SAFE calls for independent animal welfare body

SAFE wants an independent body to ensure mistreatment of bobby calves and other examples of animal cruelty do not happen.

SAFE wants an independent body to ensure mistreatment of bobby calves and other examples of animal cruelty do not happen.

Like "the fox looking after the henhouse" - that is how animal welfare group SAFE views the fact that the Ministry for Primary Industries is responsible for animal welfare.

Instead it would like to see an independent body established.

"It isn't right that it's within MPI because they are always thinking of the bottom line and not about animals," SAFE campaigns manager Mandy Carter said.

This will be just one of the issues SAFE will raise when it meets with Fonterra and DairyNZ next week to discuss its concerns.

Carter said her organisation would also be talking about the steps industry could take to improve animal welfare, such as tighter monitoring of livestock trucks and slaughterhouses.

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Thousands sign anti-SAFE petition to revoke charitable status

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At a political level, it would like to see the National Party create an animal welfare spokesperson, in the same way as Labour and the Greens have.

Carter said the group had raised the ante with its Guardian "New Zealand dairy was contaminated with cruelty" advert because in the past the Government had not acted on its concerns.

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"We've done many exposés over the years and we find there's an initial outcry, the Government waits a few months then releases a bland statement saying they've found nothing wrong and couldn't prosecute.

"That's where the ad came from, to make sure it won't happen again," Carter said.

SAFE concerns were both with the immediate problem of animal cruelty, but also with the inherent brutality of removing calves from cows.

However Carter said she realised the second issue would be more difficult to achieve change because it depended on people changing their lifestyles and eating habits.

As a petition asking the Charities Commission to revoke SAFE's charitable status climbed over 8000, SAFE managing director Debra Ashton said she was aware of the petition but happy to go through the proper process.

A spokeswoman for the Commission said it took just one person to make a complaint about a charity.

If an investigation showed there was serious wrongdoing or the organisation was not complying with their charitable purposes, then it would have its status revoked.

Decisions were made by the independent Charities Board which meets monthly.

Massey University senior lecturer in communication Dr Chris Galloway said that in any issue such as animal rights, people were not swayed by facts.

"People take action based on a mix of their emotions, values and beliefs - and facts, but facts don't come first."

"For the sector to respond and manage the issues, it requires an understanding of the emotional dimensions, and assuming simply giving the facts about how animals are treated here will not be enough," Galloway said.

It was better to meet with activists than to ignore them because that gave a clearer idea of where they were coming from, he said.

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 - Stuff

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