The programme to de-sex thousands of dogs to curb the problem of canine overpopulation was first reported in August, but Cook Islands SPCA president Sharon Reichardt says the issue has “many tentacles.”
She says the project has to be handled “with care” and professionally.
With a count of approximately 3000 to 3500 dogs on the island, about half of these still remain capable of reproduction.
“Until the SPCA is legally empowered to collect dogs off properties and around the island, we will not be able to activate the desexing programme.”
Reichardt says they need the co-operation of the police department regardless of funds available, and that it needs a team community effort.
SPCA will be approaching and having discussions with the police department and the Ministry of Internal Affairs early next year to arrange for sufficient support and legislation to provide them with the required authority.
As the legislation currently stands, all dogs must be desexed, so Reichardt says they need police support and attendance in this matter.
Reichardt suggests that a large public awareness programme be put into place so the general public are aware firstly, that it is law that dogs are desexed, and secondly, when it will be happening and that it will be enforced.
“The desexing is going to cost a lot of money and is taking a lot of work for the SPCA committee and other supporters to put this together. So it is not something that we want to have to repeat in the near future or for it to be a fizzball.”
Reichardt says all of the committee are volunteers and have jobs, which means a lot of work on the project has to be done in their spare time.
At this late stage in the year, she says it will not be feasible to complete the programme before Christmas.
The SPCA will also be having their AGM in January next year where there will be elections for current positions, so Reichardt says it makes more sense to wait until after this.
Reichardt previously told CI News that the dog problem is becoming a matter of escalating concern, and unquestionably needs to be addressed, sooner rather than later.
She said overpopulation has resulted in dogs often being considered of little value, which impacts how they are treated.
“The SPCA has noted with extreme concern the growing number of mistreated dogs that have required emergency intervention from the SPCA, as well as veterinary treatment from the Esther Honey Foundation.”