Two more dog attacks have been reported in West Bay over the past two weeks, and it appears the Royal Cayman Islands Police have finally lost their patience with irresponsible pet owners.
‘We’ve been warning the owners about trying to take proper control of their dogs, and they seem to not heed that so we’re now going to be prosecuting people,’ said Chief Inspector Richard Simms, the West Bay Police station commander.
RCIPS can issue fines to people who allow their animals to stray. Cayman Islands law also provides up to a two year prison sentence for owners of animals whose pets attack and injure someone.
The courts can also order animals destroyed if they are determined to be dangerous.
The two most recent attacks occurred in the run-up to the Easter holiday. One man was bitten on the leg on 4 April. A woman reported being confronted by a group of five dogs on the beach near Sand Hole Road on 30 March.
Gwynne Ebanks said her own dog protected her from being bitten in the 30 March incident. But she said those five animals are becoming a problem in her secluded West Bay neighbourhood.
‘I have watched tourists who come to (the Sand Hole Road) beach, and have to run for their lives when these dogs discover they are there,’ Ms Ebanks said.
The man who was bitten on 4 April was taken to hospital.
Mr. Simms confirmed police were investigating the most recent attack, though he was uncertain if the 30 March incident had been reported. A police spokesperson said last week that both reports were being looked into.
Mr. Simms did not state whether the same animals were involved in both attacks.
Mr. Simms said two areas of West Bay in particular, Sandhole Road and Up the Hill Road, are having problems with dangerous dogs. But he said strays are troubling all of Grand Cayman.
‘I see people in George Town even complaining about it, that they can’t walk the neighbourhoods because of these dogs that constantly run the streets,’ Mr. Simms said.
RCIPS statistics seem to bear that out. Since February, at least 10 dog attacks have been reported on Grand Cayman.
Six of the incidents occurred in February; three were in West Bay, one on Turtle Lane, one was on Smith Road, and the other happened on Powery Drive.
Loose and barking dogs were reported 4 March on Comber Avenue and on 6 March a homeowner on Dunlop Close said some dogs were loose in the pool area destroying things.
The two latest incidents were the 30 March and 4 April attacks.
Five of the 10 attacks ended in someone being bitten or scratched.
The attacks come against the background of sharply increased collections of strays by the Department of Agriculture and Humane Society shelters.
According to figures compiled by the Caymanian Compass, collections of stray dogs and cats went up about 25 per cent from 2005 to 2006. The shelters reported 1,785 strays collected in ’06, compared to 1,427 collected in ’05.
An Agriculture Department spokesperson said last year’s stray dog and cat collections were the highest numbers seen in quite a while.
The department also had to euthanize more animals in 2006 than it did in 2005. Nearly 1,600 dogs and cats have been put down in Grand Cayman over the past two years.