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On a mission in Mangaia: Desexing dogs, cats and a goat

Tuesday 19 July 2022 | Written by Supplied | Published in Opinion, Pet Talk

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On a mission in Mangaia: Desexing dogs, cats and a goat
A happy Mangaian resident with her dog. SUPPLIED/22071801

Te Are Manu is the only vet clinic in the Cook Islands and we want to serve the community of the Cook Islands, not just Rarotonga. We hope to be able to visit as many of the Pa Enua as we are able at regular intervals, writes clinic’s medical director Dr Michael Baer.

A combined team from Te Are Manu and the Cook Islands SPCA were lucky enough to visit Mangaia for a week at the start of July.

We left Rarotonga on the 9am flight, with a sense of excitement. After what can only be described as a scenic flight around Rarotonga and over Muri beach, we were able to see Mangaia’s runway through the front of our aeroplane. And then the amazing Makatea came into view. 

Anthony Whyte, the executive office of the Island Council which had been kind enough to invite us to make this trip, met us and we gathered our goods, settled into our accommodation, and got straight into our first afternoon of work. 

We had fantastic support from the Ministry of Agriculture, in the form of Tuara George and George Marurai who did a lot of our organising for this first clinic and throughout our stay, and Marilyn Nooroa volunteered her time to assist with nursing duties. Without their local knowledge and their practical input we would have been lost.

After seven dogs and three cats on that first day we were free to go exploring.  And there is so much to explore. For those who have been, you will know, for those who haven’t, you should.

On Saturday, Tuara George gave us a real treat, inviting us to the opening of the AOG Tivaevae show. The pieces on display were beautiful and the meal that followed was fabulous. We felt very blessed to be invited. 

Monday was Oneroa, the main township. Along with the usual cats and dogs there was also a home visit to castrate and health check a goat. On Tuesday we began the day in Tamarua, more dogs, more cats, then a trip across to Ivirua, to get a jumpstart on Wednesday. Wednesday was our biggest day, Ivirua came out in numbers. Thursday was back to Oneroa and one of the highlights of the week for the team – the students from Apii Mangaia came down to visit and watch a couple of operations. What a thrill for us that was, it was great to see enthusiastic, interested, young people asking lots of questions.

By the end of the trip we had desexed 56 dogs and 37 cats and one goat. We had provided health checks to seven sick dogs. We had implanted microchips into 58 dogs so they can be reunited with owners if lost, a great initiative. Mangaia now has its own section on the national microchip database. Our welfare guru, Mata Nooroa Jr, a great asset to our team, provided practical advice on animal care, feeding and housing. His long experience performing the role of welfare officer for the SPCA in Rarotonga was the key to this and we appreciate that he agreed to join the TAM team on behalf of CISPCA.

We would like to thank the people of Mangaia for supporting this clinic. It was a pleasure to provide our services, and we hope to do so again soon. The generosity we received was overwhelming from people around the island. Every day we were treated to great midday meals and our chicken curry dinner was delicious. We received some amazing donations and great food. We cannot thank everyone enough, your kindness is remembered.

We also thank the Island Council and mayor Tutai, and the executive officer, the Ministry of Agriculture, George and George. Thank you, Marilyn from all of us. From me, thanks go to Sarah, Mata and Natalie, for making everything we did happen. To the people who helped with travel plans and logistics, thanks for your unsung help. And to Te Are Manu staff and volunteers who kept the operation in Rarotonga on track, thank you.

Meitaki Ngao everyone!