Bees attack, kill dogs in West Bay

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    A swarm of bees killed two dogs tied up in a yard on
    Shetland Lane in West Bay on Sunday afternoon. 

    A neighbour, who had been keeping the bees, destroyed the
    colony after the attack. A police spokesperson confirmed the incident and said
    inquiries are ongoing. 

    “My dogs were tied up and helpless,” Letitia Paddyfoote
    said. “If I was there, I would have 
died as well.” 

    Ms Paddyfoote left her home around 1pm to go to work as
    property manager at a nearby resort. At about 2pm, her landlord, Vivine Rivers,
    called her saying that bees were attacking her dogs – Castro, a 4-year-old
    pitbull, and Oz, a 2-year-old pitbull mix and the 
son of Castro. 

    Ms Rivers said she and her son, Rolin, were inside the house
    at the time of the attack. They looked outside after hearing Castro struggling
    with the bees. 

    “He had millions of bees on him. You couldn’t hardly see the
    dogs for the bees,” Ms Rivers said. 

    Mr Rivers’ attempt to drive the bees away with a can of bug
    spray was ineffective. Ms Paddyfoote drove home immediately after receiving Ms
    Rivers’ call, but the swarming bees would not allow her to get close enough to
    help her pets, who weighed about 80 pounds apiece.  

    “If I had been out to feed my chickens, the bees would have
    conquered me,” Ms Rivers said, adding that at age 77 she would not have been
    able to run away. 

    Ms Paddyfoote called firefighters and police, who responded
    to try to assist, as did the owner of the bees, Geovanni Garro. Ms Paddyfoote
    said it took about three hours to clear the bees away from the dogs. 

    “I am sorry for the dogs. I am sorry for the lady. But sorry
    may not be a good help. I take full responsibility. I take the blame. It was my
    bees,” Mr. Garro said. 

    Mr. Garro is a crane operator at the port and also has a
    landscaping business. He has lived in Cayman for 23 years. He said he kept bees
    in his home country of Costa Rica, where the practice is more common. He had
    been raising the bees in his yard in West Bay for about two years without
    incident before Sunday. 

    He said dogs were running up and down through his yard, when
    one bumped into the box of bees, riling the colony. That dog was able to flee,
    but Ms Paddyfoote’s dogs in the next yard could not. Mr. Garro has offered to
    attempt to recompense Ms Paddyfoote for the loss of her pets. 

    “Those dogs were so nice. I loved them dogs myself. They
    were almost like children to me. They were the best dogs that I know of,” Ms
    Rivers said.  

    Ms Paddyfoote said she collected some of the dead bees and
    submitted them to a Department of Agriculture official, who told her the bees
    were not Africanised bees. She said she is disappointed that officials do not
    provide information on what to do in case of a bee swarm. 

    Speculation about Africanised bees runs rampant after bee
    attacks, local bee expert Otto Watler said, stressing that he has never seen or
    heard of Africanised bees in Cayman. 

    Unlike the hyper-aggressive Africanised bees, Cayman’s local
    banded Italian bees are known for being docile and not attacking unless
    provoked, Mr. Watler said. However, as in the case with Ms Paddyfoote’s dogs,
    when bees sting they release a serum that signals other bees to attack. 

    “When that scent gets in the air and rest of the bees smell
    it, that’s when it all gets in a frenzy. They will attack anything then, child,
    man, horse, dog, whatever. That’s what happened,” he said. 

    “When a dog is tied, and when bees attack and you don’t get
    it released, it is a matter of death – no question about that,” Mr. Watler

    Mr. Watler likened bees to fire, saying they are both
    beneficial to humans, but also potentially dangerous. If people see a swarm of
    bees, they should use caution and common sense, and keep children and animals
    away from the bees, and not throw rocks or other objects at the swarm, he said.

    People who see a swarm should call the Department of
    Agriculture or Environment, who will then contact Mr. Watler to remove the
    bees. He charges a fee to cover his expenses for removing the bees, which will
    vary according to the time needed for the job. Mr. Watler said the most he has
    ever charged to remove bees was $300. 

    A resident of West Bay for about 56 years, Ms Rivers said
    she had never been bothered by bees before. However, Cayman does have a history
    of occasional but serious bee attacks.  

    In April 2010, bees killed a 4-year-old pitbull as her owner
    gave her a bath outside her home in Bonsal Crescent in West Bay. In September
    2008, 74-year-old George Sherryl Whittaker was stung to death near his home on
    Fairbanks Road. In May 2004, an 86-year-old man died after a bee attack near
    North West Point Road. Less than two weeks later, a 70-year-old man survived
    being stung by bees on North West Point Road, although his pet dog died from
    the attack. 

    Mr. Garro said he will not raise any more bees outside his
    West Bay home, though he said he would like to keep bees again in the future if
    he is able to find a more secluded area. A Department of Agriculture official
    said no permits are necessary to keep bees. 

    Ms Paddyfoote and Ms Rivers said Mr. Garro had three boxes
    of bees, which Mr. Watler estimated could contain “in the vicinity of hundreds
    of thousands, close to millions of bees.” However, Mr. Garro said he had only
    one bee box, containing only about 2,000 bees. 

    Top Story

    Castro and Oz are seen at the beach. The two dogs died Sunday during a bee attack. – Photo: Submitted


    1. There is absolutely no excuse for this.

      These dogs should never have been tied up and left outside. Not only is that a health risk to dogs to be left outside in the summer heat, even if there was shade, in this case it was fatal.

      We are reminded time and time again that Cayman is woefully behind the times when it comes to the treatment of animals.

    2. when bees sting they release a serum that signals other bees to attack made my blood run cold. For this reason alone, Cayman should require anyone who has bees to have a licence, and requirements of that licence be that the bees are properly locked in their hives. Knocking it over should not cause them (2,000 at least) to all come out and attack. Where were the safeguards so that it wasn’t able to be knocked over? Clearly, this careless beekeeper didn’t have his hives securely positioned. Two helpless dogs, tied up and not able to run away, died because of his carelessness. We are lucky it wasn’t a child or another human being. The dogs should not have been tied up in the back yard, how can you say you love animals then tie them up in the hot cayman sun? But that is a red herring, the bees were not secure and the beekeeper careless. Is there not something he can be charged with?

    3. I would like to thank all of those who have left comments; I am very sensitive at the moment so please excuse me if I come across in a way that may seem as if I am being defensive which is not my intentions at all. With that said, I would like to point out a few things.

      First: my yard, which is a rental property is not enclosed
      Second: I am in an area that is well known for dogs being poisoned especially dogs that are running loose in and out of people’s yards
      Third: when I am at home my dogs are loose and in the house with me
      Forth: I don’t have the facility to comfortably accommodate my dogs being locked up all day in my cottage when I am at work; in fact outside is so much cooler due to the sea breeze. They can chill in their houses which is located under gigantic naseberry trees
      Fifth: my cottage is a few feet from a very busy road with cars coming and going my dogs could easily get struck by a car as I have seen a dog just recently get squashed to death on the roadside where I live

      Therefore, it’s not that my dogs were tied because I just didn’t care or were oblivious to the fact that it’s good for your animals to be loose. I walked my dogs in the evenings and in fact some mornings we would walk which means that they would get an outing twice a day. We hanged out all day in the house when I was off work. My dogs were my life: it was my dogs, my job then the Food Network channel. These three things were the only things in my life. I never went anywhere it was either home or at work that’s it.

      Basically, my day consisted of me spending about 40% on my dogs; 50% at work then 10% on myself. My dogs came first in everything right down to me cooking food for them on a daily basis. They were treated as if they were kings. They had frequent visits to the vet; good hygiene, excellent coats and of course tick and flea free.

      I know that in my heat of hearts I went over and beyond with love in abundance for my dogs they were my children. Everyday, I told them how much I loved them everyday was filled with kisses from me and kisses from them. A day would not go by without me expressing my love for them.

      I guess that every dog owner CAN NOT allow their dogs to run loose in their yards especially if they are living in an open rental property like I am. However, because of this experience I would like to add that I will NOT get another dog unless my yard is fenced in so that they can run freely; I will NEVER EVER tie-up another dog – if the yard is not enclosed it does not make any sense to have a pet.

      In closing, I appreciate all the comments. I can understand this situation truly tugs and tears at the heart therefore I know that people want to express how hurt they are for my dogs, which is very much appreciated. At the same time please know that I was at no time neglectful of my pets I was not a bad pet owner they went to doggie heaven knowing that they were loved from the tip of their noses to the tip of their tails and everything in between. It’s just unfortunate that I could not allow them to run loose 100% of the time due to fear of them being poisoned by some inhumane person; getting ran over by a car or getting into fights with other dogs or even stolen. On another note, if I had any clue whatsoever that my next door neighbor was keeping bees just a couple of feet from my back door I would have been outta there in a heartbeat but I was unaware of the dangers lurking which unfortunately took my dogs lives but gratefully saved mine. It could have easily been mine or the beekeeper’s children lives on that Sunday afternoon. My tears will never stop flowing for them they will never be forgotten and I am so happy that they are laid to rest in my mother’s backyard I got my little special place with them where I can come and go so that I can continue to show them how much they are missed and loved.

      Letitia Paddyfoote

    4. This incident should be the one to make the change the rule that bee keepers should be licenced indeed as CaymanMermaid also indicated. We have annual encounters with the bees the moment our smokewood trees are in bloom. There used to be ten of thousands of them however in recent years we can virtually count them so few there are. Bees usually only attack to guard their hive that holds the queen if attacked or disturbed as per personal experience as they do absolutely nothing whilst being on tour but Mr. Otto Watler would know best. Compared to say dogs or cats, bees are not pets by any means and therefore should not be kept by anyone who does not observe the rules and requirements to be a beekeeper as proven again that they can be ruthless killers and bees do what bees do so one can not blame them either.

      In defense of the dog owner, well, I have seen much worse offenders where dogs died in their own yard having been killed by lethal infestations of fleas and ticks right under the noses of their owners and guess what, nothing happened, not even a reprimand to them for actually killing their animals. Personally I too hate to see dogs tied up regardless of reason but in this case the dogs were very well cared for as it seems and her reasons for doing so where not without merit. Also in this case, the bees would have likely gone after the next best or closest victim they could find so something, regardless of what or who would have been most likely killed.

      It is equally sad that the owner of the bees killed the hive as we really do need bees and should have called Mr. Watler to have them removed and preserved.

      Licensed or not, it should be clear that whoever has the inclination to start or already has a bee hive should think at least twice before starting or keeping it as the next victim may be another human being and could be considered involuntary manslaughter if not kept under appropriate conditions where other humans, cats, dogs or whatever has easy access to the hive.

      Under the current conditions, it seems both parties should be excused from any proscecution as no law appears in place to do so but hope other parties will heed this warning to prevent other accidents.

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