EHF was founded by animal advocate Cathy Sue Ragan-Anunsen following a visit to Rarotonga, when she was befriended by “Honey” a lovely golden dog who frequented her accommodation.
While leaving a donation in appreciation of Honey’s company, Ragan-Anunsen learned that there were six thousand dogs and eight thousand cats on Rarotonga but no veterinary services in the country.
Asked to help, Ragan-Anunsen returned to her home in Oregon and began to assemble all of the components necessary to establish the Cook Islands’ only veterinary hospital and humane animal population management programme.
Named in honour of the founder’s grandmother and after that inspiring Raro canine, the Esther Honey Foundation Animal Clinic opened its doors in 1995.
They did this with the help of the local SPCA who helped prepare and furnish a small house that served as both clinic and volunteer residence.
Ragan-Anunsen says the first three member veterinary team performed surgeries on a patio picnic table and patients recovered on the “recovery lawn”.
Since then, she says services continue to be provided in exchange for donations only and all animals, including the homeless, receive the same level of veterinary care with no healthy animal ever euthanized.
Now 20 years later, the clinic has evolved into a fully operational veterinary hospital.
More than 400 veterinarians, thousands of veterinary professionals and others have travelled to the Cook Islands to treat more than 42,000 animals and sterilize more than 16,000 dogs and cats.
Last year, 97 volunteers were recruited to travel to the EHF Animal Clinic, the most in their history.
Almost 4,000 animals have been treated during their 117 ‘EHF VET TREKS’ in addition to teams providing education presentations and training programs for outer island Agriculture staff.
Ragan-Anunsen says the support of their extraordinary volunteers and valued donors has allowed them to sterilize more than 7000 Cook Islands’ dogs.
Ragan-Anunsen says EHF’s mission includes delivering compassionate and affordable veterinary services that improve the health conditions and quality of life for Cook Islands’ animals and their communities.
She says the foundation’s Board of Directors develops the programs, raises the funds and recruits the volunteers necessary to fulfil the Foundation’s mission.
The combined value of the veterinary goods and services provided by the Esther Honey Foundation and their supporters to the Cook Islands totals USD $7,578,378 since their arrival at the invitation of Cook Islander Tom Wichman in 1995.
“It has been an honor to treat the world famous sweet-natured Cook Island animals and to serve the kind and unfailingly generous Cook Islands communities over the past 20 years,” Ragan-Anunsen says.