Friday, December 10, 2010

It's Christmas Time - what a year its been!

Welcome, Kia Ora, Mālō ē lelei, Fakalofa lahi atu

There is no better time of year than Christmas to reflect on the year that is about to pass and look positively to what awaits us all in the new year.

2010 has been an amazing year for South Pacific Animal Welfare. In just one year, we have achieved remarkable milestones. In most people's eyes, we have achieved the impossible. Due to the level of dedicated support around us we have gone from an idea, a vision, a dream, to a very real entity.

The concept of SPAW has been with me for some years - I was just one person with a vision to do something tangible and credible to help animal kind. Now as we end our first year of development and head into our first year of operation I am no longer alone and it is a great feeling. There are now hundreds of people in our midst - from all over the world. Our Board of Directors are experts in the areas of business, animal welfare, veterinary care and law. It is important to us that we work collaboratively in all of our efforts and that our mission and values are at the forefront of all of our planning. Hundreds of man hours have gone into our joint efforts and we have done all we can to create a sustainable organisation model that is now a part of the global animal welfare world. South Pacific Animal Welfare is an entity we can foster from our own land of Aotearoa helping animals that most certainly need, if not deserve our focus and attention.

To our partners in The Kingdom of Tonga and Niue, we thank you for inviting us to your islands to work with you to foster and develop animal welfare capabilities with you in the years ahead.

We look forward to bringing you news and stories next year and wish you all a really awesome Christmas and New Year period. Thanks for supporting us.

On behalf of the team at SPAW
We welcome you to our journey.

Ka Kite, Malo, Koe Kia

Merry Christmas
NZ Maori: Ngā mihi o te Kirihimete
The Kingdom of Tonga: Kilisimasi Fiefia
Niue: Monuina a Aho Kilisimasi mo e Tau Foou

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Frankie - on the road to recovery

This is a great story of a little pup, destined to a likely short and highly miserable life of starvation, neglect, fear and abuse. Luckily for little Frankie, travelling documentary maker Amy Taylor came across him. Amy and Frankie's story is similar to many rescue stories. Amy could have turned her head, and carried on walking, but she didnt. She picked up Frankie and took him to a new home she found for him. Now, as you will see from the photos, Frankie is on his way to recovery. This is a beautiful story and one I know we will experience a thousand times over in Tonga in the coming years.

Add a caption
“Every drop of rain raises the ocean…”
Sometimes in life you come across a situation and you just have to follow your heart, even if it seems impossible or you don’t know if it will really make a difference. That’s what happened when I met Frankie - a lovely little puppy who was living a nightmare life and was not far from dying, which probably would have been a relief for him. But luckily there is a happy ending to his story.
I was walking down the road near where I was staying when I saw a pitifully thin dog outside a small shack where an elderly Tongan woman and her grandchildren lived. He was only around four months old at the most and was really underdeveloped except for his long legs and big ears, making him look a bit like a baby kangaroo. He didn’t run away when I approached him, probably because he didn’t have the energy to, and when I got closer I could see fleas and lice crawling through his dirty golden fur, and open sores all over his body.
I went to the house across the road and asked if I could buy some corned beef to feed him, but the people didn’t seem to understand (or else they just thought I was crazy!) so I walked further up the road to buy chicken then came back to try and feed him. A pack of other dogs appeared and attacked him, taking away the much needed food. Meanwhile the lady and her granddaughter were watching me and laughing as I cried and tried to help fend off the other dogs and get him to eat something. After all that he went into the house and there was a loud heart-wrenching yelping – the lady came outside and was holding him by his front leg and trying to put him into a plastic bag to give to me. His leg was bent at a terrible angle an I thought it was going to break, so I pleaded with her to put him down and said I would be back in the morning to pick him up.
I left with tears pouring down my face wondering what I was going to do. I only had a few days left in Tonga and was not really in a position to take on looking after a dog, but there was no other option. The next morning I was up early, cooking chicken, making a bed and a lead. I picked him up at 8am, the grandkids were all there and I asked them why he was so skinny but they had no answer. I wrapped him up in a towel and walked back home, amazed by the fact he just looked into my eyes and let me take him. He was so light it felt like I was going to break his bones just by holding him. After feeding him the chicken I ran a bath and got rid of all the fleas and lice with coconut shampoo & tea tree oil, he was so scared but didn’t move and just stood there shaking. Once he dried off in the sun I could see the wounds starting to heal already, and his broken little body seemed to be looking better already. I didn’t have to worry about him run away because he was glued to my side from the minute I got him home.
I’m writing this four days after rescuing Frankie and he’s curled up on his bed next to me, sleeping with a full belly after a big day of playing with Eddie, another puppy who has been given a better chance at life (see his story on here also). Today I found him a home with a lovely Australian couple that have lived here for many years running a whale watching business. They love dogs and already have Tommy who’s a big gentle giant, and him and Frankie liked each other straight away. I left feeling like it will be ok to drop him off there tomorrow, even though I’ll miss him I’ll know he’s in a good place.
Tonga is not an easy place for most animals – there’s a combination of poverty, extremes in weather, and a lack of veterinary care, understanding, and compassion. There is an urgent need for SPAW to help change this, and I hope that we can all help to make that change happen.
So even though it may sometimes seem impossible or futile I’m convinced that it never is, and that making that difference for even one animal will bring an immense amount of happiness not only to them but also to yourself. Each and every life matters.

Amy Taylor

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Niue sign an MOU with SPAW

It has been absolute ages since my last blogg. We have been so busy preparing for our new endeavours to Tonga and Niue it seems the last few months have flown by.

The great news is that Niue have also signed an MOU with SPAW and we are truely pleased to have agreements with both Tonga and Niue to provide veterinary care, spay/neuter services and humane education on both islands.

Check out our website ....

As our activity increases we will be sharing it all and I cannot wait to help our animal friends on these islands.

Because we all care about animals and want to help our future in the pacific is going to be an exciting and productive journey.


Friday, July 30, 2010

3 Major Milestones

Cate Kerr (WSPA Australasia)
Dr.Viliami Toalei Manu (MAFFF)
Karen Galvan
May 2010 at the MAFFF HQ in Tongatapu

In May 2010, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to participate in a joint visit with the WSPA to The Kingdom of Tonga.

The visit to Tonga was highly successful. You never know what to expect when dealing with foreign red tape and south pacific cultures can be particularly tricky. I placed my expectation level at the very lowest because I new that whatever we walked away with would be something more than what we walked in with. In fact, we achieved so much more than we had hoped and it would be my view that a mini miracle has resulted from our meetings that took place, with government officials, ministry officials, locals, expats, business people and village leaders.

Milestone 1

No more than a couple of weeks after our return, Cate Kerr - WSPA's Australasia Member Society Manager emailed me thrilled to say that the Government of Tonga had signed the WSPA Universal Declaration of Animal Welfare. This is a pretty remarkable achievement. This tells me that we are in the right "space" and our goals are being pitched in a way that makes sense to those in Tonga that can help us develop and collaborate for future change - the decision makers that can pave the way for a brighter future for animal welfare matters in The Kingdom of Tonga are listening to us and interested in what we are telling them.

To read about the WSPA Declaration of Animal Welfare, you can go to - by signing this document, the Government have acknowledged that the Kingdom and its people agree that:

* Animals are sentient and can suffer.
* Animals’ welfare needs must be respected.
* Animal cruelty must end for good.

Milestone 2

SPAW Board - last week we held our very first SPAW Board meeting in Auckland. Rest assured that we are in good hands, we have a healthy mix of business and animal welfare expertise required to drive this organisation forward. It is exciting and we will be sharing more in the future. The SPAW board are a group of inspirational Kiwi's that all care deeply about the plight of animal welfare in the pacific. We are all deeply connected to the pacific through our lives and we all care about the our neighbouring island communities. We know that a collaborative, inclusive and developmental approach to animal welfare in the pacific will inspire remarkable change over the coming years. Together, we share that great Kiwi "number 8 wire" mentality of anything is possible.

Milestone 3

Last week, I forwarded our MOU agreement to the Ministry of Agriculture Food Forestry and Fisheries in The Kingdom of Tonga. This agreement is the foundation document of our work in The Kingdom of Tonga, and likely future projects in other islands. It outlines our joint responsibilities and goals to bringing more focus and long term sustainability to animal welfare matters in The Kingdom of Tonga. This agreement means we are on a journey together working collaboratively for the best possible outcome.

Rest assured, we are fired up and putting every effort into ensuring our programmes are well planned sustainable solutions to animal welfare issues in the pacific.

Our website will be up soon .... watch this space!

Take care
Karen Galvan

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Now that I have seen, I am responsible!

Today's SPCA/WSPA Humane Education conference in Auckland was an incredible event, well thought out and very well implemented. I felt so priviledged to be amongst a great group of people who all care deeply about the plight of animals and the role education plays in improving lives of animals through community collaboration.

Congratulations to both organisations for putting together an impressive programme of international speakers, credible individuals with amazing stories of courage, comradship and vision.

The conference was opened by Bob Kerridge, he doesnt need an introduction, everyone knows the work Bob continues to advocate through his life long work with the SPCA. His key message was that "Education has always been a priority in the prevention of cruelty to Animals". Bob was very thoughtful in his speech and took us through quite an emotional story of his own child-hood - growing up in a strict but highly influential Auckland family and how through his childhood troubles and a strong bond with his pet Cocker Spaniel named Rusty, he developed a love of, and empathy toward animals that has carried his career through to this day and has inspired an organisation and nation of people to care more for the animals we share the planet with.

Today we heard the most inspirational stories from many speakers, one in particular .... Julia Hardaker who works for AMRRIC, an organisation collaborating with aboriginal/indigenous peoples in Australia to better animal health and community health through veterinary care and education.

Elodie Guillon, WSPAs Education Manager from Asia provided insights into the amazing work WSPA are conducting in Asia and Vivian Chiu did the same sharing the SPCA Hong Kongs work and humane education programme with us.

I left todays conference feeling so invigorated. To be around like minded individuals who share such an empathy towards the plight of animals and also who care about the communities to which they work was amazing.

I cant wait for tomorrow.

Signing off

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

RNZSPCA/WSPA Human Education Conference July 2010

Hi everyone

This weekend, animal welfarists and humane educators from around New Zealand and the pacific congregate at the SPCA Education Centre in Mangere, Auckland, New Zealand ... the RNZSPCA /WSPA programme looks amazing with guest speakers including Bob Kerridge, Norm Hewitt and representatives from SPCA offices in New Zealand and Australia as well as WSPA member societies from the pacific region.

I shall be reporting on both days via my blogg.


Saturday, June 5, 2010

Tonga awaits

If your life is running anything like mine at the moment then you are probably feeling somewhat overwhelmed by the fact that we only have 24 hours in a day. The Tonga visit has created so much scope it is really now simply a matter of dotting the I's and crossing the T's.

There is however much still to think over in how we scope out the SPAW initiative for Tonga as the grassroots planning will provide us with the framework for building a healthy and sustainable organisation that works within communities, not around them and that is respected and valued.

We want to provide as much assistance and support to the very basic ministry of agriculture facility they have operating in Tongatapu. It is very basic, but with some paint and a spruce up, with some good vets and renewed supplies, I feel that we can work alongside of the local Tonga vet techs to better the life for animals in the community and add some long term and sustainable benefits to Tonga and its animals.

In Tonga it appeared that pigs roam freely and from a tourists perspective the site of a sow and her young freely foraging the roadside for food and running happily and openly in their family groups was a pleasant picture. Also, large numbers of Cattle openly grazed untethered in large fenced paddocks with Coconut trees as shade. Dogs on the other hand were an entirely diffeent story. There are many starving dogs, too many pregnant and lactating mumma dogs in terrible shape and various injuries likely caused by being hit by cars or at the hands of man. The numbers of dogs at a reasonable guess would be easily in the thousands. Other than the odd visiting vet, there has never really been a focus on spay/neuter although the existing Vet Techs are trained in this surgical skill. However to make any positive long term impact will require some focus. And to focus on spay/neuter there needs to be alot of work done in educating and promoting community health benefits associated with less dogs and healthier animals. Although overall community empathy toward companion animals in particular is lacking, it was encouraging to see several locals drive some distance to bring their "pets" to us for deflea, deworm and de-sexing even though this was not the purpose of this trip, it was wonderful to have Dr. Roz Holland with us as an advisor. Of course, as soon as news got out that a western vet was on the island, her time became well utilised. She is an amazing vet with a tenacity to her work and manner likeable to anyone.

So all in all, we have made some outstanding headway in our journey thus far. I am spending the weekend finalising the layout of the new SPAW website and the charities trust deed.

Oh, and we have a fundraiser coming up .... im looking for helpers.

In the meantime, give your pooch or puss a hug and do have a thought for those less fortunate. The suffering that goes on for animals the world over is really so sad and quite unnecessary.

Best wishes for a long and safe Queens Birthday weekend.


Friday, May 14, 2010

Its the small things that matter

Without donors, charities simply dont exist. Being in the animal welfare realm is harder still because animals fall after human need and there are a zillion charities set up to help humans all vying for supporters and donors to keep their programmes running. So any person or organisation that contributes to our programmes is a friend indeed.

Facebook is a brilliant invention. It has its downfalls and critics but overall is gives us the opportunity to distribute information and communicate with supporters with very little effort and zero financial output. By posting quick little notes on my own profile and the SPAW supporters page we can recruit volunteers and encourage donors from all over the world.

Which brings me to the crux of my blog today.

I want to say THANK YOU to two donors who have made my day through their generosity and understanding of the job we face in carrying out important work in the pacific that will ultimately improve the way animals are treated and the life they live.

Today at SPAW we received an incredibly generous donation from Cathy King of World Vets, all the way in the USA, of over 1000 heart worm tablets. This kind of donation makes me literally jump up and down with excitement because it is so valuable. We could never afford to buy it and dont yet have a profile global enough to source it for free ourselves so I am incredibly grateful. Of course, our global profile and donor streams will increase over the coming years, but for now, we are very much at the grass roots stage of our development.

I have been told that currently, they have absolutely nothing in terms of flea and worm meds on the market in Tonga so the tablets will be well utilised.

Also, I must thank Julie Muir from New Plymouth who collects all sorts of product from veterinary clinics and doctor rooms and ships them up when and as she can. Today 3 boxes of medicines and surgical utensils were delivered from Julie. This donation will be taken up to Tonga on the 22nd May 2010 and used to help relieve the suffering of the many animals we know are in dire shape without any relief for their various ailments.

If you have access to veterinary products, please donate it to SPAW.


Saturday, May 8, 2010

Thank you World Vets

There are many animal welfare agencies around the world that do amazing work recruiting volunteers and bringing awareness to the many issues that face the animal world today. World Vets is one of those.

Thanks to World Vets, we have 1000+ dosages of heartworm medication to take up to Tonga with us on 22nd May 2010. By providing this simple tablet medication to animals, their basic health can be improved.

Thank you World Vets.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Hi everyone

Well, this is my first blogg. Excellent to finally have this sorted. The main reason for this blogg is to document, to those of you that are interested, the new project we are engaging in, up in the Kingdom of Tonga and Nuie.

As you can imagine developing a new charity that involves setting up a new animal clinic on a rather isolate island that has absolutely NO animal welfare legislation and resourcing this initiative is a huge task that is taking up every spare minute of my time. Not only do I have to inspire and recruit really valuable board members, there is the organisation of NZ charity status, writing deeds, developing a website, branding, researching funding and revenue streams and sealing local on-island buy in of our ideas within Tonga. This is just some of what is required in the initial phase of Project Tonga and although I know that I will succeed through pure passion and tenacity, it sometimes seems like I have bitten off more than I can chew. Oh well, we just have to get on with it, which brings me to this blogg.

On 22nd May, I fly up to Tonga with our good friends at the WSPA and a kind veterinary friend who will act as an advisor, to meet with stakeholders and animal welfare advocates in the Kingdom of Tonga. We are making great progress with booking in meetings with various agencies that have a vested interest in our offer to help the dire situation with overpopulation and uncontrolled breeding of companion animals in Tonga.

What we need help with at this point, is the provision of basic pain relief, mange and flea/worm treatments to take up. We will not be peforming any surgeries, that is not the point of the trip, however, we have a vet with us and want to help where we can. By simply providing relief from irritating and sometimes debilitating skin diseases, we can make all the difference to the day in the life of a homeless and sick street dog or cat during our Visit.

Can you help by providing us with any of the following products ... if so, we will be grateful and some of the thousands of animals we know are suffering in Tonga from parasites, skin disease and painful ailments will be grateful.

PRODUCT WISH LIST – Tonga Visit, 22nd May to 28th May
Drontal, Milbimax, Frontline, Advantage, Revolution, Advantix
Syringes, 21 gauge needles, Dectomax/Ivermectin, Metacam, Norocarp
Amoxy Clax, Clavulox, Augmentin, Dog Collars

Thanks everyone and we will be keeping you informed of our journey, as it rolls out, over the months ahead.

We have a huge job ahead of us.