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Dog desexing receives cash boost

Wednesday 14 December 2022 | Written by Matthew Littlewood | Published in Local, National

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Dog desexing receives cash boost
Cook Islands Tourism Corporation sustainable tourism manager Sieni Tiraa presents the Vaka Pride Award to vet Dr Michael Baer. 22121309

A major animal desexing programme is among the recipients of a special community awards fund.

The 23rd round of the Vaka Pride awards, held on Tuesday, distributed a total of $11,000 towards a series of community initiatives.

The awards celebrate sustainability and promotion of Cook Islands culture and tourism.

Among the recipients was Dr Michael Baer of Te Are Manu vet clinic, who received $3500 towards the next stage of the dog desexing programme.

Baer said he was “absolutely delighted” with the prize, as it would ensure there was enough resources for the third desexing programme to occur next year.

“The first two we did desexed close to 400 dogs on the island. It was successful because of all the agencies who worked together with us, particularly on the Dog Registration and Animal Control Committee (DRACC),” he said.

“This funding will go towards the purchase of medication and consumables.”

Baer said the programme benefited a lot of people.

“That’s why organisations such as the Police and Ministry of Tourism support it. Stray and roaming dogs are a big problem in the Cook Islands, and the more dogs we’re able to desex, the more sustainable the population will be,” he said.

“I would love the next round of desexing to target up to 150 dogs, that way we can get on top of a number of issues that the island has with dogs.”

Also among the recipients at the Vaka Pride Awards was Bruce Goldsworthy of Maunga Tours, who received $1000 towards maintenance of walking tracks around Rarotonga.

“The big one is the cross-island track, that’s the one that gets the most people participating because it can cater for a range of fitness levels,” Goldsworthy said.

“It’s a deceptively tricky trek, it’s not too long, but it is very rugged and it does connect people to nature.”

Goldsworthy said he had also engaged in predator control programmes, including baiting for rats, and recently had noticed an increase in bird life on the track.

“I’m looking forward to the downtime for visitors over the next few months, because that means I can do a lot of the hard work of upkeep before the next high season,” he said.

Meanwhile, students from Tereora College received $1500 towards the Turangavaevae performance at the end of the year.

Year 13 student Heinarii Tauira said the funding would go towards covering aspects such as costumes and music.

“It was a really intense performance; a lot of work went into it. For instance, I had to get a song composed for one of my dances, that cost a bit of money in itself,” Tauira said.

“But it was such a great experience, I enjoyed working with all the students.”

Cook Islands Tourism Corporation sustainable tourism manager Sieni Tiraa said the award winners championed the environment, sustainability and culture.

Other winners included Mark Short & Jane Rubena – Manavanui, Peu Maori award ($1500), and village contractors from Akaoa, Matavera, Ruaau, Ruatonga, Takuvaine, Tupapa and Murienua, which received $545 each to go towards further beautification programmes.