Stray dogs targeted after attack on governor Kilpatrick

Governor bitten in attack on the beach

Out-of-control dogs are being targeted following an attack on Cayman Islands Governor Helen Kilpatrick and continued attacks on endangered blue iguanas at the Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park. 

Baited traps have been laid in the area close to where the governor was attacked, near her home on Seven Mile Beach, as she tried to save her cat from being mauled. The governor was treated for minor injuries at the scene last week. 

Meanwhile, a gun club sniper has been called in at the botanic park to target stray dogs, which have killed at least five blue iguanas there in the past month. The National Trust plans to build a fence around the park at a cost of more than $100,000 to keep dogs out. 

Animal welfare advocates say the attack on the governor and the incidents at the park are just the latest high-profile examples of a significant ongoing problem with abandoned dogs, and they have called for more resources for animal control and public education. 

The governor’s office confirmed Wednesday that she had received “minor injuries” in the dog attack. 

“It is believed that this is one of several recent incidents involving the same dogs,” a spokeswoman at her office said. 

Adrian Estwick, director of agriculture, said baited traps have been placed in the area in an effort to capture the stray dogs. 

He said the Department of Agriculture responds similarly to all reports of dog attacks, no matter who the victim is or where the incident takes place. 

He said dealing with the broader issue of out-of-control dogs would involve “education, education, education” and outreach to pet owners to remind them of their responsibilities to keep their animals secured. 

Lesley Agostinelli of Cayman Animal Rescue Enthusiasts, which is launching a school-based education program on responsible pet ownership, said outreach needs to be combined with better enforcement. She acknowledged that the Agriculture Department is understaffed and believes a nongovernment organization, similar to the Society for the Protection of Animals, would be best placed to handle the issue. 

“If we want safer communities, we need to take a look at our animal control policies. I think the laws are adequate. I don’t think the enforcement is there, and I don’t think there is enough support for responsible pet ownership, particularly in under-served areas.” 

She said trapping or shooting dogs would only provide “Band-Aid” solutions in response to specific incidents. She warned that similar incidents would continue to occur unless action is taken to clamp down on puppy mills, to ensure dogs are licensed, spayed and neutered, and to prevent people from dumping unwanted pets. 

Gina Ebanks-Petrie, director of the Department of Environment, said feral animals are a growing menace for endangered species like the blue iguana. 

She said under a new policy, dogs found in the botanic park would be shot, following the recent attacks on the small population of blue iguanas. 

John Lawrus, who runs the park, said a qualified gunman is patrolling the site at different times in an effort to catch the dogs. 

In a letter sent to residents in the area this week, Ms. Ebanks-Petrie warned pet owners to keep their animals out of the park. 

She stated, “The Blue Iguana Recovery Program has worked through challenging circumstances to bring back the population from near extinction and at the rate that these animals are being killed, there will be no breeding animals remaining in the park in a few weeks.” 

Karen Ford, a warden with the Blue Iguana Recovery Program, said there are around 40 blue iguanas in the botanic park and an estimated 900 island-wide. She said wild dogs in the park are a significant threat to the stability of the population. 

Governor Kilpatrick

Governor Kilpatrick

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  1. Dog owners who allow their dogs to run free anywhere on the three Cayman Islands deserve the full extent of the law. My 16 year old Brac cat was killed by dogs. Only someone who has lost a pet (or a blue iguana) to marauding dogs can understand the loss and the anger at dog-owners who flout the law.

  2. Very sorry to hear about the attack on Governor Kilpatrick. But also annoying that it takes an attack on her before any action is taken to curb the wild dog menace. A menace that has been known about for years.

  3. Just look out on the bye-pass from the Butterfield roundabout heading North. There is a pack of what Americans would call – " junk yard dogs" which roam around on the verges, and look extremely dangerous/aggressive.

  4. Call the dogs what you like. The bottom line is what I’ve always said. Cayman dog owners do not take seriously, or don’t care to spay or neuter their dogs because of a male dominance thing. Rather, their animals bite or attack adults and children, than do whats best for the animal and community. So, Cayman must enforce existing laws, however weak they are, and enforce new laws that benefit everyone. These animals matter, and they weren’t born to be aggressive. Who made them that way. Ignorance,and neglect. Simple.

  5. Bait and trap the negectful owners, not the dogs. They are the victims of what we as human beings do to dogs. They are not ours to abuse, neglect or treat as non feeling individuals. Why have we come to a place where we don’t care about what can be wonderful pets.

  6. I completely understand the need to protect vulnerable children, pedestrians, pets and endangered wildlife from dogs. This article is somewhat contradictory, since a previous article claimed pet owners living near the park were the source of recent attacks. There is a big difference between shooting aggressive feral dogs, that cannot be rehabilitated, and a loving animal that is following its nature by chasing and killing iguanas.

    The act of shooting a domesticated dog does not prohibit owners from acquiring a replacement; it also fails to attach a penalty of fines or jail time for negligent pet owners. If we had a law requiring all animals be chipped and registered in a national database, this would propagate long term solutions and create jobs and revenue. Once the dog was identified via the database, legal remedies could be pursued. Right now, we are unable to sue, because rarely do these animals have collars and tags.

    A second broader issue is the fact that the Cayman Islands are allegedly gun free. There is a profound disconnect, if a government and society are accepting of shooting trespassing dogs, but refuse to allow the population to shoot trespassing rapists and burglars. Human and animal life should be of equal value.

    I also question the limitations of suffering any dog might experience, if the sniper wounds it, as opposed to making a successful kill shot. Is this individual indemnified if he mistakenly shoots an iguana or catches the dog’s owner in the crossfire? No matter how many hours you log at a shooting range, or awards you win, mistakes are possible.