The dropping of charges against a Whanganui greyhound trainer is not distracting the SPCA from its mission to protect animals.
A bid to prosecute Brendon Cole for allegedly live-baiting animals will not go ahead. After new evidence emerged, the SPCA decided to drop the prosecution "with a heavy heart".
"Good evidence that was presented to us from multiple sources and as an organisation our decision to lay charges was reasonable and proper... With [the] presentation of new evidence, as a responsible regulator, we also have a duty to withdraw charges when we may no longer be in a position to prove charges to the high threshold of 'beyond a reasonable doubt' as required in law," the SPCA said in a statement on Friday afternoon.
The greyhound training rules in New Zealand are clear: "Only artificial materials are permitted for use as a lure".
Using animals, either dead or alive, is forbidden - but the practice of using live animals as bait is believed to make dogs run faster.
SPCA head of inspectorate Tracy Phillips says they're frustrated but will remain focused.
"When we've got evidence that animals are being ill-treated and abused, we will absolutely continue to investigate and lay charges, where appropriate."
She has concerns with the greyhound industry as a whole.
"At the end of the day we've got to look at what our purpose is, and there is no doubt animals used in live-baiting would have suffered incalculable harm and terror."
Cole had denied the charges. The SPCA said it stood by its decision to charge him in the first place.
Newshub spoke to multiple former workers of Cole's last year who claimed he regularly used live bait as part of his training regime. One said he saw it happen weekly.
"Quite simply, I never saw live animals being tortured by anyone until I worked for Brendon."
Newshub was unable to reach Cole for his side of the story.