SPCA Has Bold Plan To Microchip All Dogs On Rarotonga, Cook Islands

By Richard Moore 

RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (Cook Islands News, Sept. 26, 2016) – The SPCA has bold plans to microchip all dogs on Rarotonga.

It sees “chipping” dogs as one way of dealing with roaming pets without authorities resorting to shooting them, says the SPCA’s Robyn Kippenberger.

The SPCA is looking for aid funding for the project to microchip all the island’s dogs and make it part of registering the animals.

Kippenberger says microchipping a dog and putting a collar on it, so people know it has been chipped, works out at not much more than $10 per dog.

She estimates the cost would be about $10,000 a year, or about $30,000 over three years.

“It would be unrealistic to think we could do them all in one year. We would pace it out. We’d start off with registered dogs and go from there.

“We were very successful in NZ at getting funding for that and also getting donated scanners.

“It would mean police dog control officers would have scanners, we would have scanners and Esther Honey would need a scanner.”

The microchipping is a simple procedure where a rice-grain sized microchip, containing information about the dog’s owner and address, is injected between the animal’s shoulder blades.

It can then be scanned to retrieve who the dog belongs to and where it lives.

“And then from the database we can get dogs back really fast and it means no-one needs to kennel them. “

She says when dogs have microchips in them they can be returned to their owners quickly.

“After the Christchurch earthquakes we got 80 per cent of chipped animals back to their owners and that was in extreme circumstances.

“Of the 20 per cent of chipped animals, 80 per cent got back to their owners. Of the 80 per cent not chipped, 20 per cent did.”

Kippenberger says the SPCA found homes for all the other animals.

The organisation has been in talks here with police over the microchipping plan.

“The fact is that with microchips you’ve got a phone number and an address. We can always call if there is no address and say ‘we’ve got your dog’.”

She says the initiative is grass roots animal welfare. “If we can help … that’s what we are here for.

“If we can make this work then it can be a model for other Pacific Islands.”

Kippenberger says Rarotonga has the least of the Pacific’s dog problems.

“Vanuatu is horrendous. Tonga is not much better. Samoa is awful - after the typhoon there were starving dogs and they started packing up and biting people.”

SHE SAYS the SPCA can organise microchipping and if that can be made to work then “that’s by far the biggest step”.

“That’s 80 per cent of our problem solved. It means we can get dogs back to their owners.

“On the Gold Coast in Australia it’s a lifetime registration and if dogs are found they are taken back to owners. There is a return fee for their dog and it works.

“Here we could do a $10 return fee and give them a free long-line with which to secure their dogs when they are away from home.

Kippenberger says: “Most people want their dogs to stay at home and a $10 long line is all it takes.

“If people are at home it’s okay, but if you are going out to work all day leaving your dog alone it needs to be on a line. Long lines are not an invasive thing. The dog can move around and as long as it has a bowl of water and has a bit of shade it will sleep.”

Kippenberger was full of praise for the Esther Honey Foundation and its work de-sexing dogs.

 “Esther Honey is doing an amazing job. An awesome job. They are the X-factor.

“Without de-sexing, none of this is possible.”   

Cook Islands News
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