The Department of Agriculture has opened new and improved impound facilities for holding stray horses.
Far from the public eye in a secure pasture within the department’s compound at Lower Valley, the department, through a partnership with the Cayman Islands Equestrian Foundation, has built a new enclosure to house impounded horses.
“In the past, we did not have a very good dedicated facility for holding horses and were having to just hold them in various areas of pastures on the grounds, which were more designed for keeping cattle,” said the agriculture department’s assistant director Brian Crichlow.
He explained that the previous means of holding the horses was not ideal as they would have been kept behind barbed wire fencing, against which the horses may rub up against.
“Similar with dogs and other stray animals, when a horse is impounded, it needs a comfortable place with shade, water and food to reside,” he said.
The Equestrian Foundation also identified with the need to have a proper facility for the horses, and through a series of fund raisers, used the proceeds to purchase materials, and constructed a fence, as well as a covered area in the new paddock.
According to Mr. Crichlow, the foundation met with the Department of Agriculture some time ago to discuss various issues about proper care for the horses and how it could work with the department to help with the situation. One of the first things Mr. Crichlow said they identified was that the impound facilities needed improving.
“What the Agriculture Department had was only temporary and not ideal for horses,” said Mr. Crichlow, adding that the foundation volunteered to assist the department to upgrade the facility by providing volunteer labor to improve the land and build a wooden fence enclosure.
On most occasions when the Department of Agriculture impounds a horse, it is because the animal has been found straying on public or private land or it has been left in a neglected condition. When owners come to collect animals, they have to pay an impound fee; if horse is not claimed or collected, the horses will be put up for auction and the money goes into the government’s purse, Mr. Crichlow explained.
According to the department’s veterinary officer Dr. Kanyuira Gikonyo, his office is aware of the Equestrian Foundation’s aim to contract the services of an equine vet to visit the pasture occasionally and supplement the work of Agriculture staff and St. Matthew’s University School of Veterinary Medicine.
There are also plans to hold clinics for the benefit of horse-owners.