Shelter is at maximum capacity
The Humane Society’s shelter on North Sound Road is at maximum capacity, making the future of some of its residents uncertain.
“We try our very best to give every dog and cat passing our doors the best opportunity to get a home, but sadly these are times when tough decisions may have to be made,” said Twila Escalante, shelter liaison for the Humane Society.
This is especially dire news for some of the longer term residents of the shelter, whose chances at adoption are often much lower than younger animals.
Spring is a difficult time for the Humane Society as many puppies and kittens are dropped off at the shelter.
“Unfortunately, some owners decide they no longer want the mom as well and often surrender her in a terrible state. We try our best to find good homes for all,” said Ms Escalante.
Some of the animals are fortunate enough to qualify for a puppy transfer to shelters in the United States, but generally the shelters there only accept puppies.
“Broward [Florida] Humane Society will take older puppies, four to five months, or smaller dogs. We will be taking four older puppies and 12 puppies on our next transfer this month,” said Ms Escalante.
However, this is a mere drop in the bucket when measured against the number of animals taken in by the shelter on an annual basis.
The dogs in the puppy transfer programme are not the only ones to find homes overseas. “There are visitors who either visit the shelter during their holiday here or see our dogs at beach training or with volunteers on the beach and take them back home with them. We are presently making arrangements to send three more dogs to the US to owners who adopted them while they were here on holiday,” said Ms Escalante.
However, the core of the shelter’s adoptions remain Cayman residents.
“Adopting a dog from the Humane Society is a good option because you are giving your shelter buddy a second chance. Many of our dogs come from homes and even though they miss their homes terribly, they quickly adjust to a new home, and can be easily house trained. We also have a volunteer training programme which takes place every Saturday morning and our dogs are trained in basic commands such as stay and come,” she said.
Although the dogs at the shelter often receive a lot of the attention, the shelter also houses many cats and Ms Escalante believes that for many, adopting a cat may well be an easier option than adopting a dog.
“They are easier to care for. However, in recent times, lots of cats have been surrendered even though they have been in homes for many years. It is a very sad time for both owners and pets. It is, however, relatively easy to transport a cat off the island, as it can travel in cabin and only needs an exit visa, which takes just three days to process,” she said.
For anyone not quite certain whether they are ready to adopt a pet or uncertain as to which pet to adopt, there are other options available.
“We have foster and sleep-over programmes which help to socialise the animals and give them a break from the shelter” she said.
Ms Escalante said it costs $40 per month to feed, house and care for each dog at the shelter. For an organisation that relies on financial assistance from the public, that adds up to a very big expense each month. Those who are unable to adopt an animal, or who already have a number of pets, can always sponsor a shelter resident for three, six or 12 months.
People can also volunteer to walk the shelter dogs, which helps to relieve some of the frustration the animals feel from having to live in the overcrowded shelter.
“Our shelter is a humble place and we are hoping one day to have a proper facility for our shelter buddies. In the meantime, we have a dedicated group of volunteers who spend lots of their free time socialising our dogs to give them a jump start on finding a new home,” said Ms Escalante.
However, the only long-term solution to the problems the Humane Society shelter faces is a reduction of the unwanted pet population in Cayman.
“If everyone would just spay or neuter their pets, it would stop over-population and the unnecessary death of so many innocent dogs and cats,” said Ms Escalante.