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Loose dogs

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Loose dogs

We have recently returned from Rarotonga for our annual holiday (for the past 5 years) and have noticed the increase in stray dogs roaming the beach and roads. Don't take this the wrong way, we both like dogs but this has the potential to become a real problem if numbers increase. Raro is definitely a real paradise but not if there are packs of dogs roaming the beaches!

65 replies to this topic
posts: 40
reviews: 6
11. Re: Loose dogs

Another thing you can do is write to Cook Island News in the 'Letters to the Editor 'index. This helps to get your concerns out there for many to see and there is a better chance of something being done about it. Being a dog lover myself i would hate to see them 'over decline' as they are such a part of many people visits to Rarotonga. I must say they are not missed in Aitutaki and you do notice the quiet "no barking" when you are there.

South Pole
posts: 15,408
reviews: 38
12. Re: Loose dogs

" I must say they are not missed in Aitutaki and you do notice the quiet "no barking" when you are there"

yes, the roosters' crows must be drowning the barking out.


Sydney, Australia
Destination Expert
for Rarotonga
posts: 825
reviews: 71
13. Re: Loose dogs

I'm just wondering why aren't there any dogs on Aitutaki?

Is there a ban on them? Can you not take dogs to Aitutaki.

Just curious - do they have cats on Aitutaki?

Sorry if I appear to be asking silly questions, but I have only ever done the day trip to Aitutaki, & didn't really notice the lack of dogs, but having stayed on Raro I have noticed the abundance of our 4 legged friends.

Aitutaki, Cook...
Destination Expert
for Aitutaki
posts: 1,076
reviews: 29
14. Re: Loose dogs

Yes there are cats on Aitutaki.

There are at least 3 stories as to why there are no dogs on Aitutaki. Any or none of which may be true.

First story is that they ate them all - probably not true.

Next is during the 1920s and 30s there was an outbreak of leprosy on Aitutaki - true. And the story is that the locals thought the dogs were the vector spreading the disease and so they were killed.

Last, and the story most people say is true, is that years ago - so long that no one can remember who or when - one of the Ariki (chiefs) had a daughter that was attacked by a dog so they were all banned from the island.

If a yacht calls in to Aitutaki with a dog on board it is not allowed ashore.

One interesting story is that a few years ago there was suspicion of some pot plantations on Aitutaki and the police wanted to bring their drug dog over from Raro. Dogs are against the law on Aitutaki so it wasn't a dog that came over, it was a four legged police officer.

So, dogs allowed unless they are wearing a police badge.

Edited: 11:35 am, June 01, 2012
Aitutaki, Cook...
Destination Expert
for Aitutaki
posts: 1,076
reviews: 29
15. Re: Loose dogs

Sorry, that last sentence should have read 'NO dogs allowed unless wearing a police badge.'

16. Re: Loose dogs

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Rarotonga, Cook...
Destination Expert
for Rarotonga, Waiheke Island, Southern Cook Islands, Auckland
posts: 7,694
reviews: 100
17. Re: Loose dogs

There are several more versions of the dog-less situation on Aitutaki.

One is that a dog was brought onto the island suffering from ?dog distemper or similar. The disease spread so the entire dog population was eliminated.

I hear what you are saying about the crowing roosters, Lien!

Love the little tale about the sniffer dog, Puapii. So... pin a badge upon a dog collar and call it an officer!

Sydney, Australia
Destination Expert
for Rarotonga
posts: 825
reviews: 71
18. Re: Loose dogs

Thanks Puapii, very interesting.

posts: 3
reviews: 17
19. Re: Loose dogs

Update: June 2013.

A frightening encounter with a pack of aggressive dogs on the main road near Avarua was an unforgettable low point of our most recent visit to Rarotonga in June. After six days travelling around by car, my wife and I decided on a 20 minute stroll from Club Raro to the main township of Avarua. At different stages along the journey, we felt uncomfortable about the unwanted attention of three different dogs. One was chased away by a convenience store owner after following us into his shop. But the last of the three dogs caused a much bigger commotion. As we approached town, our uninvited companion suddenly attracted the unwelcome attention of a neighbourhood pack - consisting of 6 to 8 barking animals. They suddenly came racing from several roadside properties to confront us. And were clearly intent on crossing to attack the dog by our side. We had just enough time to flee down a driveway where we sheltered inside the fenced porch of a private property.

We are middle aged and the experience was unsettling. For children or older travellers, it would have been terrifying. And it could easily have ended with someone suffering a vicious bite. The following day we noticed mothers pushing babies in strollers through the same neighbourhood. Did they know the risks? Had they been warned? I doubt it.

Our experience was not an isolated incident. On another occasion we were having lunch at Sails on Muri Beach when we spotted at least 6 more dogs making a nuisance of themselves, as several Captain Tamas cruise boats returned to shore. Other posters on this site have already noted aggressive behaviour and fighting among dogs linked to staff from the same cruise company.

Later, we tried to relax at a deserted lagoon on the south coast. Within minutes, we were joined by no fewer than 4 stray (and unpredictable) dogs. Once again, unwelcome animals were outnumbering the humans. And the sight of these stray dogs snapping at each other in the sand, or washing themselves in the lagoon is hardly appealing.

On our return to New Zealand we researched the issue, and discovered dog numbers and aggressive behaviour have been a problem for years. Apparently there is a campaign underway to register and limit the numbers. But because the current law generously allows each home to keep two dogs, these efforts seem a waste of time. During our stay, the Cook Islands News reported an even worse situation in Samoa where vicious dog attacks on tourists are now common. One wonders how long it will be before the same situation emerges in Rarotonga. One local we spoke to said he was forced to buy a slingshot in New Zealand, to protect his own pet during walks around the island.

Our warning to anyone planning to walk in Rarotonga is simple: don't risk it. Take a car instead.

Sydney, Australia
Destination Expert
for Rarotonga
posts: 825
reviews: 71
20. Re: Loose dogs

NZpaua, it must have been a frightening experience for you.

We had noticed last September that not only had the number of dogs on the beaches increased from the previous year but also that the dogs appeared to be much more territorial & aggressive towards each other.

Whilst the Esther Honey people do a wonderful job with their attempts to neuter all animals, this action depends on the animal owners requesting this to be done & it would appear that this is no longer happening as the numbers are definately increasing.

Perhaps it's time that the CI Government once again employed a dog catcher to impound these animals & charge the owner a fee to retrieve them. This may then make irresponsible dog owners keep their dogs under control by making it financially unattractive to own a dog.

It would be a real shame to see Rarotonga end up the same as Samoa.

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