4 Feb 2023

Group busy keeping animals' welfare to fore amid flood crisis

2:10 pm on 4 February 2023
Boarder collie on an organic farm.

Animals have been rescued and others are being fed and looked after by HUHA. Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

The massive scale of clean-up in Auckland is becoming clearer as the floodwaters recede.

Harrowing accounts of lives lost and damage to property have been coming through all week.

But the record-breaking flash floods also affected pets and livestock.

Welfare charity Helping You Help Animals (HUHA) was one of many organisations working on the ground.

Founder Carolyn Press-McKenzie told First Up this week she had been working 20-hour days with her team to help pet owners affected by the natural disaster.

On Wednesday, they hit the road shortly after wrapping up an overnight shift at a Warkworth emergency shelter.

Their final stop for the day was at the Mangere Recreation Centre, which had been converted into a temporary relief centre.

"A lot of these people have homes that are red stickered or wet or they've just sort of lost furniture or clothing, but our purpose is helping them with their animal supplies."

The HUHA team was dropping off crates, pet food, blankets.

Inside the centre various agencies had set up counters offering support and supplies.

The animal section was busy - staff were sorting supplies while others were helping a steady stream of people who turned up to collect pet food.

But dropping off animal essentials wasn't HUHA's only job.

Press-McKenzie said her team had made at least 12 critical rescues this week.

She said they had saved a three-and-a-half week old puppy that had lost its mother and its siblings had drowned.

The puppy was now in a sanctuary, she said.

But not all pets were as lucky. An owner lost eight sheep as they were swept away and drowned during the first bout of torrential rain last Friday.

But she managed to reach out to HUHA before the next round of flooding.

"We picked up four of her cows and two of her remaining sheep and we managed to get them to a country lodge sanctuary."

Had the owner not contacted HUHA, Press-McKenzie said, she would have lost the animals as the paddocks were flooded again.

The team were also assisting with pet-related errands for some people.

Press-McKenzie said they had been helping people get to the vets.

"We also had a little puppy that had been playing in the flood waters and got quite ill with a gastro [bug] and there was a chance it was parvo."

They took the puppy to an after-hours vet and he tested negative for parvo.

She said HUHA paid for the vet as the family was not in a position to do so.

Some people were choosing to live in damaged homes because they don't want to send their pet to a shelter, she said.

"They are at home in a situation where it's wet or maybe, you know it's not safe to be in those environments."

Her team had been working alongside the Ministry of Primary Industries to help these owners find appropriate accommodation.

"It's a very trying time and it's such a vast situation."

At today's 1pm briefing, Auckland Emergency Management duty controller Rachel Kelleher said services were working hard to support animal welfare following the floods.

"We know that during times like this people have to leave their homes. Often one of the barriers to them doing that is separation from their pets."

Kelleher said Auckland Council's shelters were available to temporarily house pets if their owners were in need on help.

And they did not want the lack of microchipping or registering to be a barrier.

That service was being offered free to anyone who needed help following the floods, she said.

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