe place inside your home where your animals can retreat if they become frightened. A crate in a room with the curtains closed and some background noise such a TV or radio can work well for dogs.

“If possible, stay at home with your animals and provide calm reassurance. If that is not possible, arrange for someone else that your animal knows to stay with them in your absence.”

“Walk your dog during daylight hours to avoid being out at dusk when fireworks are more likely to be set off.”

“Move horses or stock to a safe and secure paddock or stable.”

“If your animal has a real phobia of loud noises, talk to your veterinarian in advance as they will be able to recommend some options to help you manage your animal’s anxiety.”

NZCAC’s tips for keeping your animals safe this Guy Fawkes:

• Ensure your animals are microchipped and your details are up to date on the New Zealand Companion Animal Register.
• Ensure your animals are wearing a collar with appropriate identification tags.
• If possible, stay at home when fireworks are going off as animals may feel more anxious and afraid if left alone.
• If you can’t be at home with your animals, try to arrange someone to come over and keep them company.
• If your animals must be home alone, organise a safe, dark, quiet place inside your home. A dog crate with a towel or blanket placed over the top (ensure there is still adequate ventilation) is an ideal spot for dogs.
• It may be helpful to turn on the TV or radio to muffle the sound of the fireworks.
• Make sure all doors, windows and gates are closed to prevent animals escaping.
• Take your dog for a long walk during the day to get rid of excess energy.
• Avoid walking your dog after dusk, when fireworks are more likely to be set off.
• Provide your dogs with a fun way to take their mind off what’s going on outside – a long lasting chew toy such as a Kong can keep dogs busy for hours.
• If you have horses or stock, move them to a safe and secure paddock or stable and check on them regularly.
• If you have fireworks stored inside your house, ensure they are kept out of reach of animals as they contain substances which can be harmful if ingested.


For more information contact:
Bianka Atlas – Acting Manager, New Zealand Companion Animal Council
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

About the New Zealand Companion Animal Council
The NZCAC is a national not-for-profit organisation, which lobbies and advocates on behalf of companion animals. The NZCAC works to encourage New Zealand to become a nation that values, respects and responsibly cares for companion animals. The NZCAC is funded via profits raised from the New Zealand Companion Animal Register (NZCAR).
Follow us on Facebook.

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).