Media Release, 9 December 2015
Representatives of the Esther Honey Foundation and the Cook Islands Investment Corporation (CIIC) Board met last week with Minister for the Corporation, Hon Mark Brown, to jointly develop a solution for relocating the Foundation clinic. The meeting focused on acknowledging and addressing the respective needs of the Foundation and government, and finding a pragmatic solution. The Corporation reiterated previous statements that the issue was not about the Foundation’s excellent service to the Cook Islands; the key aim was to work with the Foundation to find a more appropriate location for its veterinary service.
Visiting veterinarian and long-standing EHF Board member, Dr. Byron Maas, along with Foundation volunteer Ms Trish Barton, discussed the Foundations’s specific needs with the Minister and the Corporation Board, emphasising that their preference was to continue to deliver the veterinary services to the Cook Islands. However, over time, they had become a default short-term (and sometimes long-term) accommodation facility for animals, which was not the original mission and intention.
Corporation Board members noted that after further investigation and research by Corporation staff, they had identified two possible solutions for relocating the Foundation clinic and its associated services. The Minister, Board members and the Foundation representatives then visited both sites as well as the existing site, to enable Mr Maas and Ms Barton to view and determine the feasibility of each site offered.
While both sites would require some work to make them fit for purpose, Foundation representatives were encouraged to have options to consider. “We recognize the challenges at our current site, and we appreciate the work that has been carried out by the Corporation to find other options for us. We also remain grateful for the Corporation’s assistance in locating our current site”.
Minister Brown noted that a major factor in the work of the Foundation is their efforts to educate our community members about their understanding of their responsibilities as owners and guardians of animals. He acknowledged that the Foundation had provided a great service to the Cook Islands over a number of years; however, he also noted that the work of the Foundation would be made much easier if animal owners played their part in caring for and accommodating their animals. Foundation representatives agreed with this, and are keen to find solutions to helping the community better play its role in animal welfare in the Cook Islands.
The Foundation representatives will go back to the EHF Board to discuss the options presented, so that relocation may commence early in the New Year. In the meantime, the Foundation will remain in its current location while the Minister, the CIIC and EHF continue to work together to create a solution that will benefit our communities and companion animals.
All parties agreed that the meeting was extremely useful, helped greatly by a strong and positive collaborative spirit exhibited by all concerned.