For a few years now, local vet Geoff Neal from Blockhouse Bay Vets has spent a couple of weeks of his annual leave in Tonga to work with South Pacific Animal Welfare (SPAW) as the on-island veterinary service for the country.
Several of the current and past veterinary nurses and vets at Blockhouse Bay Vets have also come along on these trips, getting in-depth, hands-on experience, while contributing to the overall success of the clinics. Geoff’s most recent trip to Tongatapu, in December 2018, included their new vet nurse, Hannah Jull, as part of the team.
It is not just dogs and cats that Geoff attends to on these trips. The clinics that SPAW run in Tonga (and other islands) are full-service clinics, seeing animals of all shapes and sizes.
The December trip involved plenty of variety, including horse castrations, spaying and neutering 190 dogs and cats, castrating pigs, and dehorning cows. However, it also provided plenty of challenges, including field anaesthetising over a ton of Beefmaster bull in order to remove his deformed testicle, and a caesarean on a cow (in a paddock, under a coconut tree).
Find ‘SouthPacificAnimalWelfare’ on Facebook to see what they get up to and to follow these trips. You can also watch out for the 2019 clinics which are already underway. If you would like to donate to SPAW you will find information at www.spaw.org.nz. It’s amazing how much a small donation can achieve.