Locally incorporated society, Te Are Manu believes it’s time for the Cook Islands to look after its own animals, and not be dependent on US charity organisation the Esther Honey Foundation, says Are Manu chairperson, Patricia Barton.
Animal welfare on Rarotonga has caused much controversy over the years, with existing animal welfare and veterinary organisations copping plenty of criticism.
The SPCA and Esther Honey clinic still offer services of their own, but the new organisation hopes to take care of what it sees as unaddressed issues.
With the development of a new animal clinic and the help of local businesses and volunteers, these issues will become a key focus, says Barton.
“The SPCA does not have vet capability but we intend to offer this. And as the SPCA takes in stray animals and re-homes them, we will solely be focusing on vet care.
“That way all animals in the Cook Islands can get the treatment they need.”
While the Esther Honey Foundation (EHF) is a charity run and based in the US, the new animal clinic will be a volunteer organisation run purely on Rarotonga, by locals.
“We will offer the same kinds of services as they (EHF) offer, however our range of services may be broader as we will cater to what the island needs, when those needs are identified. We are more than happy to work with the EHF when the need arises,” Barton said.
The clinic hopes to offer a full range of vet services, pet health services, assistance with pets travelling overseas, schooling and education on animal care, and animal welfare.
They also aim to provide training opportunities for young Cook Islanders interested in pursuing a career in animal welfare.
“We have partnered with professionals in New Zealand to set up avenues for school leavers to train with the Otago Polytechnic,” Barton said.
The Te Are Manu board also hopes to work on improving animal care legislation.
“And we want all the funding raised for animal welfare in the Cook Islands to go directly to animals in the Cook Islands, towards both education programmes and improving the quality of life for animals.
“We want to do things right, right from the start. The most important thing to us is that we start looking after our own animals and not be reliant on a foreign charity.”