Animal Evac NZ was co-founded by former Wellington SPCA CEO Steve Glassey, who also founded the SPCA’s National Rescue Unit (formerly Animal Rescue Unit) in 1995; and also went on to train the inaugural Massey University Veterinary Emergency Response Team. Animal Evac NZ is not intended to be a technical animal rescue team, leaving such high risk operations to these teams and organisations like Fire & Emergency New Zealand.
Animal Evac New Zealand is needed to help out with large scale evacuations and associated emergency sheltering of animals as there is little to no capacity in New Zealand. Though the Ministry for Primary Industries is mandated to coordinate animal emergency welfare and rescue, no agency is mandated actually to carry out the rescues. The responsibility for animal emergency accommodation rests with the local authority, but in most cases this is under-resourced, so Animal Evac NZ can support authorities meet their obligations.
As we are not an animal law enforcement or animal rights organisation, we are a neutral charity that does not have any conflict working with farmers, laboratories, and animal owners to do the right thing on the day to help, without judgement. We are the “Red Cross” for animals affected by disaster. As we dont operate any day to day commercial activities such as veterinary clinics, doggy day care, animal boarding or grooming, we provide a space for all animal welfarists to participate, without the conflict of working with a commercial competitor.
Animal emergency management is not a competition and is not the monopoly of any one organisation, it is a community wide responsibility.
Even major animal welfare charities put frequent and repeated claims that “they are full and cannot accept any more animals”. Animal Evac NZ is always empty, ready to respond in an emergency. The reality is that local animal shelters are likely to be impacted and under further burden, so it is the interests of animal welfare to create more community based capacity to respond.
Finally, research has shown time and time again that even in resource rich states such as Texas, who had access to multiple humane societies and major military resources such as the national guard during events such as Hurricane Katrina and Harvey, there were still not enough people to help with such disasters. We need more people stepping up and being trained, not less.
We are active in working collaboratively with leading no kill animal shelters such as HUHA and others; we see ourselves as the bridging the gap between evacuation and traditional animal sheltering capacities.