Governor gets involved in loose dog complaint

Despite its reputation as a top-notch international financial center and a world-renowned tourism destination, there are still times that remind one the Cayman Islands is a very small place.

One of those reminders occurred this week, when Governor Helen Kilpatrick, Police Commissioner David Baines and a police station commander became involved in a dangerous dog complaint made by a local resident.

Newlands resident Sandra Catron had complained for months about an ongoing situation where her dog, Coco, had been set upon by an animal from a neighboring home. At least four times, Ms Catron said, her pet had been attacked.

According to her, the situation wasn’t resolved until this week, after she contacted Governor Kilpatrick on Jan. 26 about it.

“Dear Governor Kilpatrick,” the email began, “I understand that you have full responsibility for the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service and I would like to lodge a formal complaint against them for not taking numerous dog complaints seriously and taking criminal action against the owners of said dog.

“For over one year, I have been dealing with a dangerous dog next door that has now attacked me and my Shih-Poo dog on four separate occasions. My dog was almost killed on the last occasion and another attack occurred again [Jan. 26]. On the last occasion, I sustained injuries and had to spend time in the emergency room …

“[On Jan. 26] I had a panic attack and started hyperventilating and crying in the middle of the street begging passing vehicles to stop and assist me with this dangerous dog. Three persons stopped including [a local attorney]. The young lady who assisted by holding the dog whilst I contacted 911 was scratched up and had a bloody leg from the dog,” the email began.

The Caymanian Compass contacted Governor Kilpatrick’s office to see if there had been any response to the situation.

“The governor spoke to the police commissioner [Wednesday] about Ms Catron’s complaint,” a staffer at the governor’s office said. “The commissioner informed the governor that a police chief inspector and a representative from the Department for [Agriculture] visited Ms Catron [Tuesday] and agreed the dog should be moved to another location.

“The governor has written to Ms Catron to this effect and hopes that this action has now resolved the matter.”

Ms Catron said no action had been taken on her complaint for weeks prior, despite numerous reports to the RCIPS. She said police Chief Inspector Brad Ebanks’s site visit to her home this week was the “definitive moment” in resolving the issue.

“I’m incredulous that anyone would become so frustrated by the lack of response that they would feel compelled to contact the governor for a resolution,” she said. “Clearly, the issue of dangerous dogs needs to be given some level of priority by the RCIPS.”

Ms Catron said both the Department of Agriculture and RCIPS explained the challenges they have dealing with irresponsible dog owners and taking similar matters to the courts. Officers complained of not having a facility to house dogs and, therefore, being hesitant to remove them. Court cases involving animal issues are often lengthy as well.

“I … believe that a dedicated Animal Court/Division would be an excellent administrative mechanism for the handling of such criminal cases,” she said. “This would allow a selection of magistrates to become familiar with the Animals Law as well as to get better educated on animal welfare and behavior.

“Obviously, this island requires more than one animal control officer.”

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