Stray dogs terrorize neighborhoods

Pets killed, people attacked

Animal control officers are trying to trap a pack of stray dogs that has been terrorizing a Grand Cayman neighborhood.

Dozens of attacks have been reported in residential areas close to the landfill site, including Snug Harbour and the Britannia Estates.

Several residents have reported that their pets were killed or they themselves were attacked by the dogs.

The Department of Agriculture has trapped at least eight dogs in the past few weeks as it attempts to get to grips with the problem.

But several strays are still roaming the area, contributing to a climate of fear among residents.

Minister Joey Hew, whose own family cat was killed, called a meeting on the issue at the Arts and Recreation Center in Camana Bay Tuesday night. Adrian Estwick, director of the Department of Agriculture, and several senior police officers were also in attendance.

Mr. Hew told the Cayman Compass there had been an unprecedented number of attacks. He said several cats and small dogs had been killed, joggers had been chased and, in some cases, people had been injured.

He said one of the packs had been captured but a pack of three dogs blamed for a number of the attacks, many of which were recorded on home security cameras, was still loose.

“There is still a lot of fear,” he said.

“I won’t let my son walk his dog or go ride his bike on the dyke roads like he usually does while this one pack is still at large.”

The trapped animals will be euthanized by the Department of Agriculture. Mr. Hew acknowledged the strategy had prompted some backlash among animal rights groups.

But he said the animals were extremely aggressive and rehabilitating or rehoming them was not considered a viable option in the circumstances.

He said the attacks had caused significant distress to families living in the area.

Reasons for the surge in attacks is unclear. There has been speculation in the community that the impact of the iguana cull may have removed a food source for feral dogs.

Mr. Hew said it was difficult to determine what impact, if any, the cull had. He said there were still plenty of feral chickens in the area.

He believes such encounters may become more commonplace as Cayman’s building boom continues, reducing the buffers between residential neighborhoods and public land.

He said the longer-term solution was better education on responsible pet ownership, including spay and neuter programs, to avoid contributing to Cayman’s stray and feral dog populations.

He added that there were a number of additional attacks associated with dogs that were being allowed to roam unleashed in open spaces, including the old Britannia golf course.

He said it is illegal to keep dogs off leash in public places in Cayman, and owners who continued to do so would be liable to be prosecuted.