Hundreds of stray dogs sent overseas

A local dog rescue group has moved hundreds of unwanted dogs, some of which were slated to be put down, to “no-kill” shelters in the United States and Canada. 

Canine Friends works with the Department of Agriculture to save dogs and pups facing death row in the department’s kennels.  

“We actually work with rescues based in the U.S. and Canada,” said Casey Keller of Canine Friends. “We let them know when we have the animals available. We work mostly with rescues from the Department of Agriculture, and send them to rescue shelters like Pets Alive in Westchester, in New York.”  

Pets Alive is a no-kill animal sanctuary located on five acres of land in Elmsford, New York. The mission of the sanctuary is to rescue, rehabilitate, and place animals into loving homes.  

According to the organization, last year Pets Alive saved more than 1,000 animals. 

Canine Friends sent 15 of Cayman’s stray dogs to the Pets Alive sanctuary on May 15 and Ms. Keller said she has high hopes the animals will be adopted soon as they were being showcased at a free adoption event over the weekend.  

“The [rescue organizations] in the states absolutely love our Cayman dogs. We are really proud of being able to work with the Department of Agriculture to get so many of those dogs out and to save lives,” said Ms. Keller. 

She said the group sends the adult dogs to no-kill shelters and the puppies to the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, a low-kill shelter, as the pups have a greater chance of being adopted. The pups are put up for adoption at PetCo shops in the area and their adoption fee goes back to the Broward County shelter to cover spay and neuter costs. A low-kill animal shelter only puts down unhealthy animals unfit for adoption. 

Ms. Keller said all the pups that have been sent from Cayman to Broward have been adopted. The pups are pre-approved as ideal adoption candidates before being sent overseas.  

“We have never had any problems with Broward, all of our pups have been adopted from them. We send the pictures to the shelter beforehand to make sure they are great candidates for adoption. We even get to watch them get adopted online through their website,” said Ms. Keller. 

On average, the Department of Agriculture in Cayman puts down 600 stray or abandoned dogs and cats every year. Ms. Keller said the department does not want to put animals to sleep but has limited space to house them. It has 10 kennels, each with the capacity to hold two dogs.  

Canine Friends was founded in 2012 by Ms. Keller and Tracey Goldie. 

Since November 2012, Canine Friends has rescued 178 stray and owner-surrendered dogs and puppies; removed 89 dogs from the Department of Agriculture; transferred 291 puppies overseas; finalized 20 on-island adoptions – with six currently pending; sponsored 72 spay and neuter surgeries; and currently has 27 dogs in foster care homes.  

Ms. Keller said the rescue figures were simply the result of “working at rescuing really hard.”  

“We knew that there was a need for it. The Humane Society is so full and what ends up happening is the dogs end up going to DOA. We are the only organization here that is set up with the DOA to be able to pull the dogs out at no cost,” she said. 

She shed some light on how the group secures overseas transfers for the animals: “We’ll go up to the DOA and see which animals are there and then we take pictures of the animals and the ones that we know will be able to adopt out quickly, we send pictures of those to shelters overseas. Once we know they will have a home, we get local foster homes for them until the time when they are ready fly off.” 

Volunteer opportunities 

Canine Friends does not have an in-house facility, running strictly on the basis of foster homes and monetary donations. 

“We have fantastic, amazing foster people and the animal will stay with the foster parent until they are ready to be shipped overseas,” said Ms. Keller. 

The rescue group is always looking for new foster parents to come on board to offer safe homes for the dogs prior to their departure and the group will pay for all of the animals’ expenses. People can also help by donating frequent flier miles through the Cayman Airways Miles Ahead program. 

“Cayman Airways flies all of our puppies and dogs at no charge as long as we have two people flying with them – a fantastic service that they do to help the cause,” said Ms. Keller.  

The next batch of dogs to be flown to the states will depart on June 22 and will include six animals, including one pregnant dog, from the Department of Agriculture kennels that were rescued on Friday. 

In under two years Canine Friends has rescued 178 stray and owner surrendered dogs and puppies… 

canine friends tranfser

Local stray dogs inside dog carriers are transported to a Cayman Airways plane at Owen Roberts International Airport in November, to be shipped to a no-kill shelter in New York.