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19 July 2022

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Committee ramps up neutering programme

Monday 4 July 2022 | Written by Matthew Littlewood | Published in Local, National

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Committee ramps up neutering programme
Minister for tourism Patrick Arioka. PHOTO: CALEB FOTHERINGHAM/22020809

Dog control in the Cook Islands is to be ramped up over the next few months, as an initiative to have all surveyed dogs neutered and registered continues.

The strategy, which has been drawn up by Dog Registration and Animal Control Committee, will focus on the 2640 dogs surveyed last year.

Tourism Minister and Committee chairman Patrick Arioka said it was entering the second stage of its neutering programme.

“We’re encouraging all dog owners to come, to bring their dogs to one of the veterinary clinics to get them neutered and to the police to get them registered, if they haven’t done either,” Arioka said.

“We’re stepping up the programme as we realise this is an important issue.”

Arioka said dog owners had until the end of October to get their dogs registered, or else would be subject to a fine or could even have their dogs destroyed.

“We’re trying to tie up all the loose ends,” he said.

Cook Islands Police spokesman Trevor Pitt said the desexing is a prerequisite to registration. 

“So that must be supported in the first instance,” Pitt said.  

“In any event, police are continuing to uphold a priority to attend to complaints about menacing and roaming dogs. Prosecutions will be pursued as the cases allow. Dogs are being destroyed on a regular basis.”

A week ago, police confirmed a three-year old had been attacked by a dog in Tupapa, while there have been several reports of dog attacks over the past few months.

Arioka said of the 2640 dogs surveyed, just 53 per cent had been neutered and registered.

“That’s why we’re ramping up the programme over the coming few months. It’s a major issue in the Cook Islands, people are often worried about stray dogs in particular,” he said.

Castaway Resort owner Paul Ash, who has often complained in the media about Rarotonga’s issues with stray dogs in particular, said he was pleased to hear something was going to be done.

“I’m really heartened that they’re deciding to put their foot down on the issue,” Ash said.

“What would be really great would be if the police could spare a couple of people for nightly patrols just rounding up stray dogs wandering all over the place.”

Ash said most evenings dogs would be barking incessantly for hours.

“You hear them going at it from midnight to 4am, sometimes longer. It’s because they’re wandering off, and they’re so territorial,” he said.

“The dogs simply need to be chained overnight.”