Island Getaway No Holiday

Howick & Pakuranga Times

6 October 2014

HELPING OUT: Pakuranga Vet Clinic team members are travelling to Niue to run a charity treatment centre, from left, Sarah Foster, Anya Kean, Clare Cusack and Sasha Nowell. Times photo Daniel Silverton

A TEAM from Pakuranga Vet Clinic will put its skills to the test during a trip to Niue later this month.

Three vets, two nurses and an assistant will spend a week on the island to run a charity clinic organised by South Pacific Animal Welfare (SPAW).

“There is no vet clinic in Niue at all, and no education in animal health or welfare, so this is a big thing for them to have us there,” says Pakuranga Vet Clinic owner Sasha Nowell.

Niue has a population of 1800 people, and most of the work will be on the cats and dogs they own as well as any wild animals that need treatment.

“The main things we will be doing is de-sexing, vaccinations, worming and flea control,” says Mrs Nowell.

“We’ll deal with accidents and emergencies as well.

“We’ll also see some large animals like pigs, horses and cattle, some of which these people rely on for milk and meat.” Pakuranga Vet Clinic’s locum, Bryan Gartell, and his wife Gael have been on similar trips before, but for the rest of the group it will be their first time, and a big change from having the state-of-the-art technology they are used to working with every day.

“So it will be a learning curve for us. The facilities are basic with no hot water, air conditioning or an autoclave [sterilising machine], so it won’t be the standard of care that we are used to giving,” says Mrs Nowell.

“It’s a make-do situation.

“Hopefully we will get through a huge amount of surgery. We’ll be working from early in the morning until early afternoon because by 2pm it gets too hot.” With every treatment performed the team will impart information to owners about animal health and welfare, as well as to the wider population.

“Gael will be doing a lot of work in schools educating the children.

“I’ve heard that some people there don’t realise that animals feel pain or need to be fed properly, but then there are others who love their pets dearly and want the best for them but can’t provide it because it is unavailable.

“In New Zealand, people know about vaccinations, what to feed their animals, de-sexing, worming and this is our opportunity to educate the people of Niue.” SPAW, a volunteer-run charity organisation, provides medications and vaccines and most of the necessary equipment.

The Pakuranga team has also undertaken months of fund-raising to cover the rest of the trip.

Raffles, auctions and events have been held with help from suppliers and local businesses, and well-supported by customers and the public.

“We have to pay for our own flights, insurance, accommodation and other expenses so it is a huge cost for us to go,” says Mrs Nowell.

“We also have to take 60kg of extra luggage in the form of medical and surgical equipment and supplies. It will be a life-changing experience. We are super excited to open this clinic and provide much needed health care to Niue.”

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