“We get a lot of feedback from tourists regarding the dog population on the island. Some of it positive and some negative,” he says.
“Some visitors, who come from countries where there are stricter regulations around dog movements, get intimidated. They don’t realise how friendly the dogs are.
“But dogs can become a nuisance, when they are barking, fighting. If food is put out in the rubbish, dogs can get into it.
“So from that point of view we do understand there is an issue, it’s a small issue but very visible, and we don’t need it when trying to entertain visitors.”
He says there is also the underlying problem around animal welfare. “This programme and our dog issues need to have our full community support.”
The pilot de-sexing programme for dogs in Rarotonga has continued to remain on target since it started just over a month ago.
The programme is primarily funded by Dogs Trust UK.
Te Are Manu is housing the project by providing a surgery and the operating room and equipment will be left to Te Are Manu once the programme has ended.
Co-ordinating the project is Care Vets NZ. Care Vets NZ founder Dr Keith Houston says that there is a lot riding on the programme’s success as it may be replicated in other Pacific Islands.
The SPCA is co-coordinating the programme and it was former SPCA members Robin Kippenberger and Stephanie Saunders who had done the early groundwork in applying to Dogs Trust UK for the grant.
SPCA have also made a sizeable donation to the project.
A recent SPCA survey showed that of the nearly 4000 dogs on the Island, about 2500 had already been de-sexed. And of the remaining 1500, the programme will address over half that number.
“This will make a huge impact on the reproductive capacity of the dog population on the island,” says Houston.
The free de-sexing pregame is by appointment by calling into Te Are Manu or phoning SPCA country manager Tony Jamieson on 25097.
Resources and time is limited and dog owners or carers are urged to make contact to ensure their place.
- Dogs should be over four months of age
- Pregnant dogs can undergo the treatment
- Nursing dogs should wait for about eight weeks after the birth of their pups
- Dogs should not be fed at all on the morning of their treatment
- Dogs should be dropped off from 8.30am and picked up the same afternoon.
- Female dogs will need special care in the week following their operation, needing to be kept tied up in the shade with water, giving them the chance to heal safely.
“Recovery is an important part of the whole process,” says Houston.