‘Think before you get a pet dog’

Saturday September 12, 2020 Written by Published in Local

Roaming dogs and several dog attacks in random locations around Rarotonga have reignited the debate on dog owner responsibility, but what happens when the owners leave without their pets? 

Te Are Manu has a waiting list of 130 dogs and cats for de-sexing. 

Veterinarian Dr Ellen McBryde says that’s about two months’ worth of work.

Spaying and neutering is a well-known remedy to stop dogs from roaming, but McBryde says she has another theory as to why it’s such a recurring problem.

Te Are Manu has received multiple reports that people are leaving Rarotonga and their pets behind for their neighbours to take care of or the SPCA has been called.

“I'm not sure if people even consider who is going to look after their pets - they may just expect the dogs and cats to look after themselves!” she said.

“Given it is a roaming dog population here, dogs (and cats) are able to look after themselves to an extent, however if they are used to human attention and regular meals, they may struggle.”

Members of the community that have taken on caring for abandoned animals are also finding it expensive to provide them with food, McBryde said especially when they already have their own pets to feed and during these difficult times.

“It is very sad that pets can be abandoned in this way, almost as if they are not even considered in their owner's decision to move overseas,” she said.

“However we understand that this year has presented unprecedented change and some people have been forced to make the decision to leave very quickly.”

McBryde understands it is also not feasible to expect everyone who moves overseas to export their pet - it is a very expensive and complicated process, and some may only be heading overseas temporarily.

“It's a difficult problem to solve but we would just ask any member of the community to attempt to arrange reliable care for their pet prior to leaving the island,” she said.

“If this is not possible, they should get in touch with the SPCA as these dogs may be able to be rehomed or fostered.”

Police spokesperson Trevor Pitt earlier said there have been several dog attack complaints in random locations around the island received in recent weeks.

It is a recurring problem on Rarotonga and the onus lies with the owners, he said.

Pitt has spent the last years promoting the rules and legislation around dog ownership.

In January, 27 feral dogs were shot by police after a number of attacks on livestock including tethered goats and pet cats.

Due to increased workloads, police have been unable to continue this culling programme. 

1 comment

  • Comment Link William Powlyk Sunday, 13 September 2020 16:31 posted by William Powlyk

    Excellent observation but in my opinion the problem with dogs on the island desperately needs to be addressed for locals and tourists for quite some time. For the last few years, we love our trip to Rarotonga from Canada and so hope our world gets a handle on this virus and we can return to your paradise. Except for the dogs - when in Rarotonga we bicycle every day and each year confrontations with nasty dogs increase. Last year, fortunately for us a local on a motorbike got between an attacking dog and my wife on her bike. Most dogs are fine but a few are truly dangerous to people - don't get me wrong, I love dogs and have two of my own but dogs who attack people raise many questions. Moreover, packs of dogs crapping on your pristine beaches raises even more health questions for locals and tourists alike. Ah well, take care folks and all the best for the future.

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