We find government’s actions baffling, certainly arbitrary, and possibly political. Is this really the official response to Grand Cayman’s out-of-control animal problem? Does anyone seriously believe that what this country needs is more Rottweilers?
The optics of allowing these breeds (which, in addition to Rottweilers, include Mastiffs, Shar-Peis and Malinois) send the message the country is catering to a culture that is not shared by the vast majority of people who live here, not to mention our tourist population.
Genetics certainly plays a role in an animal’s behavior — but let’s not lose sight of the real issue: human behavior. The truth is, humans can turn any dog into a killer.
Instead of dabbling with lists of banned breeds, what the government should be doing is enforcing anti-cruelty laws against humans who abuse their dogs, and prosecuting those who allow their animals to harm other people or their property.
Given Cayman’s sordid record for mistreatment, neglect and executions of resident pets, the government should focus on punishing perpetrators of animal cruelty and aggressively enforcing laws on leashes, fences, spaying and neutering. Don’t forget that our Department of Agriculture euthanizes about 600 dogs and cats every year, a staggering amount that doesn’t even impact Grand Cayman’s out-of-control population of stray and feral animals.
During a press conference last Friday, the Humane Society aired its concerns about animal abuse being overlooked or ignored by police. A local veterinarian testified that she sees two cases per week of “outright cruelty,” one or two Paraquat poisonings per month and many, many cases of neglect.
Displaying the very best of intentions, the Humane Society announced that people who suspect that someone is abusing or neglecting an animal should contact the shelter, which would then relay the information to the Department of Agriculture.
Right idea, wrong telephone number.
People who suspect that animal abuse or cruelty — or any other crime — is occurring, should call the police first. Then they can call the Humane Society, the Department of Agriculture or, for all we care, the World Society for the Protection of Animals.
The government’s neglect of Cayman’s animal cruelty problem and overpopulation problem has already stretched the not-for-profit Humane Society far beyond any reasonable or practical limits. The shelter can’t handle the perpetual deluge of abandoned animals, can’t keep pace with its sterilization program and certainly can’t now shoulder the additional burden of acting as a Crime Stoppers hotline for pets.
Animal control is one of government’s basic responsibilities. Instead of addressing it by banning (or not) entire breeds of dogs, it should be enforcing laws against base and ignorant people who continue to engage in cruel or criminal animal activity.