JD was in misery. Rail-thin and covered in fleas and ticks, his left hind leg dangled uselessly behind him. Vet Dr. Brenda Bush feared it might be cancer.
But at least he was in safe hands, thanks to a new charity hoping to contribute to the plight of unwanted dogs and cats in Grand Cayman.
Through a chance encounter at a dog wash, JD had been taken in by Cayman Animal Rescue Enthusiasts, or CARE, the brainchild of Lesley Walker, Michele Sabti, Tracey Goldie, Lesley Agostinelli and Kiralee Harnett, and later joined by Alana Julie.
The group’s ambitious vision is to make the Cayman Islands a no-kill community, and where every pet is a wanted pet and homeless pets are history.
Not a very merry-go-round
CARE have made a commitment to assist the Cayman Islands Humane Society by volunteering time to exercise and socialize the many pets abandoned at the shelter as a way to increase positive adoptions.
In fact, it was the dog walking that played a key role in CARE’s inception.
It was May 2008, when, after spending a morning walking dogs at the Humane Society shelter, a few of the volunteers went for coffee.
‘When we had arrived that morning, we were in good spirits because one of the older dogs had just gone to its new adoptive home,’ said Ms Sabti.
‘However, by the time we had finished walking all the dogs, four new dogs had been dropped off. Sitting over coffee, we were exasperated by the fact that there was a never-ending cycle of one dog getting adopted, then three or four coming in to replace him.’
She said the incident solidified the group’s belief that the only solution to the problem is to spay and neuter.
‘We decided then and there that we needed to stop pontificating about the situation and instead try to do something about it,’ said Ms Sabti.
‘We started bouncing ideas off each other, and quickly discovered that we were all passionate about the subject, and within an hour CARE was born.’
The group opened a bank account and decided they would each put in $50 a month, to kick off fundraising.
The group then held garage sales, curry nights, bake sales, and coin collection drives to add to the funds.
‘Some of our more athletic members did runs and Ironman competitions with sponsorship money donated to CARE,’ said Ms Sabti.
‘But our biggest fundraiser was our 2009 calendar, which featured rescued dogs and cats.’
A big task ahead
CARE’s goals are threefold: intensive, easily accessible and, where necessary, free spay and neuter availability; an active trap, neuter and release programme for feral cats; and achieving a change in community attitudes toward spaying and neutering pets through education and example.
The group is hosting dog washes as a way to reach out to the community to promote spay and neuter practice.
‘Dr. Brenda has been incredibly supportive and her team have been working with us to provide low cost spaying and neutering procedures to CARE,’ said Ms Agostinelli.
‘We are also working on an education program for the schools.’
Ms Sabti says CARE has no plans to build a shelter, as the group’s aim is to reduce the need for sheltering unwanted animals.
‘Of course this is not going to happen overnight,’ said Ms Sabti.
‘In the short term we will also continue to rescue homeless, unwanted and sick animals and to find homes for them where we can,’ she said.
‘We are very excited by the positive response we have received and we are looking forward to organizing a number of upcoming events such as a pub quiz night and another volunteer night,’ said Ms Sabti.
Another dog wash is scheduled to take place on Sunday 27 September at the Turtle Nest Inn in Bodden Town.
Ms Sabti stresses that because CARE is a charity, volunteers will play a big part. The group is appealing to people interested in assisting with any number of activities including helping out at dog washes, transferring dogs and cats to and from the vet, participating in the education program, fostering dogs and cats, fundraising, and helping with the feral cat programme.
With so many unwanted pets, there is a lot of help that can be offered. At the moment CARE has six dogs in foster that are either being treated for a medical condition or are looking for adoption. The Paws Flash flyer will be emailed out every Monday with an update on the previous weeks’ dog and a new potential adoption.
And as for JD? An experimental and successful course of antibiotics and pain medication administered by Dr. Brenda revealed he had been suffering from a massive bone infection likely caused by an untreated injury.
The handsome four-year-old is being cared for in a foster home and he loves to play and run, the long lost puppy inside unleashed at last.
But despite all he’s been through, like so many other dogs and cats, JD is still waiting for a forever home.
For more information on CARE visit www.caymancare.ky.