Adopting a dog might not have been the first thing on the list when Dawn DeSantis and her husband Claudio Mancini decided to spend their honeymoon in Cayman. However, thanks to their generosity, one of the residents of the Cayman Islands Humane Society shelter on North Sound Road can now call Connecticut home.
Although this was their first visit to the Cayman Islands, Ms DeSantis and her husband had visited other Caribbean islands, primarily St. Thomas, in the past and found Cayman to be very different.
“It is always heartbreaking to see the countless stray animals wandering the streets there, so on two occasions during our vacations in St. Thomas, we have gone to the Humane Society, a very high-kill shelter, to rescue a dog,” she said.
When she arrived in Cayman, she was struck by the cleanliness of the island and the fact that she did not see stray dogs wandering the streets as she did in St. Thomas.
“I assumed that because Grand Cayman is a wealthy island, that the animals on the island were well cared for,” she recalled.
However, during dinner one evening she learned that she had come to the wrong conclusion.
“During the course of the evening, my husband and I overheard some restaurant patrons at a table behind ours discussing a dog that they had rescued. When we were leaving the restaurant, we stopped by to chat with them and it was then, to my absolute horror, I learned that the Cayman government traps dogs and euthanises them. One of the individuals at the table suggested that I bring a bag of dog food to the Humane Society if I wanted to help the animals,” she said.
“The next day I called the Humane Society and spoke with Steve [Marshall, the shelter supervisor] who told me that Cayman Airlines accepts dogs in baggage so my husband and I made a trip to the shelter.”
When she arrived at the shelter, Ms DeSantis asked to be shown the dogs most in need of a home.
“One of those many dogs was Nelson. We were told that he had been dropped at the shelter when he was just 4-weeks-old and that he was just about to turn 2,” she said.
Although she found it difficult to pick just one dog, they could not take more with them and Nelson ended up being chosen.
The Humane Society acted quickly to get Nelson ready for the trip, including getting him to the veterinarian so he could get his exit papers and three days later he was ready to fly.
“I have never had a pet fly in baggage before and when I shared my concerns with the Cayman Airways employees, they were very kind and reassuring. Nelson arrived safe and sound in New York a few hours later and he was the first to be taken off the plane. The Cayman baggage personnel kept a watchful eye on Nelson while he waited for us to get through customs to claim him,” she said.
According to Ms DeSantis, Nelson, who has since been renamed Sneakers, has settled in very well in his new home.
“Nelson is amazing! He was house-trained almost immediately. He gets along beautifully with our three dogs and loves his daily morning walks and romping in the yard with the others,” she said.
Apparently he also has a couple of unique and endearing quirks.
“Every night when I turn out the lights, he tiptoes over to a basket where I keep the dog toys and one-by one, he carries them all over to his bed and then when all the toys from the basket are by his bed, he goes to sleep. He is just so lovable and fun,” Ms DeSantis said.
She said that they will be fostering Nelson until they can find a new home for him.
“We would love to keep him, but we feel that he deserves to be in a home where he doesn’t have to share his family’s attention with three other animals. We think a home with one other dog for him to play with would be perfect and we will keep him until we find a fabulous home for him,” Ms DeSantis said.
Other Cayman dogs may well come to benefit from the trail blazed by Nelson, as Ms DeSantis hopes to bring more Cayman dogs over to Connecticut as part of a dog transfer.
“Animals For Life, the rescue organisation of which I am a part, will be designating one of our 10 shelter runs as the ‘Cayman Dog’ run. We will be taking in dogs, one-by-one from the Cayman Humane Society to rehome. The first dog is expected to arrive this week and as soon as she is adopted, we will notify the Humane Society that they can send another.”