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.