INDEPENDENT NEWS

SPCA Outraged By Online Dolphin Auction Hoax

Published: Fri 30 Sep 2005 03:49 PM
SPCA Outraged By Online Dolphin Auction Hoax
- POSTING PROVOKES DAMAGING TRANS-TASMAN FURORE -
(COPY OF POSTING ATTACHED)
The Royal New Zealand SPCA has expressed outrage at a hoax posting on the ‘Trade Me’ website, offering a dolphin for sale by auction.
According to the posting, made from West Auckland, the dolphin was being kept in a swimming pool after being accidentally caught in a net during a weekend fishing trip.
The SPCA describes the hoax as a “totally irresponsible attempt at self-promotion” at the expense of New Zealand’s international reputation as a nation that cares for animals.
“We have been inundated with emails and telephone calls from people concerned both that the dolphin was being kept in a pool and that it was being offered for auction,” says the Royal New Zealand SPCA’s National Chief Executive, Robyn McDonald.
“Many of the emails came from Australia. While the majority of these simply expressed their concern, there were also comments along the lines of ‘Kiwis will sell anything’. Even though the posting has now been revealed as a hoax, our national reputation will still have sustained some damage.
“Investigating the incident has used-up precious time and resources on the part of the SPCA. As a charitable organisation, dependent on the donations of members of the public, we do not want to fritter these resources away on the investigation of hoaxes.
“We understand that the hoaxer is now offering to recompense the SPCA for the trouble he has caused. While his donation will be welcome, he should have considered the damage he was likely to inflict before indulging in this totally irresponsible attempt at self-promotion.
“A further concern is the cost to the taxpayer resulting from the Department of Conservation’s investigation of the matter. Once the hoax was posted, DOC had no alternative but to investigate, in order to corroborate our initial findings. But, clearly, it would have been better if the issue had never arisen.”
Robyn McDonald praises the speed with which ‘Trade Me’ withdrew the posting as soon as it was approached but says that the item should have been screened by the website prior to being posted. “It raises questions about what other illegal trades could occur on this highly regarded and professional site,” she says.
“This incident exemplifies the power of the internet. The posting was online for less than two hours before being withdrawn. This, however, was long enough to generate an international furore. There are lessons here for all of us who care about New Zealand’s global reputation as an animal friendly country,” she adds.

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