An increase in dog attacks in Rarotonga has led Cook Islands Police to track a pack of up to 20 wild dogs thought to be responsible for mauling a family’s pet goats.
Three of the dogs were shot on Monday morning after two police officers tracked their whereabouts.
The dogs were followed into a hillside bush area and are estimated to number up to possibly 20.
Police spokesperson Trevor Pitt said there was a genuine concern the wild dogs were killing to survive and that a person or even worse a child might be attacked next.
These dogs were roaming in packs into various villages in search of food.
“These dogs should not be approached. We are asking people to exercise caution. On Monday, some dogs were observed to be emaciated, which would make them desperate to eat,” he said.
“The presence of pups means they are growing up in the wild as scavengers.”
The two police officers assigned to track the pack of wild dogs were out for the second time on Tuesday, but rain hampered their search.
In the past two weeks, many pet goats and cats have been attacked by what owners said are feral dogs.
In one case 11 goats owned by one family were viciously mauled by a pack of dogs in Nikao. All of the goats had to be put down.
The wild dogs have been known to police over the past few years. Up to 27 of the pack were destroyed by police last year.
Cook Islands SPCA manager Deborah Ramage said this was a very distressing circumstance for the poor family who have lost their goats.
“The origin of the issue stems from people not de-sexing their pet dogs, allowing them to breed, resulting in unwanted puppies, which are then dumped,” she said.
“The puppies grow up feral, and continue to breed, killing livestock in order to survive.”
As feral dogs are not able to be safely handled, de-sexed and rehomed, the only solution is for the police to humanely dispatch them, Ramage said.
“Ultimately, it is imperative that all dog owners take responsibility for de-sexing their dogs, so that situations like this do not reoccur.”