The Cayman Islands has allowed the current situation with stray dogs and cats to get well out of control.
Although one could presumably blame the government for not doing enough to control strays and wandering pets, the ultimate responsibility must lie with the owners of these animals.
The problems that occur with animals, particularly on Grand Cayman, are manifold.
First, pet owners routinely fail to have animals spayed or neutered. They fail to keep dogs especially on their own properties and those animals end up wandering onto other individuals’ properties.
Frustrated home-owners sometimes take severe and illegal measures, such as poisoning or even assaulting these poor creatures. They end up at the local vet and frequently the families who own them can’t afford to pay for the medical treatment. Meanwhile, proving how the pets were injured is difficult at best.
People leaving the Islands fail to secure appropriate homes for their pets and simply abandon the animals to roam. Dr. Brenda Bush points out that it is often impossible to trace ownership in such cases because the pets haven’t had microchips installed that prove who the animals belonged to.
Yes, the Agriculture Department should have more than two animal control officers (one full-time) on staff. And yes, people who don’t take care of their pets by keeping them on a lead or keeping them within their properties can be prosecuted.
But let’s face it: the Cayman Islands government – adrift in a sea of debt and falling revenues – has many issues to worry about in the upcoming budget. Even if the Animals Law (2003 Revision) is re-written, it’s doubtful government will have more resources to dedicate to this topic in the near future.
This is one of those issues where the people who claim to have the best interests of the Cayman Islands at heart need to show it by a) taking care of their animals, and b) volunteering or assisting the various groups that are dealing with the problem.
The Cayman Islands Humane Society needs new space, the CARE group needs people to volunteer as foster families for pets, Cayman Wildlife Rescue needs support and funding.
And everyone – EVERYONE – who owns a dog or a cat needs to take the proper steps to ensure medical care and to control the animal population. Those who do not can no longer claim that they have the best interests of this country at heart.