Secretary of Agriculture Temarama Anguna-Kamana said this week that there would be no new animal welfare bill; instead officials would look to work some protections into the existing Wandering Animals Act 1976.
The announcement came after Cook Islands News questions about who would take responsibility for the condition of large pigs in two small pens at the back of Avarua. In one, live pigs stepped around a dead one, cover in flies. In the other, four pigs could barely move because the pen was so small. They had no water.
Since 2015, the Ministry of Agriculture and the Crown Law office had said they were working to modernise the Animal Welfare Act.
Agriculture staff said it was not clear who was responsible for dealing with acts of cruelty, and they did not have power to enter onto private property to investigate a complaint or to prosecute an animal owner.
But neither were animal welfare groups allowed to act. Kamana said they did not want the SPCA or Te Are Manu clinic responding to livestock issues until they can meet to make formal agreements.
The Te Are Manu clinic is located behind the Ministry of Agriculture and they have called on assistance from the veterinarians before for injured livestock. And in the past the SPCA were often the first responders to livestock neglect.
The SPCA’s new country manager Deborah Ramage said they believed there was room to improve the animal welfare legislation in the Cook Islands.
She agreed the Ministry of Agriculture was responsible for livestock issues – the SPCA did not have the resources or facilities to care for livestock in need, she said.
So they had agreed to develop a memorandum of understanding with the Ministry of Agriculture and Te Are Manu Vet Clinic, to clarify roles and responsibilities.
“We wish to work together to promote humane education and improved treatment of all animals in the Cook Islands,” said Ramage.