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Sunday, 19 May 2019 10:26 pm

Archive photo captures SPCA encounter that changed a life

SPCA Wellington Archive Image. 1955. The Evening Post / Alexander Turnbull Library

Man’s best friend just made a new one! Richard Farrow (5) at the SPCA copper trail. Wellington, 1955.
CREDIT: The Evening Post, Photographer Unknown.

In 1955 a little boy dressed in his smartest coat and shoes pulled away from his Mum, dodged through the crowd and ran to a dog sitting beside an SPCA collection tin on Mansfield Street, Wellington.

As five –year-old Richard Farrow reached up to hug the dog, it turned and licked the side of his face.

It’s a perfect moment captured by an uncredited photographer for The Evening Post with a story about the SPCA’s annual appeal.

Sixty-two years later, as the annual appeal kicks off again, the SPCA has framed the old photo.

Ric Farrow is now an architect and entrepreneur and, as it turns out, his connection to the SPCA continued well beyond that candid street snap.

Mr Farrow was the architect of the Auckland SPCA’s Mangere cattery, nicknamed by some as the “Mangere Moggy Hilton” when it opened in the 1980s.

“I still remember opening day when the Governor General, she came down to open it.

“It was brilliant, you know,” Mr Farrow says.

“I used to love those people working at the SPCA.

“Such a wonderful group. Very dedicated.

“It could be quite hard at times but their hearts were in the right place always.”

A self-confessed Siamese cat fan, it’s his first dog Robbie that Mr Farrow remembers most.

The 11th puppy of an illicit “friendship” between his parents’ dog and a neighbour’s, Robbie was part of the family and Mr Farrow’s best friend.

“I was there on the day he was born and I was there on the day he died.”

When Robbie was 17, his health began to fail and Mr Farrow had to make the decision that all pet owners dread.

“It was hard taking him to be put down but I had to.

“It’s part of being a responsible and loving pet owner.”

Ric Farrow, 2017. Selfie - Ric Farrow. Supplied Photo. 2017

Ric Farrow, an architect and self confessed cat and dog lover, 2017. CREDIT: Supplied

Raising his own family, Mr Farrow had both dogs and cats, placing them among the estimated 64% of New Zealand homes that have some kind of pet according to the New Zealand Companion Animal Council’s 2016 report.

Of those homes that don’t have a pet, 68% say they would like to, with  the biggest reasons for people not having one being housing restrictions or a lack of time to spend with their furry or feathered companion.

SPCA chief executive Andrea Midgen says the appeal  is necessary to help pay for the  nearly 15,000 welfare complaints they dealt with in 2016.

“We receive almost no government funding to run the SPCA Inspectorate, which costs approximately $9 million every year.”

In Wellington alone, the SPCA cared for about 5000 animals that were sick, injured, lost, abused or had simply been abandoned last year.

As part of the appeal the SPCA has released its annual list of shame, which shows 10 cases of animal neglect or cruelty the organisation was able to intervene in due to public donations.

Find the list, and make a donation online on the SPCA website

SPCA collectors will be on the streets until Sunday with their blue and white boxes.

The photo of Richard Farrow & Dog was found in the Alexander Turnbull Library archives.
It is now framed and on display in the Wellington SPCA.


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is Christchurch born, has lived in Auckland and is loving Wellington. She believes fairness, honesty, David Bowie, and accountability are the foundations of society. Something to tell her? Hit that email button or call her (+64) 27 254 7930.
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