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New Gisborne SPCA inspector - a voice for the animals

Gisborne's new animal welfare inspector says he has not looked back since joining the 70-strong SPCA inspectorate.

Bal Riki was put through his paces while training to be an inspector during the four-month SPCA inspectorate internship programme.

The SPCA is the only charity with the power to protect all animals, including prosecuting people under the Animal Welfare Act 1999, and SPCA Inspectors act as law enforcers.

Bal is a familiar face around the region. He is the third generation of his family to live and work in the area.

He has had a varied career — serving in the military for over two decades, working as an ambulance officer, 15 years as an advanced paramedic for St John, and then several years working at a logging company when he returned to Gisborne in 2013.

Bal grew up with many pets and has experience with large animals.

He lives happily with his pet cat.

His day-to-day duties include responding to animal welfare complaints about the ill-treatment or neglect of animals.

Another significant part of his duties is education, as sometimes animals are unintentionally neglected.

The role requires good investigation and people skills as the SPCA inspectorate works hard to educate people about the right way to treat animals to improve their lives in the community.

An inspector also responds to emergency situations where animals require immediate assistance.

Some instances may necessitate court action so inspectors gather evidence and prepare prosecution files, holding people to account for better animal outcomes.

The Animal Welfare Act 1999 gives an inspector certain powers to inspect an animal that might be in distress.

If the inspector has reason to believe an animal has been mistreated, they are able to take the animal into SPCA care.

If the animal has been deliberately hurt or neglected, inspectors can seek justice through the courts, acting as the voice for animals.

“The internship programme was fantastic,” said Bal.

“The challenge of learning the language involving law and veterinary medical terms was hugely fascinating to me, and it made me hungry to learn more”.

Asked about what he was looking forward to the most in his new role, Bal said he wanted to help shape people's attitudes towards caring for their animals the best way they can.

“I have an open door policy. People are ringing me already and it's fantastic being able to help where I can.”

SUCCESS STORY: One of the things Bal Riki enjoys most about his new role as SPCA animal welfare inspector is seeing the animals recover once they come into care. One example is Charlie, who was only 10 kilograms when Bal first brought him in. He is now under vet care and back to his ideal weight of 26kg. Bal said Charlie had a lovely nature and should find a new home in no time. Picture by Liam Clayton