900 dogs put down

Up to 900 dogs have to be rounded up and euthanized in Cayman every year.

‘That’s heartbreaking for me and everyone involved,’ said Animal Welfare Officer Maggie Baldino.

And although that number actually represents a fall in the dog death toll from what it has been in the past, she said the total is still too high and she is doing everything she can to get that sad total greatly decreased.

‘I would like to see us get to the point where people cherish their pet dog and see it live out its full life,’ she said.

‘We need to educate people that owning a pet is a lifetime commitment and a responsibility that should be taken seriously,’ she said.

Ms Baldino, who was animal cruelty liaison officer with the Royal Cayman Islands Police, recently took up the animal welfare officer job with the Department of Agriculture. She was with the police eight years.

She is responsible for investigating cases involving cruelty to and neglect of animals.

Her caseload is made up dealing with reports of things such as tethered animals, which are often undernourished and in need of medical care.

Ms Baldino sees the main part of the job as the education of members of the public she comes into contact with and having a high profile at events such as the Agricultural Show and the Dog Show.

She is also keen to get information into the schools so that children can develop an understanding and appreciation of animals at an early age.

Ms Baldino is stressing the importance of people taking responsibility for their animals, of the spaying and neutering of animals to help keep the population of unwanted animals down and of the free dog licence.

‘The dog licence and tag is important because if a dog escapes it can be easily identified and returned to the owner,’ she said.

‘I also want to convince people that spaying and neutering does not harm the animal physically,’ she said.

‘It can actually benefit the animal by improving its health and even lengthening its life,’ she said.

‘I am enjoying the job very much. It’s wonderful to go out and meet fellow animal lovers. That is a reward in itself,’ said Ms Baldino

‘I hope to increase awareness and strengthen the bond that we have with our companion animals.’

‘There is increased awareness of animal welfare and of the importance of it and I believe that will get even better,’ she said.