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Authorities ramp up dog euthanasia on Rarotonga

Thursday 23 February 2023 | Written by Joanne Holden | Published in Crime, Local, National

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Authorities ramp up dog euthanasia on Rarotonga
Not an uncommon sight in rarotonga: a pack of stray dogs on the prowl in downtown avarua. 17030828

Authorities are ramping up dog euthanasia on Rarotonga in an effort to crack down on uncontrolled animals.

Dog owners are being told to register and supervise their pets as more rangers step up patrols after 34 dogs were put down in January – a 70 per cent increase on the month before.

Police euthanised five dogs late last week and subsequently responded to complaints about dogs destroying crops on Saturday.

Thirty-four dogs were put down last month as Cook Islands Police crack-down on uncontrolled animals.  

Dogs were reportedly destroying crops in Matavera early on Saturday morning. 

“The owners of the suspected culprits were not located at the time, but the originating house is known. Still being followed up,” Police spokesman Trevor Pitt said.

“The key to dog control is owner responsibility.

“Register and supervise. Do not allow them to roam, especially following the kids to school; school areas are targeted by the Dog Rangers.”

Pitt said of the 34 dogs put down in January, 24 resulted from public complaints about dogs being a nuisance in a variety of ways, eight were strays, and two were involved in attacks on people.

“The Dog Ranger team put down five dogs on Friday, maintaining an ongoing effort to stem uncontrolled animals.”

Statistics for the number of dogs put down so far this month, and why, were not available.

For the first six months of this financial year (July to December) the Dog Ranger team put down 174 dogs.

In December, 20 dogs were put down, with just over 20 per cent of that number reported as attacks on animals with three per cent involving humans.

At least 30 per cent of those dogs destroyed were wild, and nine per cent were strays.

In January, Police Commissioner Turepu James Keenan signed off warrants for Mata Nooroa (Cook Islands SPCA), David Pokia (Cook Islands SPCA), and Dr Michael Baer (Te Are Manu Veterinary Clinic) to provide support in assisting police with dog control. 

That includes de-sexing, registration and awareness about ownership responsibility.

At the time, Pitt said another two members would join the dog ranger team, submitted by Cook Islands Security’s Chris Denny and financed by Cook Islands Tourism. 

The representatives are appointed for a period of 12 months, authorising them to assist the Police Dog Ranger team, in the efforts to manage the issues associated with dogs around Rarotonga.

Te Are Manu Vet Clinic chief medical officer Dr Baer received a warrant for the sole purpose of being able to provide veterinary care to animals needing medical treatment where the owner was either unable or refused to provide treatment, as well as for the purpose of de-sexing dogs to assist with population control.

Police “always attempt” to locate the owners of the dogs getting in trouble with the law “but unfortunately, this is not easy” as most of the animals were untagged, Pitt said.

“If located, owners often volunteer to put the dog down themselves or just opt for the Police.”

In an earlier report, Denny said he was pleased that they will now be working alongside the police force to solve the dog problem.

The Dog Registration and Animal Control Committee formed in April, 2021 consists of representatives from the Cook Islands Police Service, Ministry of Agriculture, Te Are Manu (Cook Islands) Inc., Cook Islands SPCA and Cook Islands Tourism.

It aims to strengthen the dog registration process and animal control in Rarotonga and establish a dog and animal control investment plan.

The committee also looks into community outreach programmes, a review of all legislation and regulation relating to dog registration, animal welfare and livestock, and to develop a Pa Enua animal welfare and livestock management plan. 

Further Police activity over the weekend included two arrests and a range of “minor incidents”, Pitt said.

A 30-year-old man was arrested for theft on Saturday morning before being bailed.

A 25-year-old man blew 920 micrograms of alcohol per litre of breath after allegedly being caught drink-driving at 12.55am on Sunday. The limit is 250mcg.

“Police stopped the driver on the main road at Tupapa, and he subsequently tested nearly four times the legal limit for alcohol,” Pitt said.

Initially remanded in custody, the man was granted bail on Tuesday.

“Police also attended to complaints of domestic disturbances, drunkenness, and excessive noise,” Pitt said.