Animal welfare in Cayman: a visitor’s perspective

For my wife and I, visit number five to Grand Cayman is now only a pleasant memory. Cayman as a tropical version of our native Canada: beautiful, safe and tranquil — with warm, welcoming people.

Four years ago, we made the decision to invest in the country both monetarily and emotionally — as Cayman is a place where we would spend considerable time in future years.

To our dismay, this year’s visit brought some dark, underlying issues in the Cayman Islands to our attention. We were front and center to the most recent dump fire, even waking up one morning to find our hotel shrouded in smoke. And local traffic seems to have gotten increasingly more aggressive, unruly and uncontrolled — since when did tailgating become an organized sport?

But the darkest side … the apparent harsh treatment and lack of regard for some domestic animals.

During each of our vacation visits, we volunteer–dog walk daily at the Cayman Islands Humane Society. As 12-year volunteers at our own local animal shelter, we are well-versed in animal welfare affairs and shelter operations in general.

With each visit to the islands, we marvel at the dedicated, caring staff and volunteers of the CIHS, and their management of this incredibly overcrowded and aged little facility.

On our most recent vacation, we found ourselves wanting to devote additional volunteer time at the CIHS, as many of the dogs in residence were obviously abused in their previous circumstances. They were in desperate need of good daily walks and plenty of “TLC.”

And then there was Teddy. Upon seeing his pictures in local media coverage, and hearing of his plight — truly, we were moved to tears.

How could anyone, in a first-world country like Cayman, allow such treatment to happen to this poor dog? Other civilized nations have enacted strict animal cruelty laws to deal with such abuse — with staffing in place to provide enforcement to the letter. Penalties for breaking the laws are severe.

Seeing Teddy, seeing numerous stray dogs running loose and more abused dogs than ever in the shelter — all would lead us to believe that government enforcement of any anti-cruelty laws that do exist in Cayman is highly inadequate. Also, education from a young age is needed to discourage such poor treatment (and excessive breeding) of animals from happening at all.

You all live in paradise; a distinction that is too often lost. How a country treats its domestic animals says much about that country. In concert with education, strict enforcement of laws to prevent animal cruelty is critical — along with the provision of a modern, efficient shelter to care for Cayman dogs and cats that are less fortunate.

Please do this for Teddy. His suffering should serve as a wake-up call for Cayman. It’s the right thing for a world-class nation to do.

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