Esther Honey manager leaves the island

Esther Honey Foundation practice manager Carl Hartnett has returned home to Australia.

Esther Honey Foundation practice manager Carl Hartnett has returned home to Australia.

Cook Islands News
Monday 23, Sept

The Esther Honey Foundation’s practice manager Carl Hartnett said a sad farewell to the Cooks Thursday evening.

Hartnett started his work at the foundation in January after moving to the Cooks from Melbourne, Australia. He recently decided to return to Australia to have access to medical treatment that is unavailable in Rarotonga.

Clearly saddened to be leaving earlier than planned, Hartnett said he will be staying in close contact with the Esther Honey team, acting as an ambassador in Australia and helping to raise funds for the clinic and raise awareness about the foundation.

“I’ll definitely come back and visit and volunteer,” he said. “I’m really upset to be going but I’ve got to do what’s right for me, and what’s right for the clinic.

“I especially want to thank everyone who made me feel so welcome and helped out. The people here are so lovely.”

Hartnett fell in love with the Cooks when he came for a holiday in 2011, and returned in 2012 to volunteer at Esther Honey for two weeks.

“I absolutely loved it – the animals, the people, just the place itself.”

At the time, he was working as a vet nurse and ambulance driver at Melbourne’s Lort Smith Animal Hospital – the largest not-for-profit animal hospital in Australia. The hospital featured on the television programme ‘Animal Emergency’, on which Hartnett featured regularly.

After six years at the hospital, Hartnett accepted the position of practice manager at Esther Honey.

However, his time in the Cooks hasn’t been smooth sailing. A few days after his arrival, he broke his leg in a scooter accident. He remained on the island after receiving treatment at Rarotonga hospital, bringing his dog of 14 years, Jasper, over to the Cooks from Australia.

“He had bad arthritis I knew it was a one-way trip,” said Hartnett – who said the dog loved the water and the warm climate in the Cooks which made the dog more comfortable.

However, Jasper passed away prematurely after venturing onto the road and being hit by a car. A few weeks later, when an X-ray showed Hartnett’s broken bone wasn’t healing properly, he flew back to Australia to have it operated on, spending around two months there before heading back to Esther Honey at the start of May, equipped with a ‘moon boot’ for his leg.

Since then, Hartnett has been working hard to promote desexing of animals on the island and helping to organise the canine census.

His return to Australia will see Australian vet Michelle Gray take over the running of the clinic on a temporary basis – with help from Esther Honey’s volunteers – until a replacement is found.

Hartnett is looking forward to seeing his family and his two dogs Pepe and Prinie, who are currently living with his mother. He intends to take a few months to settle back in, but said he definitely wants to continue to work with animals in the future.

The Esther Honey Foundation was founded in 1994 by president and chief executive officer Cathy Sue Ragan-Anunsen after she came to the Cooks on holiday in 1993 and was befriended by a Rarotonga dog named Honey.

The foundation performs vet services, including desexing, for free and relies largely on donations to continue its care. The Esther Honey clinic can be contacted on 22336.

~Briar Douglas