With an influx of 58 new animals in the past month, the Humane Society has been forced to stop taking in animals temporarily.
“Within the last two weeks, we’ve been inundated with new animals. Some of them are owner surrenders, some left in the drop box and some are lost dogs that we’ve been returned to owners,” said Lesley Walker, a director of the shelter.
The society is urging residents to either adopt or foster an animal to help free up some space at the shelter, which is currently operating beyond full capacity with 155 dogs and cats.
The George Town shelter and its animal drop-off box will remain closed until some space clears to accommodate more dogs and cats.
“We’ve put up a sign on the drop-box, but it doesn’t stop people [dropping off the dogs], sadly,” said Ms. Walker.
As an incentive for people to adopt animals, the shelter is offering discounts.
“If you are thinking of adopting, come on down. We’ve got a special offer – dogs are half price [$45] and cats are two-for-one. If you can’t adopt, you can help by fostering for short term or medium term. That would be wonderful,” said Ms. Walker.
She said space would not be cleared by putting down animals since the shelter has a no-kill policy.
“We have to stay closed until we can make some space. The alternative to closing is euthanasia and … we are very reluctant to euthanize simply to create space,” she said.
She added that while the shelter is closed, people will have to send unwanted animals to the Department of Agriculture, where around 600 unwanted dogs and cats are put down every year.
Casey Keller of Canine Friends, a group that rescues dogs from the Department of Agriculture, said they had been keeping a close eye on the animals at the department since the Humane Society closed.
“We immediately contacted the DoA to let us know if any dogs were highly adoptable. We are actually going up to pick up two shepherd mixes today, and we will pick up another litter of five puppies, and we’re heartworm testing one to see if we can take her,” said Ms. Keller.
The dog rescue group keeps unwanted dogs in foster homes on a temporary basis and then arranges for the pets to be sent to shelters in the United States and Canada for adoption.
Ms. Keller said she has seen a lot of cases over the past few months of people moving away and leaving their pets in Cayman.
“A lot of it is people are going home on extended holidays and they jump and run. We’ve been contacted by so many people over the last month saying, ‘Can you help me find a home for the dog because I’m leaving?’ or ‘We’ve had a dog for seven to eight years and we can’t take the dog,’” she said.
She added that the situation is frustrating because the process for people to get a dog out of the country is relatively easy.
“The good thing about the Cayman Islands is that it is a rabies-free country, so there is no quarantine. All the dog has to do is get an exit exam done and you just let the airline know and they go straight into cargo,” said Ms. Keller.
Canine Friends is planning to send another group of stray dogs to a no-kill shelter in New York in August.