Animal lover volunteers to help four-legged friends overseas

veterinary nurse Kate Opitz

Vet nurse Kate Opitz, with some of her pals from NT Veterinary Services, is ready to help animals in need as a volunteer to the Cook Islands. Photo property of Katherine Times.

KATHERINE veterinary nurse Kate Opitz relishes her work, and enjoys being able to assist the array of creatures who come to the vet surgery in need of care, but for the animal lover, there is one big goal she has at the top of her list.

“I am hoping to travel to the Cook Islands to volunteer at the only veterinary clinic there in December,” Ms Opitz said.

She said she is drawn to spending time early in her career working in challenging circumstances and giving something back.

“I came down from Darwin in January, where I’ve worked as a veterinary nurse since 2010, and I now work at NT Veterinary Services here in Katherine, where I’ve really gotten to know everyone and their pets” the energetic 24-year-old said.

“I’ve volunteered overseas before, and when I read of the Esther Honey Foundation, which is seeking a solution to the over-population of dogs and cats on South Pacific Islands, largely through de-sexing and care of stray animals, I knew I wanted to help” Ms Opitz said.

While her plans are well in place to fly to the Cook Islands in the first week of December, Ms Opitz said it is her hope to collect some donations, which may include basic items to help when she is over there, such as heart worm tablets, flea treatments, syringes and antibiotics.

“The Esther Honey website has a list of their most immediate needs,” she said.

As well as going some way to assist her with flights, the program fee and accommodation and food, Ms Opitz said she hopes that donations will help her to have some items and funds to put directly into the clinic.

“My aim is to raise $2,000, as I really want to get some veterinary and medical supplies which we have such good access to in Australia,” Ms Opitz said.

“The Esther Honey clinic provides free service to its animals, and they really are a stand-out facility in that area, I really want to help there for a month or more if I can.

“While the islands should be beautiful, I know a lot of what I see will be heartbreaking,” Ms Opitz said.

“But I’m looking forward to working in a new place, and using the skills I have to help,” she said.

Ms Opitz said the Cook Islands are thankfully free of diseases such as rabies, but a continual stream of volunteer veterinarians and vet nurses are relied upon to care for thousands of pet and stray cats and dogs each year.

“The service they provide is so essential, and they’ve been established since 1994,” Ms Opitz said.

“I’ll be working from about 8am until 5pm in the clinic as well as helping with after-hours emergencies.

“We will spend time looking for street strays who need attention, and I’ll help with their de-sexing project,” Ms Opitz said.
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“This is something I will feel lucky to be able to do, and I think it will help even more with my work when I return to Katherine,” the vet nurse said.

“I think I’ll appreciate even more the services Katherine people and their animals have access to here, in such a small town.

“That’s one thing which is the same everywhere – people love their pets,” Ms Opitz said.

To donate to the animal lovers’ cause, and to help her to help the animals of the Cook Islands, visit her fundraising page online at

Source: Katherine Times, November 21, 2012