Facility may open doors in future if space allows
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.