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SPCA confiscates man's dog based on 'hearsay', he claims

Kelly Anderson's dog Pipi was taken by SPCA while he was at work.

The SPCA took Kelly Anderson's dog from his house while he was at work.

He came home on July 27 to an empty yard – his 16-month-old black labrador cross Pipi gone.

"I thought it was quite odd she wasn't at the gate to greet me, then I saw the notice taped to the front door."

Anderson says the worst thing he's ever done to Pipi is "cuddle her".

The note left by SPCA inspectors said Pipi​ lacked adequate shelter, was soaking wet and had a "slightly abnormal gait".

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It said they went to the property because the dog was "allegedly beaten" at Bishopdale Park the previous night, July 26. It asked the owner to contact the SPCA "urgently". 

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Anderson found this notice taped to his door after the SPCA took his dog, Pipi.

"I still didn't quite believe it so I went inside, went out the back and had a look for the dog anyway. Then it finally sank in that they'd just taken her," Anderson said. 

Under the Animal Welfare Act, SPCA inspectors can enter properties without a warrant to inspect an animal.

They can take an animal – by force if necessary – if they have reasonable grounds to believe it is being ill-treated or its physical, health and behavioural needs make it necessary.

Anderson worries Pipi will be suffering separation anxiety after she was taken from him by the SPCA.

Anderson said the gate was locked and the SPCA entered his property illegally.

"They managed to force the latch over the lock."

Anderson contacted the organisation and went to their Christchurch office the next morning.

He said a representative told him a member of the public alleged he kicked Pipi at the park. That person contacted police, who handed the matter to the SPCA. 

Anderson said he had never abused Pipi. He said it was a dark and rainy night at the park. The witness might have been mistaken in what they thought they saw. He guesses they took down his registration plate. 

"The worst thing I've probably done is cuddle her.

Anderson hasn't seen his dog since the SPCA seized her two weeks ago.

"It's quite odd that they'd go in and take a dog based on hearsay," Anderson said.

He said there was a kennel and two sheds on the property for Pipi to shelter in. Her abnormal gait might be from hip injury suffered before he got her.

Anderson had owned Pipi for six weeks. She had missed two puppy class lessons and an appointment to be vaccinated while in SPCA care.

He has not seen Pipi for almost two weeks and is not likely to until after a formal interview with the SPCA on Thursday.

"I can imagine she'd be pretty upset. She has separation anxiety. Even if she's sitting in the car and I'm standing right next to it she'll howl and whine if she can't physically get to me."

Anderson has sent statements from Pipi's former owner, a co-worker, and his flatmate to the SPCA attesting to his good character and suitability as a dog owner.

The SPCA is the only non-government organisation that can appoint animal welfare inspectors under the act. Police constables and some Ministry for Primary Industries staff are animal welfare inspectors.

Inspectors can keep seized animals until a district court judge orders they be returned to the owner.

An SPCA spokeswoman said the organisation could not comment on the case because it was under investigation.

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