Petition calls for paraquat ban

Two animal lovers have launched a petition to ban paraquat herbicide in the Cayman Islands. 

The online petition to ban the herbicide, which has been responsible for the deaths of numerous dogs over the years, began on Wednesday and by Thursday morning already had more than 500 signatures. 

Jennie Boyers and Braeden Nicholson launched the petition in response to the ongoing cases of dog poisonings. 

Ms Boyer, a nurse at Island Veterinary Services, who sees cases of paraquat poisoning of dogs regularly at the clinic, said there was a lot of support in the community to ban paraquat.  

“We need to find out who is 
responsible for bringing paraquat into Cayman … we’re going to keep going with this until something gets done,” she said. 

The petition comes as the latest apparent victim of the deadly herbicide – Tyson, a 13-month-old dog – died on Thursday morning after being poisoned Saturday, 9 June in his owner’s yard in Prospect. He was the third dog owned by Renee Knight that has been poisoned. 

Vets euthanised another of her dogs, 7-year-old Romeo, earlier this week after he was poisoned, possibly at the same time as Tyson. In February, Ms Knight lost 5-year-old Zena, who also fell victim to deadly poison. 

“I had five dogs, now I’ve got two,” Ms Knight said. All her dogs are rescue dogs adopted from the Cayman Islands Humane Society. 

Ms Knight said she had left her dogs outside in her front yard for an hour – between 8 and 9pm on Saturday night – while she went to see friends who had arrived in Grand Cayman. “There’s a three-and-a-half or four foot high fence around my house, so there’s no way Tyson could have gotten out,” she said, leading her to believe that poison was deliberately placed in her property to poison her pets. 

When she got home Saturday night, she found Tyson had vomited, but at that stage he did not appear very ill. However, when he started throwing up again at 4am, she took him to the vet’s emergency room. A day and a half later, Romeo also fell ill and was put down two days after that.  

Since her 5-year-old dog Zena was killed in February, Ms Knight, who owns Cayman Diving School, said she had mostly kept her pets in her yard or inside.  

“Everyone loved Zena and always wanted to take her home. She thought she was a person. What a personality she had,” Ms Knight said. 

She has searched her yard for signs of the poison, she said, but did not find anything.  

According to the manager of the humane society, Jason Jairam, people are contacting the animal shelter about poisoned dogs almost every second day in recent months. 

“Honestly, it’s becoming a trend in the Cayman Islands for the last couple of months. Every other day, someone calls to say ‘my dog has been poisoned’. It used to just be around Windsor Park at one point, but now it’s island wide,” Mr. Jairam said. 

“People are purposely doing this. They are setting it as bait,” he said. 

Last month, humane society staff picked up five puppies from a home in the District of George Town whose mother, who was still nursing them, had been poisoned. The dog had already died by the time the owner contacted the humane society.  

“The puppies are good, they weren’t affected. They’re still here with us, but they’re probably going to go to Pets Alive in New York,” said Mr. Jairam. 

Paraquat is banned in much of Europe and has restricted use in the United States. If ingested by a dog, it is almost always fatal. It is also fatal to humans if ingested. There is no antidote and ingestion of the poison leads to a slow, painful death.  

According to the petitioners, “there is no need for this poison in Cayman – there are a number of effective alternatives, and if the EU and US have deemed they can do without [it], so can we.” 

The petition can be found by clicking here.

zena and tyson

Tyson, in the foreground, and Zena were both victims of poison. – PHOTO: SUBMITTED

Romeo

Vets euthanised Romeo earlier this week. – PHOTO: SUBMITTED
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5 COMMENTS

  1. Whoever is doing this is probably reading the comments with amusement, so there is no point in reasoning with them. Whoever it is, I hope you have a long, prolonged and painful death, that somehow ironically, involves poison.

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  2. You know, this has been going on for so long now and hopes have faded for the law makers to do anything about it only because they don’t want to upset the farmers who use this dispicable product. Wake up call: There is a reason why so many countries have banned this lethal product. And why is this? Because it kills any or all it comes in contact with however, it seems not important enough for our legislators to wake up for.

    Tell you what, there is another way we could tackle this lethal problem. I shall instruct my wife not to buy anything anymore from the local farmers, it’s called a boycott. Not a nice way to solve a problem but they leave us no choice so let the farmers among themselves figure out who uses this product instead of viable alternate products and this will separate the good from the bad ones by making our problem their problem, simple as that. This way we may see the farmers who use this product come out of the woodwork to surrender the stock of paraquat they have.

    In the past, I have contacted every retailer on island and they all claim thay have never brought in paraquat or similar under different trade names. The DoA claims they don’t have it either so how it ends up in peoples private backyards to deliberately kill dogs remains a mystery. Murder for hire perhaps?

    We once brought in 25 little packs of certified flower seeds similar to the ones you can buy at a nursery our family send over and guess what, they were all confiscated by customs as it may contain dangerous components but guess again, paraquat seems to be perfectly fine to import without a license by private individuals which is exactly the reason why they do not appear to know who has it.

    Bottom line to all our honourable members of the legislature: Ban it and do it now!!! Please!!!

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  3. This is absolutely one of the most deplorable and disgusting acts I have ever heard of. I hope the individuals responsible for this are found and also charged. Or, at the very least, psychologically treated, as someone who would do this is clearly a disturbed and sick individual.

    A ban on paraquat as well as stricter and harsher animal cruelty laws must be brought to the attention of all citizens. Accounts of animal abuse and torture here are shocking and there must be consequences for these inhumane acts. My heart goes out to those who have lost their pets, who are truly members of our families.

    These individuals should also know that paraquat is fatal to humans as well as animals. Simply by breathing in the substance or touching it with your skin can lead to serious damage to the lungs, kidneys, throat, and can ultimately cause death.

    The individuals responsible for this are therefore quite likely to experience a similar fate as these poor animals. And if that’s the case, I personally would not be sympathetic.

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  4. I am not sure that a simple ban on the import of paraquat is going to be enough.

    It has been illegal to use paraquat in the UK since 12 September 2007 and the use-up period on old stock expired on 11 July 2008 but it is still around over here if you want it.

    A heck of a lot of the stuff was produced, and is still being manufactured, so it will not go away that easily.

    You need to make possession of paraquat a criminal offence. As a herbicide there are (apart from some specific law enforcement applications like control of drug production) far better options so no one has any excuse for possessing it now.

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  5. This situation is a perfect example of the clash of cultures found here in Cayman. There are those who see their pets as members of their family to be loved and cared for and there is another culture that view pets as little better than vermin to be killed off at will.

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