Cats, cats, and more cats…
The ‘Aitutaki Community Cat Project’ is a group of veterinarians, vet techs, nurses, and helpers who have been coming to Aitutaki for the last couple of years to de-sex local and feral cats on the island. To say there was a cat problem was an understatement. But, there was a woman who met another woman who thought they may be able to get together and help with the issue. They were right.
It goes something like this: Tomie Timon RDMS, RVT (OR, USA) was in Aitutaki on holiday and meets local islander Stephanie Joseph (who mentions the cat over-population). They hit it off and soon are talking about how they can get the issue under control. Tomie spearheads the groundwork and organization in the US and Steph (lovingly reffered to) goes about building an understanding with local islanders and getting permissions for a ‘group’ to come help out by de-sexing the cat population.
It may seem simple but getting together vets, techs, drugs and all the necessary paperwork to fly, import and distribute is a massive undertaking! And, they did it all themselves and funded it all themselves!! Now this past year the project has been so successful and has been so appreciated by local islanders that a few business stepped up to lend a helping hand with some of those expenses and transportation.
And the winners are:
A big round of applause for Ewan Smith (owner of Air Rarotaonga) who flew all the participants from Rarotonga to Aitutaki for (zero)…yes, you read that right…zero $. This man saw a need and filled it. I saw some of his aerial photography today and it is as exemplary of the Cook Islands as is the man!
The Boat Shed Restaurant also has been supporting this community effort by providing a 10 passenger van for the vets to be able to transport themselves around the different communities as well as handle the transport of feral cats to and from the surgery. Way-to-go Boat Shed to assist in and provide for the well-being of the community and it’s animals!
The Te Are Manu Clinic on Rarotonga are also part of the team effort, who “are happy to support the 2nd annual Team Tomie”…check out their FB page here:
This is how it works… people in the community who own cats may bring their cat to the ‘clinic’ to be de-sexed (for free). Vets and techs set bait traps for ferel cats, catch them, provide the surgery for free (ferel cats don’t have money), and release them back to where they were captured. It seems that the vets do about 100- 130 cats per week which will drastically reduce the population which was on the increase.
They have now been asked to come twice a year to do similar clinics. They have also received some great feedback from the community and acceptance by the local people. This is service at the highest level. Watch for FB fundraisers by this great group of service oriented people.
Thank you Tomie for sharing your story and for helping so many pets and pet owners!
Let’s be sure to support local businesses who support local communities!