SPCA to survey 600 homes

Thursday June 01, 2017 Written by Published in Local
The SPCA is wanting to know Cook Islanders’ attitudes towards dogs. 17053126 The SPCA is wanting to know Cook Islanders’ attitudes towards dogs. 17053126

The SPCA on Rarotonga is about to begin a survey of 600 households on the island to discover what Cook Islanders think about their dogs.


The survey, which is confidential, covers a 20 per cent sample of homes on the island.

Each village has been allocated a certain number of questionnaires depending upon its size.

SPCA volunteer Robyn Kippenberger told the CI News the questionnaire is part of an education plan and will help the organisation in a future dog de-sexing programme.

The questions on the survey include: If there was a dog living in the house or its environs most of the time, what sex is it, has it been sterilised and the main function of the animal? That is - is it to guard livestock, the house, or crops?

People will be asked who looks after the dog, is it allowed to roam and has it been de-flead or de-wormed?

Owners will be asked to give the animal a body-condition score from one to nine, where one is skinny and nine is obese.

At the back of the survey are questions on attitudes to dogs and dog ownership.

Questions such as if a dog is sick or injured should it be taken to a vet?

Kippenberger says: “They will inform us where we should be putting our energies and if we need to adjust our school programme.”

She says while doing the survey it would have been stupid not to ask questions about do they need assistance from the SPCA, and attitudes towards dogs.

Kippenberger says the attitude questions help tell the SPCA where it should be putting its energies.

“This information is completely confidential. It will give us the data that we need to know, where we have problems with un-desexed dogs and puppies and that means we can be much more effective.

“And we will have a plan and not just wait for animals to come in.”

The survey was funded by the United Kingdom-based Dogs’ Trust.

“The trust will assist us with dog de-sexing. They required the survey before they give us further money. They need to know the extent of what we are doing.

“When I wrote asking for the money I made it really clear it was a model for islands.

“We have control of dogs going out and dogs coming in and there is a real opportunity to control dog numbers.

“If in the middle of the United States, or Europe, you make a little hole in it because dogs travel across borders. So you can do an area, but you’ll always get leaking. But the sea stops that.

“So it is absolutely do-able to control the dog population here, but it needs a concerted effort and it needs a plan.”

Kippenberger says the trust was really excited to have an island to put a model on.

“This is the easiest one of the Pacific islands as far as dogs are concerned. When you think about dogs on Vanuatu they are starving and vicious, whereas here we have lovely dogs.” She says the trust was happy to fund the survey “so we can get it right”.

“They are looking for outcomes and so are we.”

Even though she is now off the island, Kippenberger says she will continue to work with the CISPCA and fundraise for them.

“But our primary interest and goal is to get the dog population under control. We will be de-sexing and micro-chipping everything we can find.

“Micro-chipping is the only reliable way to get wandering dogs back home.

“It is a fool’s errand to try to stop them from wandering, if it is micro-chipped we can at least get it back to its village.

“That’s all we want to do. They’ll find their way home from there.”

The SPCA will start its survey next week.    

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