The Cayman Islands Humane Society spends a lot of its time looking for homes for dogs and cats.
But now it’s looking for a new home for itself.
After spending nearly 20 years in its location at the junction of North Sound Road and Sound Way in George Town, the 40-year-old Humane Society is hoping to find new, bigger premises.*
Fundraising has already begun to pay for a larger site that can house the society’s animal shelter, its thrift store and its secondhand book shop.
Last week, Cayman National made the first donation to the Humane Society Building Fund, handing over a cheque for $6,000.
Humane Society Director Janette Fitzgerald said ideally the organisation is seeking new premises, but if it can’t find anywhere suitable, then the funds will be spent in repairing and renovating the aging building that the shelter has been in since its inception four decades ago.
The building is too small to house not only the scores of abandoned and rescued dogs and cats there, but also the tens of thousands of books in the Book Loft and the huge quantities of clothing and second hand items in the Thrift Store.
“We have 30,000 books upstairs,” Ms Fitzgerald said. “Over Christmas, we had to ask people to stop donating books to us because we literally had nowhere to put them. A couple of people gave us some storage space, saying they had a spare bedroom, but then again, if the books are not on display, we can’t sell them.”
As of Friday, 11 January, there were 60 cats, 75 dogs and 25 pups in the shelter. “It’s definitely overcrowded,” Ms Fitzgerald said.
As well as having space issues, there are also concerns about the future safety of the building’s structure. “We’ve had an engineer in who has checked it out and it’s safe, but it’s only a matter of time. I don’t know how long we can go on here,” Ms Fitzgerald said.
The upstairs floor is sloping and water has come through the building’s walls when the site has been flooded, all contributing to concerns over how long the building can continue to house the operation before a major overhaul is needed.
“If we can’t find anywhere else, then the money we raise will go towards ensuring the building is safe and structurally sound in the future,” the director said.
The Humane Society first rented the building in 1994 and with the help of public donations bought the premises at auction in 1997.
The society hopes to find a new site that will allow the stores to be on the ground floor, so older people or those with mobility issues will be able to access them easily. *
“We’ve had older people telling us they’d love to buy books here, but they can’t get up the stairs. The same with the thrift store. They’re both upstairs,” Ms Fitzgerald said. “In my perfect world, we would have a big store with the thrift on one side and the books on the other.”
While caring for abandoned animals is the major work of the Humane Society, the organisation could not exist without the donations it receives from the public and from companies in Cayman.
With that in mind, Ms Fitzgerald is also appealing to people to help out with raising money for the Humane Society.
“We need people who have a background in marketing or fundraising who want to help us out,” she said. “There are so many people on the Island who have a talent for fundraising. We need them.” The Humane Society’s largest annual fundraising event, the Fur Ball, will be held on 12 April at the Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort.
To find out more about helping Humane Society with its fundraising or to offer help with finding a new premises, contact Ms Fitzgerald at [email protected]
*Editor’s note: This story has been changed from the original for clarity and accuracy.