Renewed push to ban paraquat

Nearly 5,000 people have signed a petition to ban the herbicide paraquat in the Cayman Islands. 

Four dogs died over the Christmas and New Year’s holidays in Grand Cayman after eating the herbicide. They are among scores of dogs throughout territory that have been fatally poisoned in recent years. 

A Facebook group has been set up, along with a petition, to garner the extent to which people oppose the sale or importation of paraquat and to call on local government to ban it. 

Island Veterinary Services nurse Jennie Boyers, one of the organisers, said: “My main aim for this year is not only to get paraquat banned, but to hopefully get a pesticide and toxic chemical board to regulate all poisons coming into Cayman. Most Caribbean islands have this in place already and I know for a fact that they had started to set one up here about 10 years ago, but it never happened. They had several people on the board and even travelled to Jamaica to see how their’s was run.” 

The anti-paraquat movement has organised a candlelight vigil at Smith Cove at 5.30pm on Saturday, 12 January, to remember the dogs that have fallen victim to the herbicide, which is almost always fatal when ingested. 

The group also hopes to hear from anyone who has lost animals to paraquat poisoning in the Cayman Islands, so it can determine if the poisonings are more prevalent in certain areas and to draw up a map of where the poisonings have occurred. 

“This will also help us find out how many dogs have been poisoned over the years. No one really knows,” said Ms Boyers, who has seen and treated many of the poisoned dogs that have passed through the veterinary clinic. 

During the Christmas and New Year holidays, four dogs in Grand Cayman were brought to the clinic suffering from what appeared to be paraquat poisoning. Two of the dogs were from Prospect, one from East End and another from West Bay. All four dogs died or were euthanised. 

Paraquat is almost always fatal once ingested, usually causing a slow and painful death by suffocation because of the damage it does to the respiratory system. There is no cure for paraquat poisoning.  

The Cayman Islands Department of Agriculture stopped importing and selling paraquat, which is used as a weed killer by farmers, in 2009. But there are no restrictions to the importation or sale of the herbicide in the Cayman Islands, so there is nothing to prohibit individuals from bringing it into the territory. 

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4 COMMENTS

  1. And a huge fine given to anyone who possesses it. It’s just a matter of time until a child ingests it. Why do we have to wait for this to happen? Why are they taking so long to ban this deadly herbicide. There are other, safer, ways to kill weeds. What possible reason could anyone give for not banning it? Why is Cayman always so painfully slow to do anything? Bad enough that so many loved pets have died a horrific death. Do children have to die too?

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  2. Why is it that dogs are treated as second class citizens here in Cayman? They’re often treated no better than a doormat. Many people are more likely to swerve to miss a chicken than a dog! My dog is my child. Not just like my child. She IS my child. I am not alone in my thinking. So many dogs are, and should be, considered very important members of the family. The Children. So it’s not just a matter of time until a child ingests it. Children have been ingesting it all along.

    Are we waiting until a high ranking government official’s child’s beloved pet gets killed by Paraquat for anything to happen???

    I would be devestated if my dog died due to paraquat poisoning, and so many people already are devetated. The time to act is NOW!!

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  3. It simply baffles me, for a very long time actually, how it is possible for anyone to import chemicals of just about any nature rather then licensed importers. Who is the authoritry, if any at all who decides who can import what in terms of deadly chemicals? Customs has claimed before that they do not know under what import detail paraquat is listed among all other chemicals that come in here. Talk about having your head in the sand! For crying out loud, how hard can it be to classify this stuff, really!! I am starting to believe that certain individuals keep paraquat on hand just to kill dogs, rather then weeds. Paraquat, like agent orange is used for mass weed destruction and not for your occasional weed that pops out on your driveway. It can not be used in combination or even close to anything else that one wishes to preserve as it kills everything in close proximity. So, tell me, who is doing mass weed eradication on this island without wanting to bulldoze it? I’m pretty sure nobody is as it would be prohibitly expensive to do so not to mention so very lethal that more then dogs would have died by now. CaymanMermaid is right, we’ll just have to wait until a child dies from it.

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  4. Caymer – while I share your love for dogs and applaud the general sentiment of your post I really wish you (and many others)would not misapply the phrase second class citizen. While a dog can make a wonderful companion it is not a human and therefore cannot be a citizen whether first, second or third class. It is often used in respect of expats as well who are by definition not citizens at all.

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