Shelter: No more dogs for now

    Facility may open doors in future if space allows

    Top Lead

    Due to rampant overpopulation of unwanted animals in Cayman, the Cayman Islands Humane Society shelter has had to stop 
its intake of new animals. 

    “We closed the shelter to incoming animals on June 30th and it will be closed until at least July 15th. We may need to extend the date, if we are unable to get more animals adopted,” said Carolyn Parker, president 
of the Humane Society. 

    The shelter on North Sound Road has been struggling with high occupancy numbers, in part due to many unwanted litters of puppies being dropped off at the shelter and to people leaving the island 
and not taking their pets. 

    At last count there were 120 dogs and 100 cats at the shelter. Fifty dogs at the shelter at 
one time is manageable. 

    The decision to close the shelter to new intakes was made unanimously by the board late last month. 

    “We realised that with so many animals in the shelter, we would be exposing them to any possible outbreak of a virus or disease, should this occur,” said Ms Parker. 

    This is not the first time the shelter has closed its doors to new intakes, with the last closure taking place during the outbreak of the Parvo virus at the shelter. 

    “Our animals are healthy and we want to keep it that way. The rainy season brings real problems for infection and viruses,” she said. 

    According to Twila Escalante, shelter liaison for the society, the shelter often has to take similar steps in summer, with many shelters in the United States following a similar policy. 

    “Summers are always slow and often pets are left in the care of someone else when owners are off Island for an extended period of time. They are in an unfamiliar environment and often they run away and when they are found they are brought to the shelter,” she said. 

    Although these pets are usually claimed by their owners, it adds to the stress on the shelter. 

    The shelter had been running at close to maximum capacity for quite a while, but a steady stream of adoptions had been helping to keep the numbers from spiralling out of control. However, according to Ms Parker, the number of surrenders forced the humane society’s hand on the issue. 

    “This decision was also made after 10 animals were surrendered or brought in during one day. That was the straw that broke our back and we decided to take this measure to give those animals in the shelter the best chance of getting adopted,” she said. 

    She said it was unbelievable that 10 animals were surrendered in one day. 

    The society is pleading for those who could possibly adopt a dog or cat to come into the shelter and see whether they could give an animal a home.  

    However, Ms Parker said people should think things through before adopting an animal, as a long term commitment is needed. 

    “This is a commitment for the life of the animal, not for a time being,” she said. 

    According to Ms Parker, the situation at the shelter will be evaluated periodically and depending on the rate of adoptions the doors may be opened again soon. 

    “If adoptions occur and there is an easing of the space available, we will open the shelter, but until then, we would like to find homes for all those in our care,” 
she said. 

    Ms Escalante added that the response from the community has been very good and that the shelter should be able to return to normal operations soon if the rate of adoptions can continue. 

    According to the humane society, the only viable solution for overpopulation is for people to spay or neuter their pets in order to prevent unwanted litters and in so doing control the growth of Cayman’s pet population. The humane society as well as other organisations on island including CARE have spay and neuter campaigns which offer education on the health benefits of spay and neuter surgery, as well as assistance for those who cannot afford 
the surgery. 

    Top Story 1

    The Humane Society shelter is no longer taking in new animals. – Photo: Eugene Bonthuys


    1. I am very sad, and concerned to read about the shelter’s current situation; and i fully understand that their resources are not unlimited.
      I ask anyone who lives in GC to try and help in any way that they can.
      The Humane Society does such wonderful work, i have every admiration for those involved, and hope that island people will step up to support their efforts.

    2. I agree Humaine Society does a great job.But they also must realize people are struggling to feed their families and having a pet is one more mouth to feed.I know i have 3 big dogs and its not cheap.And by the way one is from the shelter and one is a stray off the street .BUT they must also realize they CANNOT KEEP EVERY SINGLE ANIMAL that comes to the shelter.Some may just have to be put to sleep I sujest put down all the old lame ones i see them walking its cheaper and easier to start fresh with mostly puppies.I know this wont go down well with some of your pet lovers but its the truth….

    3. and continues to do so. Yet we still have a huge overpopulation. Many owners are irresponsible, not spaying their own animals, who have litters, then are set free when the owner no longer wants to feed them all. They go off and 6 months later have litters of their own. Responsible pet care is a HUGE problem on this island.

      The reality is — they will never place 120 Dogs and 100 cats. As soon as a few leave, more come in. And all those animals turned away were likely set loose — to breed and have more litters.

      Why doesn’t the Humane Society put a huge jug at the departures gate for people to deposit their loose change when leaving the island? This could then be put to good use — spaying more animals or expanding the humane society premises.

    4. Unfortunately, it is harder for permit holders to form a life on the island and invest in its interests. More people are leaving than coming and when it comes to taking their pet with them the charges for vaccinations, flights and so forth are too expensive and for survival purposes, have to come after the relocation fees. As pets become part of the family, I’m sure it’s no one’s intention to leave them behind. I think it’s fair to say that most rental properties on island do not allow pets, hence, the low adoption rates.

    5. I am saddened to hear that CIHS has had to close it doors and worry about those animals out there that need a shelter and have nowhere to go. Why aren’t CIHS being more pro-active in sending animals off island for adoption? I know that they worked with CARE (Cayman Animal Rescue Enthusiasts) in the past in sending the puppies to the US. Is there a way for this partnership to be reinstated to ensure that some of the animals get a second chance at finding a forever home and to alleviate the pressures in the shelter? Spay and neuter is the only way forward to ensure that hopefully one day, this pet over population will no longer exist. As for families leaving the island and not taking their pets with them, this is wrong, one shouldn’t adopt if they’re not prepared to take their pets with them, for whatever reason. Pets are for life and people need to ensure that they can commit to 15 years or not adopt at all. People have GOT to stop viewing their pets as disposible and understand that the commitment they make to these animals should be a lifelong one.

    6. People, we can’t get around it. The Animal Shelter needs money and donations! Perhaps, government can implement a law that would fine people who improperly keeps a dog or a cat and fails to neuter the animal whilst allowing it to roam freely. I suggest that the proceeds from all fines and government fees pertaining to domestic animals, go to the Shelter’s aid.

      Problem Solved!

    7. I agree with most of the comments on here although there are a couple of things i question. Shipping puppies off to another country, doesnt solve the overall problem – In the USA there are many high kill shelters that struggle to cope with their own intake of unwanted puppies, kittens, dogs and cats. It may alleviate our own problem here, but it certainly doesnt look at the bigger picture. The spay and neuter programme run by CIHS and CARE do wonderful things but it still comes down to the individual owner to step up and start doing something about it. Maybe stopping the bringing in of entire male and female dogs for the purpose of breeding – i see so many everyday advertised for ever increasing amounts of money. Maybe we should encourage people to have a Cayman mutt rather than a handbag fashion accessory dog! People need to realise that these animals love us unconditionally and we owe it to them, whether we stay on island or leave, to take care of them as we would any other family member. I adopted a puppy – should i ever leave the island, as much as the financial implications will be vast, she will come with me wherever i go!!

    8. So sad, so dreadfully sad; the refusal to take responsibility for a weaker being, to accept that the pleasure and comfort of keeping a pet animal carries with it the responsibility to care for it.
      One is tempted to wonder about divine retribution on such inhumanity; or indeed, whether failed owners should share the fate of their abandoned animals.

    9. After reading today’s editorial and the comments so far, I am pleased to read at least a few are willing to write a comment and most of it makes perfect sense however, what is truly lacking is the enforcement of the laws already in place which is most upsetting of all and we need more laws as usual as more then a few humans simply can not respect the freedom they are given and care for a living being without being told to do so all the time. We have all the facilities in place to do things right for the animals and yet it seems too much effort to make an appointment and all they have to do is drop the animal off and collect them a bit later but no, too much work.

      With this closure, however temporary, we will likely see more animal abuse on the rise for which we do have a DoA welfare officer to look after that but that has been as proven that this department does not function nowhere close to the way it should but moreso, must. Why else would it be there in the first place if nothing is being done anyway.

      I have been advocating most of the suggestions such as mandatory spay and neuter, whether that be domestic or new imports which indeed should be temporarily banned until we run out of animals to adopt. A total enforceable ban on breeding period for that same reason.

      Even with our relatively small population of say 55.000,00, 120 dogs and equally cats should be adopted in a matter of days. Drop the pedigree crap for a while and get a real mutt instead of one with a fancy name which are also mutts anyway except the one true pedigree better known as our old friend the wolf, all others are 1st, 2nd, 3rd etc. etc. generation home made mutts.

      Meanwhile, I still have my check for CI 2,500.00 waiting for that special purpose account at any bank for new premises a while back under the Forum header The Humane Society’s Deathtrap. To date I received 11 thumbs up on that one with great respect for those 11 votes/donations and yet quite pathetic considering the amount of well to do families (no offence intended) we have around here who would not even know the difference donating such a relatively small amount of money for such an important cause as we all know that Humane Societies will never go away based on too much indifference by the human population regardless of where on lives.

    10. Many public shelters in the US do have open door policies like the CIHS does. However, those shelters euthanize animals at an astonishingly high rate. While this is a sad reality, it is exactly that, reality. There are many factors that have increased the number of dogs at the CIHS, but the largest problem in Grand Cayman is people’s lack of education about the importance of spaying and neutering their pets. Realistically, over 12 years, one unspayed female cat, with all her unspayed female offspring, reasonably can be expected to be responsible for over 3,200 kittens if there is no human intervention. The sobering statistics are similar for dogs. There are several agencies on island that offer financial and transport assistance for families that would like to spay and neuter their pets. I encourage everyone with a pet that needs to be fixed to call the humane society, call CARE, or call the veterinarian’s office and make an appointment to get your pet fixed.

      However, the humane society also needs to be accountable for the dogs in their care. Many of these dogs and cats are stressed, ill, and have behavior problems. Wouldn’t it be kinder for these dogs to experience a painless humane death than to live in an outdoor kennel with five other dogs, fighting for food, water, and space to lie down? Euthansia is sad, and noone likes to make these decisions, but when it comes to the health and well-being of the animals in your care, it is a responsibility that you must accept.

      Finally, the CIHS runs solely on donations from the public. They are understandibly overwhelmed and rely heavily on volunteers to walk, bathe, and socialize the dogs and cats in their care. If you are unable to make a financial contribution to the CIHS, please think about taking one hour a week to make a dog or cat’s day a little brighter.

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