Te Are Manu’s vets saved four puppies last week who were covered in tar from a shipping container.
It was hard work to clean the puppies, says volunteer vet Ellen McBryde, and they would have struggled without the clinic and SPCA volunteers. “One was more tar than puppy.”
Rarotonga has three vets. Yesterday, German volunteer Anika Fleischer flew out; soon, British vet Dr Katie Thompson must leave.
McBryde will be the only vet left – and the travel restrictions stop any more flying in.
Te Are Manu says Covid-19 is making it hard to continue its operations on Rarotonga and the Pa Enua. With borders closed to tourists, their much-needed donations have almost dried up.
The clinic says cash donations for flea and worm treatments and veterinary services are now more important than ever, as they are having to purchase more supplies because they can no longer rely on visitors to bring them over.
Clinic president Patricia Barton said the impact of the travel ban on animal health and welfare was multi-faceted. “Tourists also help to keep a watchful eye on the many ‘beach dogs’ on the island and will seek medical care for these dogs should it be needed.
“Of course, the vast majority of our work comes from the local community seeking veterinary care for their pets and the occasional bird, crab, or eel.”
During the Covid-19 pandemic, locals had been incredibly supportive.
The clinic and its supporters are hoping to organise a fundraising event soon. “We know these are trying times however we think a fun night out might be just what we need,” Barton added.
Having three vets here when the borders closed had allowed them to operate “business as usual” under the leadership of clinic manager Debbie Topp, assistant manager Pip Henderson, and local volunteer Karo Numanga.
That would now change. They had not had a veterinary nurse since February and would be advertising for a part-time vet assistant in the coming week. And they needed volunteers to help out at.
The clinic is still providing 24/7 emergency after-hours services, despite being short-staffed.
* For general vet care, call 27719 to make an appointment during working hours. For genuine medical concerns, they can be contacted after-hours on 57206.