Thursday, 21 July 2016 13:55

Expect a court summons for bobby calf abuse – MPI

Written by  Peter Burke
MPI's Scott Gallacher. MPI's Scott Gallacher.

With new regulations on bobby calves in force from August 1, MPI is encouraging people to report breaches.

The rules ban trucking bobby calves younger than four days old, set 12 hours as the maximum journey time, prohibit the shipping of young calves across Cook Strait and forbid 'blunt force' (blow to the head) killing of calves except in an emergency.

MPI's deputy director-general Scott Gallacher says the vast majority of New Zealand farmers do the right thing day-to-day in the welfare of their animals; MPI is confident the welfare message has got out to farmers.

"We are not only working with all the players in industry; we have undertaken a media campaign direct to consumers, the public and farmers to make sure everyone knows that if they see anything causing concern [they should] contact MPI and we'll get to the bottom of it."

MPI's campaign on the new regulations is to alert anyone interested in animal welfare to their right to call the ministry, Gallacher says.

"I am encouraging people to reach out on any issue. It might well be an education programme all round because we are aware that people often see something that concerns them. I don't want them left in the dark with no-one to talk to.

"It is quite powerful for us when we get back to people and say 'we have investigated that and it wasn't what you thought; it was actually this situation and there was no breach of the animal welfare rules'. From our perspective it is part of an education process in having had a conversation with them."

Gallacher says this is part of the process of reassuring the public that MPI will investigate any complaint and if there is a breach of regulations it will prosecute.

"As soon as we have information in front of us that highlights offending then we prosecute.

"In fact... on the bobby calf issue that played out last year we prosecuted one case, had a guilty plea and we have currently got a company director in court and we are continuing to investigate.

"We also have other prosecutions underway relating to animal welfare issues. We want people to see that we take this seriously and that we prosecute people who break the law."

Gallacher says MPI is trying to hold to account the "minority" of people who don't look at the rules, or who ignore the rules and do not consider the rights of animals.

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