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By Tara Carr

AVARUA, Rarotonga, Cook Islands (December 20, 2001 – Cook Islands News)---Cook Islands Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (CISPCA) president Nick Smith says he’s fed up with people who are all talk and no action when it comes to dealing with Rarotonga’s stray dog problem.

He was speaking out concerning a CINews story this week about tourist Richard McKinlay.

The 33 year-old Australian visitor was thrown from his moped after a pack of dogs rushed in front of him December 14th.

He received facial injuries when he fell head first onto the road.

"This is just another incident in years and years of frustration for tourists.

"There are a lot of issues relating to the excessive number of dogs on the island, which is why the CISPCA undertook the task of building a pound," says Smith.

"This is a serious issue affecting the tourists. And everyone knows that tourism is Rarotonga’s lifeline."

He says everyone in the tourism industry should be responsible for telling tourists about the dogs -- and not just firms who hire out vehicles.

And he says the CISPCA is doing all it can to diminish the problem.

The CISPCA applied for New Zealand Official Development Aid (NZODA) funds to pay for the pound project at Tikioki. The pound has 14 cages and they are all full, adds Smith.

He says the organization now has almost run out of money and will be forced to make another application for aid.

Money to pay for food for dogs at the pound is also scarce.

Smith says only more funding will make the dog problem disappear quickly -- and in a controlled and humanitarian way.

"People say the government should be helping more. The thing is, this isn’t just a government problem but a problem that everyone needs to help with."

He says the CISPCA doesn’t want to see a mass slaying of dogs as it will have an even more negative effect on tourism.

Every individual can help by ensuring their dog is registered, Smith points out. Registration is free and can be organized at the CISPCA’s main office, next to the police station in Avarua.

Animal owners should also make sure their dogs are de-sexed, Smith says.

"A problem like this incident with McKinlay is not the dog’s fault but the owner’s. A dog is a dog and it does what dogs do."

Anyone genuinely interested in helping with the problem can attend the CISPCA’s annual general meeting in January.

For additional reports from the Cook Islands News Online, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/Cook Islands News Online.

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