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Working together for the animals of the Cook Islands

Wednesday 10 May 2023 | Written by Supplied | Published in Local, National, Opinion, Pet Talk


Working together for the animals of the Cook Islands
Dr Michael Baer is the main vet at Te Are Manu. Photo: Sian Solomon/22051332

As you read this I will be in Mauke, thanks to Air Rarotonga and the New Zealand High Commission, both of whom have supported our work in the pa enua.

A team of three, two nurse and I, are there with Mata Nooroa Jr, the welfare officer from the Cook Island SPCA. 

Junior on our side is the key ingredient to the success of our Pa Enua visits. 

And it is a great example of the cooperation and mutual respect that characterises the relationship between the charities that look after animals in the Cook Islands.

Te Are Manu has been on the scene for about six years, and in that time we have had to work with the SPCA on many occasions. 

The SPCA are older, having been around since last century. 

But the enthusiasm and dedication of the SPCA members has not wavered. 

The essential work of caring for stray dogs and investigating welfare cases is the grist in the mill for Junior and David. 

And we are lucky enough to work side by side with them. 

Seeing at close hand the work these guys, and their wives and families, do for animals is inspiring.

We have a clear delineation of duties, animal health and animal welfare do overlap but TAM and the SPCA have a great relationship, and we don’t step on each other’s toes.

The SPCA is not the only animal group TAM work with. 

The cats, goats and pigs in Aitutaki have a staunch ally in Aitutaki Community Animal Rescue, a local charity, lead by Steph Joseph. 

Between her other roles Steph manages to find time to host a vet from TAM once a month for a day clinic. 

Yvonne, Winnie and Vicky are always chipping in to help.  And do some baking!

The newest kid on the animal care block is the well named cat sanctuary, Paws’N’Claws.  Based in Matavera, Shannon and Don have built a fantastic facility. 

It is so needed and so successful that after just one year it is impossible to remember what life was like before it came along. 

As with the SPCA and ACAR, most of the work is unnoticed by the general populace.  But I can promise you we notice, and we love them for the work they do!

The formal charity groups that we work with are fabulous, and easy to name.  But the SPCA, ACAR and Paws’N’Claws are organisations, and no organisation is any good if the people are not engaged.

I have named a few people who contribute to those organisations, going above and beyond to make things happen.  It would only be fair to mention the people at TAM who do the same.

Trish Barton has so many jobs and wears so many hats it can be hard to keep track. 

But regardless of which hat she is wearing or which job she is filling, her dedication to TAM is obvious and her work for us is invaluable. 

Pip and Lorraine work long hours with few breaks and little support.  And that is just during office hours. 

Natalie chips in a couple days each week, filling out our nursing roster. Our volunteers; enthusiastic, talented vets and nurses, who often give up income and holidays, and fork out for flights, ensures vets are always on hand. 

The board of our charity keep a watchful eye on proceedings, leading with a gentle touch. 

And Sarah is the backbone of the clinical department, calmly and efficiently keeping the vets in order. 

I am lucky to work with these organisations and these people every day.  They are amazing. And I am lucky.