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Growing calls for an animal welfare law

Monday July 29, 2019 Written by Published in Local
Tony Jamieson with Lester. 18082114 Tony Jamieson with Lester. 18082114

Without legislative powers it’s very difficult to try and help the animals in the Cooks, says outgoing SPCA manager Tony Jamieson.

The vast majority of people welcome help and advice from the animal welfare charity; there are some, though, that do not want the SPCA involved.

“I’ve had the odd landowner threaten my life and a few others have told me to get off their property, when simply trying to provide basic assistance, like food, water, shelter, or untangle their animals for them,” he said.

Jamieson worked for the Esther Honey Foundation, in late 2017 before it closed, and was the country manager of the Cook Islands SPCA for the past year, finishing early this year. His role has now been taken up by Stu Beaumont-Orr.

During Jamieson’s time with the SPCA, there were “far too many” reports of animal mistreatment, and a significant number of people who refused to provide basic care to their animals.

Sharon Reichardt, a former SPCA president, had put together a thorough list of recommendations to government about four years ago – but Jamieson said no further action has been taken by government.

In adding his voice to calls for tough, enforceable animal welfare laws, he joins the Ministry of Agriculture, Te Are Manu veterinary clinic, and existing SPCA leadership.

Yesterday, SPCA president Steve Whitta said that generally, people on Rarotonga take good care of their animals. But he added: “From time to time we’ve had a situation where we’ve worked together with Te Are Manu and government departments like the Ministry of Agriculture to address the immediate need of an animal needing care. 

“We’d like to see some legislation focused on animal welfare in the future but there is nothing in progress at this stage that we’re aware of.”

Jamieson said mistreatment and neglect in the Cook Islands included lack of food and fresh water, lack of shelter, no care or attention or abandonment, lack of medical attention, and no control of fleas and worms.

 “Animal abuse can take many forms. However, it is the infliction of harm or suffering to an animal, which is intended or unintended neglect.”

The penalties for abuse should be relative to the circumstances and the degree of cruelty, he said.

This could range from individuals being banned from owning animals, to fines or even imprisonment for the worst offenders.

Over the past year, Cook Islands and New Zealand SPCA inspectors and staff have delivered “amazing” animal welfare education material to schools in Aitutaki and Rarotonga.

“More and more people are understanding and providing the basic needs of their animal and this is improving overall welfare here.”

Since leaving SPCA, Jamieson and his partner Aline Roucou have set up a new business offering pet services like dog walking and pet-minding. “We have seen many pets left to their own devices when their owners have to leave Rarotonga for whatever reason. Pets can easily starve, get lost, or injured because there aren't many reliable and affordable options on the island for people to ensure their pets are cared for.”

  • Contact the new service at Raro Fluffy Bums on Facebook, or call Jamieson on 78975.