Euthanasia of dogs and cats in Grand Cayman has been reduced by 75% over the last four years according to figures analysed by the Cayman Compass as part of an open records request.
The Department of Agriculture euthanised 544 dogs and 75 cats between the years of 2015 and 2018. That total (619) is fewer than the number of animals euthanised in 2012 alone (634).
A 2014 open records request by the Cayman Compass indicated that the DoA was euthanising around 600 cats and dogs per year. That study accounted for the years 2010 through 2013.
Dogs are still being impounded at high rates in Cayman. The DoA impounded 331 dogs in 2015, 249 in 2016, 304 in 2017 and 388 last year. But they are being euthanised at a far lower rate.
The data indicates that the DoA euthanised 175 dogs in 2015, 96 in 2016, 108 in 2017 and 165 last year.
Over that span, about 43 percent of dogs impounded have been euthanised. In 2013, by contrast, 594 animals were impounded by the DoA, and only 111 of them were reclaimed or rehomed.
Part of the disparity is due to revised policing priorities adopted by the DoA. Before 2014, stray and feral cats represented close to half of the total number of animals euthanised. The DoA stopped trapping stray cats a few years ago, though, and has euthanised just 75 cats since 2015.
In fact, the DoA euthanised no cats in 2018 and just 12 since the beginning of 2017.
Another factor is the presence of charities like One Dog At A Time, which have worked with the DoA to rescue unwanted animals over the last few years. One Dog At A Time saved 130 dogs from impounding over the last three years and sent them to new homes in the United States and Canada.
“We work really well with them,” said Caroline Johnston, the vice president of One Dog At A Time. “[Animal welfare officer] Erik Bodden will call us up if there are dogs that he needs removed. If there are puppies that have been surrendered, he’ll give us a call. We go down there probably three or four times a week and we put our names down on any dogs we want. And he’ll keep them for us. Some of them, we’ve put our names down and can’t find a foster home and they’ll keep them for us for weeks.”
One Dog At a Time shipped 130 dogs to New York in 2018 and 118 in 2017, but a changed policy in New York law could endanger that trend in the future. Johnston said that dogs cannot be sent to New York if they are younger than six months and they cannot be sent if they have heartworm or other maladies.
All dogs rehomed by One Dog At A Time are fully vaccinated and neutered. Johnston said the charity spent about $40,000 in veterinarian costs and in transportation for dogs to new homes in 2018. That does not include food or equipment, much of which is donated.
“It’s an expensive business but it’s so worthwhile,” Johnston said. “Most of the dogs at the DoA are absolutely fantastic. There are some that cannot be rehomed because they’re really, really aggressive. But there’s a mom and four pups down there at the moment, and I said to Erik, ‘Let me know. If they’re not claimed or the owners don’t come back for them, we will take them.’
“It’s heartbreaking to see the amazing dogs we rescue from the pound. We know they’re fantastic dogs and they’re so grateful for being rescued. They’re so loving.”