MPI, biosecurity and animal welfare need a positive revamp in function. Accountability would be a positive bonus as well..

Over the years is appears that the focus of MPI has been fundamentally shifted from both biosecurity and animal welfare to be more involved with facilitating trade in primary products and in food safety.

Back when MAF (MPI) still had a surveillance function the variuos disease incursions (plants and animals) of the past few years would have likely been stopped at a much earlier point. 

The animal welfare function of MPI is presently a joke.  They are totally understaffed for the functions they are purported to be responsible for.

Why the contribution is important

Because poor biosecurity has the potential to bankrupt this country the whole system needs a positive overhaul. Relying upon the private sector for maintaining disease surveillance is false economy. Prior to 1984 and the onset of neo-liberal economics (aka Rogernomics) this country had a disease surveillance regimen second to none.  Now  disease surveillance is minimal and not readily undertaken because of the costs incurred by private individuals.

People in both the farming and the veterinary industry are of the view that it is not a case of 'if', but a case of 'when' the Foot and Mouth virus breaches our shores.  The scaling back of biosecurity at ports of entry to this country is issue.  This appears to be a purely economic decision and not based on good science.  The reduction of passenger screening which has been occurring is worrying, No Biosecurity on early morning flights at Auckland Airport is just on example..  I personally have travelled overseas on a number of occasions; in each case I was on farms and horse studs.  My declaration card made this patently obvious, but  have repeatedly been waved through the green lane with no checks on even foot wear until I insisted that my shoes and boots be taken for sanitising.  (I had cleaned them best as I could but they were not sufficiently sanitised from my personal and professional perspective.)

Bonamia went from the Marlborough Sounds to Stewart Island because of lack of  biosecurity and MPI choosing to not implement the advice of the of their expert panel.  Transparency around that debacle would be interesting.

There are insufficient animal welfare officers to cover the country.  It is patently wrong to be depending upon charities to fulfil the animal welfare functions that should be the responsibility of central government.  MPI needs to grow some chops and prosecute recidivist animal neglectors, hoarders and abusers.  'Education' just dose not cut the mustard with these sectors of society.
Animal abuse needs to come under the Crimes Act.  That way prosecutions are not forced to be the responsibility of underfunded charities.

MPI Aninal Disaster Response planning is sadly understaffed and under resourced.  What happened in the recent Edgecumbe floods made that obvious to all involved.

This discussion is probably not what you are really looking for; but it is an issue which deeply concerns me.  Thank you for your time.

by connemaranz on October 16, 2018 at 07:49PM

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  • Posted by gonetothedogs October 16, 2018 at 23:34

    Thank you so much for taking the time to raise this issue. I totally agree with you. It appears MPI has lost its direction and has become little more than a puppet bending to the will of those in primary industries while ignoring significant breaches in bio-security and animal welfare issues for both production and working animals and pets.

    In 2015 with much fanfare, the headlines read "Animals are now legally recognised as 'sentient' beings in New Zealand" With that, New Zealand took centre stage and joined the other 11 or 12 countries in the world to acknowledge the sentience of animals. According to MPI, this heralded a new age in animal welfare and a promise from MPI to work together closely with the SPCA to protect our animals.

    With something as promising as this what went wrong? Some 3 years on there has been no real reduction in animal abuse or neglect which is evidenced in, recent disturbing footage in dairy farms, chicken farms, pigs farms and live export of NZ sheep and the appalling conditions and treatment of our animals. Then there have been obvious welfare breeches yet in some cases MPI inspections denied these, but the camera's do not lie. Rather MPI seems more focused on facilitating trade in primary products and in food safety. Leaving a huge hole in the animal welfare net. That public watchdogs like Safe and Paw Justice and voluntary organisations such as the SPCA and committed private welfare agencies such as New Homes, All Paws, Chained Dogs, Furever Homes and HUHA to name just a few, are stepping up to try and fill this gaping hole. Many are personally funding medical treatment, food, housing and care as there is no provision made for this by our government,

    And with kitten season looming all these private agencies are preparing for the onslaught of abandoned and wild kittens that will all need medical care and feeding, some around the clock until they are able to be rehomed or euthanised depending on their condition. For a short period of time, a wildlife clinic in my area worked in with one of the local governments in an attempt to reduce wild kitten numbers. regrettably, the clinic had to withdraw from that as they could not afford to cover the mounting costs of care and desexing with little to no financial input from the council. Is this not an area MPI or local councils should address as wild cats are destroying our wild bird populations? Yet I see no show of hands form them to date

    Just a few days ago I donated to SPCA to enable them to take legal action to hopefully prosecute a puppy mill breeder. Why is this not being funded by our government? As a long-term animal welfare volunteer, I've seen some shocking things both here and overseas. yet it goes largely unchallenged due to lack of funding and resources. Why is MPI not stepping up here with funding? I agree animal abuse should come under the crimes act. As it is a premeditated decision to hurt, abuse and /or neglect an animal as opposed to being left to volunteer agencies to attempt to raise the money to fund a prosecution.

     The same applies to our dog pounds. Huge animal welfare issues are identified regularly in local authority pounds. One, in particular, the SPCA has issued warnings to has still not complied with them. Then there is the whole debacle of the video footage of a council animal control officer attempting to euthanise a dog with a captive bolt gun, that went viral. Paw justice called for a nationwide policy for a humane method for the euthanasia of pound animals. A well-known animal behaviourist confirmed this was an unacceptable way to destroy an animal. An MPI inspector attended the pound and reported " Overall, the council's procedures are acceptable and comply with the requirements of the Animal Welfare Act " even when the codes say the guns should be used in the presence of a senior veterinarian. The code goes on to recommend vets euthanise dogs by intravenous injection. Given it is up to MPI to set a good example and encourage others to use the best practice options as opposed to the basic levels in the code they failed to do so here and for all intents and purposes showed they have little interest in encouraging others to step up to better levels of animal welfare. So, if MPI can’t even set an example by using its own best practice methods, what is the actual purpose of including best practice in the codes?

    It goes without saying we have insufficient SPCA Animal Inspectors on the ground as they are the eyes and ears in the local communities. Just a few months ago the SPCA took on 15 people to go through a 3-month Inspector internship program. Even with these numbers they still fall short and insufficient numbers allows animal abuse to continue.

    Despite some local authorities having information about animals in civil emergencies on their websites, they do not provide any assistance with this. Edgecumbe showed this and lengths aminol care workers and volunteers went to save stranded animals. From this collaboration of people and the huge unmet need Animal Evacuation NZ was birthed, of which I am proud to be a part of. Once again funding is limited, and we work as volunteers at times paying for our own training in order to provide a service to our local communities spread New Zealand wide. While the trust is working in the background to try and source funding for certain things, each regional area still needs to fundraise to enable is we have fully operational disaster kits, personal protection gear needed by those on rescue patrols as well as sufficient cages, medical supplies etc to enable the setting up of temporary shelters and equipment for housing and caring for displaced and injured animals.

    Categorically a review of MPI and its functions in the area of animal welfare is well overdue. As is government funding for more Animal Welfare Inspectors, changes to local government pounds and more transparency from the local authorities running them, government-funded initiatives for de-sexing programs for cats to reduce our wild cat population and protect our native birds. And last but by no means least, government funding for registered animal evacuation providers to enable them to be disaster ready at any point in time.

    All of the above is of grave concern to me and it can not be allowed to go on unaddressed and poorly funded. It is well overdue for MPI to step up, deliver and enforce what they are statutorily charged to do under the Animal Welfare Act 1999, its amendments, and the resulting codes of welfare and regulations.

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