The small, unwitting victims of the economy

Businesses and
people are not the only ones to suffer when the economy hits hard times.

For
many people, lost employment means the need to cut down on any nonessential
expenses. This involves making some very difficult decisions. For some, it
means having to give up a dear friend.

Pets
are often the smallest victims of an economic downturn. Some owners can no
longer afford to feed their pets, while others, forced to downsize due to
financial constraints, have to move to accommodations where they are no longer
allowed to keep pets.

The
fortunate among these animals end up finding new homes with friends or family.
Many others end up at the Cayman Islands Humane Society.

It
is vital for prospective pet owners to consider the financial impact of the pet
before adopting. Between feeding and medical expenses, pets can put an added
strain on an already stretched budget, making it tough to keep the pet.

“There
are residents who surrender their dogs because they can no longer care for
them, either for economic reasons or they are not allowed to keep their pets
any longer in their dwellings. We do our best to screen each person and if it
is economic, offer to help them until they can get back on their feet,” said
Twila Escalante, shelter liaison at the Cayman Islands Humane Society.

However,
these are the fortunate ones. Many other animals are merely abandoned and left
to fend for themselves.

Many
people have noticed small packs of dogs roaming the Island over the last couple
of months, often dogs wearing collars. However, even if these dogs are still
being fed by their owners, they are clearly not being kept safe as they are
allowed to roam the Island freely.

The
Department of Agriculture is tasked with controlling stray animals in Cayman.
Once stray animals are captured, the Department allows 15 days for owners to
claim their animals. If an animal has a collar with identification or microchip
identification, the Department will attempt to contact the owner. However, if
no-one comes forward to claim the animal, it will be euthanised.

It
is therefore very important for owners to keep their animals safe, and start
searching for them as soon as they go missing. Seeing to it that a pet has the
necessary identification is also vital, as it can save your pet’s life should
it go missing.

Another
problem faced by societies on Island that care for abandoned animals is that
some work permit holders adopt pets in Cayman but do not intend to take the
pets with them when they leave the Island. With the current economic climate
forcing more people than usual to leave Cayman, this causes definite problems
for the organisations, as these animals suddenly require new homes and often
end up back at the Humane Society shelter. Even though these animals are
thoroughly house trained and have lovely personalities, older animals often
face a much harder time finding a new home, as many prospective pet owners
would rather adopt a puppy or kitten.

“More
thought must go into why you take a pet on in the first place. Cats and dogs
live for an average of 15 years or more, so that’s the length of commitment one
should be prepared to give,” says Lesley Agostinelli of Cayman Animal Rescue
Enthusiasts.

Although
many people readily adopt animals, Agostinelli and others feel that it is a
symptom of modern society that pets are often treated the same as other
possessions and not as members of the family.

“Can
our consumerist society really have reached a point where we want a companion
for the time we are away from home, but don’t feel the commitment to that
companion to take them with us or leave them well-cared for?” asks Agostinelli.

Many
people who adopt animals are not aware of the possibility of taking their
animals with them when they leave Cayman.

“If
you are considering adopting a pet, they must also be part of an evacuation or
relocation strategy,” she says.

Most
countries will accept pets from Cayman as long as the required health checks
and inoculations have been dealt with.

“Here
in Cayman we do have the advantage of having good veterinary support, so it is
possible to arrange pet transport and to have animals micro-chipped so they can
travel. We know of many people who have taken their local rescue animals with
them when they moved first to one country and then another, and the animals
seems none the worse for the travel,” says Agostinelli.

Many
countries require pets to be fitted with a microchip for identification
purposes. However, even if you are not planning to travel with your pet soon, a
microchip is still a good idea as it allows for the quick identification of a
pet.

For
travel to the United Kingdom, apart from being fitted with a microchip, your
pet will also require two rabies vaccinations, which need to be given 30 days
apart. These vaccinations can only be given at the Department of Agriculture. A
minimum of 21 days after the second vaccination, your pet has to be taken for a
titer blood test to see whether the vaccinations were successful. The blood
test can be performed at a local veterinarian and the test results take 14 to
21 days. If your pet passes the test, it will be eligible to travel to the
United Kingdom six months from the date of test. Taking your pet to the United
Kingdom sooner is possible, but the animal will then have to spend the
remainder of the time in quarantine until six months have elapsed.

A
health certificate needs to be issued no more than 48 hours and no less than 24
hours before the date of travel. The health check can be done at a local
veterinarian, but the document will have to be endorsed by the Department of
Agriculture on the same day.

For
travel to the United States, dogs and cats do not require proof of rabies
vaccinations, as Cayman is considered a rabies-free area. However, in order to
avoid too many questions at the airport, it might be advisable to have proof of
rabies vaccinations. For the United States, the period required between
vaccinations and transport is 30 days. Many airlines will require a health
certificate, so it is best to get one even though the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not require it.
The health certificate can be obtained after an examination of the pet by a
local veterinarian, who will then fax the certificate to the US Department of
Agriculture in order for an export permit to be issues. The process can take in
excess of three working days so it is important to leave enough time and the
permit will need to be picked up from the Department of Agriculture when ready.
Once issued the permit is valid for 14 days, which means that outbound travel
must take place within 14 days.

It
is always very important to check with the airline with which you will be
travelling, as different airlines follow different procedures when it comes to
exporting pets. Restrictions might apply depending on the weather at your
origin or destination, while some also limit the number of pets that may be
carried on any flight. It is therefore very important to book a pet for travel
well in advance of the intended date of travel in order to ensure that your pet
can travel with you.

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