SPCA digs in - and so does Tim

16:00, Oct 09 2009

The SPCA has threatened to cut ties with the Invercargill City Council unless it changes its dog control policy and apologises for telling its volunteers to "harden up".

Royal New Zealand SPCA national chief executive Robyn Kippenberger said she was unimpressed with Invercargill Mayor Tim Shadbolt's offer of a conditional apology last month.

The meeting followed the council's decision in August to euthanise six rottweiler-terrier puppies because they could grow to be dangerous.

Ms Kippenberger said Southland SPCA volunteers were also offended by dog control officers who said they would "chuck the puppies in a pit" and by council chief executive Richard King, who told them to "harden up" when they phoned to complain.

Mr Shadbolt said the council would apologise for its attitude if he found the Dunedin council treated its SPCA workers better than Invercargill did. He did not offer an apology for killing the pups.

Mr Shadbolt visited the Dunedin City Council last week but said he did not see enough information to warrant an apology.

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"I didn't get to see any of the complaints made against their dog control officers, so we're not ready to apologise just yet," he said.

Ms Kippenberger was less than impressed with Mr Shadbolt when contacted by The Southland Times yesterday.

"What they did was tantamount to workplace bullying and it's something other councils wouldn't get away with," she said.

"Clearly Tim doesn't want to wash away the dirt he has got on his hands over this. If his attitude is going to continue then I don't see how the SPCA can have a working relationship with the council.

"My only recourse will be to instruct the Southland SPCA not to work with the Invercargill council."

Ms Kippenberger said the whole issue had caused Southland SPCA volunteers significant emotional harm.

The issue had appeared on Australian websites, she said.

Despite not offering an apology, Mr Shadbolt said he was impressed with the dog control system Dunedin's council had in place.

Council environmental and planning services director William Watt would visit Dunedin soon to look at the cost of its de-sexing programme as well as any complaints made against its dog control officers.

If the Dunedin system proved affordable, then the council would consider adopting it, Mr Shadbolt said.

The Southland Times