Some people get confused about the SPCA - there's the RNZSPCA and your local SPCA - what's the difference?

The national RNZSPCA is an over-arching body with strong affiliation to 48 regional SPCAs.  It helps and supports them all.  Most of the 48 regional SPCAs are full branches of the RNZSPCA, but there are a few more autonomous member societies such as Wellington SPCA and the Otago SPCA that are more independent.

All of these organisations have Animal Welfare Inspectors that are trained with the support of MAF, and the RNZSPCA provides ongoing training for inspectors and for the regional SPCA education officers.

The RNZ branches and the member societies each manage their own finances.  All of them rely almost entirely on donations and legacies from the public.  They get very little financial help from the government.

Although the RNZSPCA and its member societies are financially separate organisations, they are all animal welfare charities that rely entirely on public support, they have the same aims and they work closely together.  Essentially both exist to protect and help animals in the community, but the regional SPCAs deal in a practical way with local animal welfare problems while the RNZSPCA is more politically active, dealing with national animal welfare issues such as battery hens and sows in stalls.

The RNZ has a well-earned reputation as a reasonable and powerful advocate of animal welfare and it has an important role in representing animal welfare interests on a number of powerful government committees such as those that determine the animal welfare legislation.

Your local SPCA has two main roles - to investigate animal cruelty complaints and to take in and rehome animals.

The complaints are investigated by the local SPCA Inspector (and it's important to remember that the name of the person who made the complaint will not be revealed).

The other main role of the local SPCAs is to provide a haven for animals that are sick, injured, or that have been abandoned.  They also take in animals that are simply unwanted if the owners have made genuine but unsuccessful attempts to rehome them.  The SPCA provides a safe haven for as many of these animals as possible until they can be found suitable homes.

If you would like to donate to the SPCA, the money you give to RNZSCPA goes towards national causes, and if you donate money to the member societies it is used locally to benefit animals in their region.  But in the end, it doesn't matter which organisation you donate to because either way animals are the beneficiaries, and that's what counts.

From Marjorie Orr, veterinarian (retired) and lifestyle farmer