Reprinted with permission.
The Fiji Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) is Fiji’s only animal welfare charity and has been caring for the animals of Fiji since 1953.
In Suva we have a small veterinary clinic, welfare office and shelter to re-home stray and abandoned cats and dogs. We also conduct veterinary clinics in Nadi and other parts of Fiji.
Our outreach clinics aim to reduce the stray animal population through free or fee-for-service spaying/neutering, and community education on animal welfare.
The SPCA is governed by an executive committee of eight members and staffed by a small team of paid employees and volunteers. We have one veterinarian (volunteering for two years through the Volunteers for International Development Australia program) and three veterinary nurses. We also have volunteer vets visiting us from overseas for short-term projects.
The SPCA was incorporated under the provisions of the Charitable Trusts Ordinance 1945 on 15 June 1953. We are an independent charity and rely on the generosity of private donors and volunteers to continue our work.
- To provide veterinary care for owned and stray animals
- To shelter and re-home suitable animals
- To reduce the number of stray and abandoned dogs and cats in Fiji (spaying/neutering)
- To provide animal welfare education for schools and communities
- Ambulance rescue
- Veterinary clinic
- Boarding facilities
- Dog licences
- Sale of pet supplies
- 24-hour emergency service
- Animal welfare education
Suva clinic staff and volunteers:
- Tanya Faktaufon, Veterinary Nurse
- Artika Naidu, Veterinary Nurse
- Lynn Scott, Veterinary Nurse, Nadi (local volunteer)
- Irava Raki, Public Relations Officer/Kennel Manager
- Sarita Dutt, Accounts Officer
- Annabelle Chetty, Administration Officer
- Supa Raki, Ambulance Driver
- Asata Tawake, Cleaner/Kennel Hand
- Leone Neman, Kennel Hand
- Joji Taito, Kennel Hand
- Solomone Naqoli, Kennel Hand
- Lo Tamanitoakula, Animal Welfare Education Officer
- Naveena Roshni – Manager SPCA
Nadi clinic staff and volunteers:
- Lynn Scott, Veterinary Nurse, Nadi (local volunteer)
- Sue Harris, Administration Officer (long term local volunteer)
It is difficult to measure the stray dog population in Fiji due to the large number of community or street-owned dogs that are cared for by a number of families in one neighbourhood or village. Most properties are not fenced and dogs are allowed to roam freely between houses. Many families put leftover food out for the dogs in their area but their care does not extend to vaccinations, flea treatment or spaying/neutering.
Suva City Council and SPCA have introduced a dog licence registration system. A dog licence costs 13.50 FJD per year. Many owned dogs do not have collars and most families cannot afford to pay annual registration for their dogs.
Some smaller islands and resorts have large stray cat populations but stray dogs are the main problem on the Fiji mainland Viti Levu.
Dogs Act 1971 (external link) is not enforced. Local councils are not supportive of SPCA services and the community expects that SPCA will respond to all animal problems i.e. people do not contact town council or police to deal with matters relating to animals.
- Limited funding and resources to meet needs in urban areas or to conduct outreach clinics. SPCA relies on private donors (e.g. resort owners) to provide funding for outreach work as well as continue operating our shelter
- Lack of qualified veterinarians. In Suva there is one local veterinarian in private practice and our vet Dr Deb Hewton. Other parts of Fiji are serviced by one government vet. Vets working in Fiji have studied abroad (usually in Australia) but while they have learned the theory of small animal care they have only had experience in agriculture due to their government appointed work placements. The Fiji government appoints Animal Health Veterinary Assistants/livestock officers to be posted throughout Fiji but their training is solely in agriculture and they do not have training in small animal care.
- Pet owners are not aware of SPCA services or cannot access them because they have no means of transporting their animal/s to SPCA or cannot afford to pay for veterinary care
- Animal neglect and abuse is perpetuated by:
- limited understanding of animal welfare and widespread myths about proper pet care e.g. animals are given human medicines incorrectly or herbal remedies, milk and bread/rice is all a dog needs to eat.
- religious beliefs e.g. many Hindus feed their cats a vegetarian/vegan diet
- problems caused by stray dog population e.g. tipping over rubbish, incessant barking, fighting, road accidents, attacks on people
Please note that these figures are highly variable and are intended only as a basic indication of our capacity to care for animals in our veterinary clinic and shelter.
In our Suva clinic we typically have five consults booked each weekday but could have anywhere between one and 20 walk-ins throughout the day.
Our resident vet has on average 50 consults per week, which usually involve treatment for sick or injured pets as well as routine vaccinations and checkups.
In our Suva clinic we spay/neuter an average of 35 dogs and cats each week (owned animals and shelter animals up for adoption). Other routine surgeries include stitch ups, aural haematoma and lump removal. Our vet also attends to emergency cases e.g. road accident injuries and poisonings.
When spay/neutering at outreach clinics we can complete 25 surgeries per day with a two to three-person team (one veterinarian and one-two veterinary nurses).
We have the facilities to house up to 70 adult dogs and puppies and up to 40 cats and kittens which are waiting for re-homing. This is our maximum capacity while still maintaining welfare standards on our premises e.g. cage space etc.
There are 25 kennels for adult dogs, as well as several other kennels specifically for puppies of varying ages. The cattery is located in a separate area to the dog kennels and there are 10 separate kennels.
We have nine hospital kennels and five kennels for boarding (which are often used for either clinic cases or adoption animals). There are eight quarantine cages and 12 isolation cages which are used for clinical cases as well as quarantine of new animals that will be put up for adoption. We are currently seeking sponsorship for the construction of a new intensive care unit.
The number of animals euthanised depends on the number of surrenders/strays we receive and their suitability for re-homing. 2009 records show that on average we euthanise 100 animals per month.
Each month an average of 180 animals (both dogs and cats) are brought into the shelter as strays or are surrendered (unwanted) by the owners.
A large percentage of these animals come to us as litters of puppies and kittens that are less than four weeks old. These babies require full-time care as they cannot feed by themselves and we are unable to keep them due to lack of staff and resources.
If there is a suitable foster home, young puppies and kittens are fostered until a suitable age for the shelter environment. Sadly, we often have to euthanise animals less than four weeks old because there is no suitable foster home for them.
Our records state that we average 25 adoptions per month but we estimate it is more than this based on our veterinarian’s observations (as we are severely under-resourced and under staffed many of our records are incomplete or misplaced).
Common medical problems presented include:
- skin disease (demodectic mange, flea allergy, tick overburden, lice, atopy/allergy, otitis externa, aural haematoma)
- parvovirus and other debilitating gastrointestinal viruses
- poisoning – paraquat, rat and snail bait, 1080 placed by local town councils
- ehrlichia/anaplasma (tick-bourne blood disease)
- heartworm disease
- hookworm (and other intestinal worm) infestations
- transmissible venereal tumours
We would like to increase the number of catch neuter release programs in Suva city and also outreach clinics to surrounding islands but our work in this area is limited due to lack of funding.
- Assistance with recruiting volunteer vets or funding to employ veterinarians from overseas on short-term contracts
- Funding for transport and accommodation for a veterinary team to conduct outreach clinics
- Funding for catch neuter release programs within urban areas
- Funding for continual care of shelter animals up for adoption
- Funding for veterinary/shelter software to improve record keeping and management of the shelter and veterinary clinic
- A fully equipped mobile clinic so veterinary services and animal welfare education can be provided throughout Fiji
- Clinic equipment/medicine. For example: antibiotics, antiparasitic medications (both internal and external), intravenous fluids, anaesthetic drugs, otoscope, opthalmoscope, cautery unit, drapes, bandages etc.
For more information on Fiji’s SPCA or to donate directly, please visit http://www.fijispca.com.