EDITORIAL – Working together to promote animal welfare

Thanks in no small part to a fruitful public-private partnership, euthanasia of feral and unwanted dogs and cats has dramatically declined in recent years.

As the Compass reported on Tuesday, records show the Department of Agriculture euthanised 544 dogs and 75 cats between the years of 2015 and 2018 – fewer than the number of animals that were euthanised in 2012, alone.

Although part of that decline is due to a policy change (the DoA no longer traps stray cats, as it had previously), the number of dog euthanisations as a proportion of dogs impounded has also dropped significantly.

Instead, more dogs are being turned over to non-profit animal rescue organisations such as One Dog At A Time, which finds suitable homes for the dogs in the United States and Canada. We think the arrangement is a win-win for both animal advocates and proponents of fiscally responsible government.

While many would argue that euthanising stray animals should be a last resort, the cost to care for and place each dog seized could quickly become prohibitive for government. (A One Dog At A Time representative told the Compass the organisation spent about $40,000 in veterinary bills and transportation costs to relocate the dogs just last year.)

Ideally, there would be fewer loose and stray dogs on our island in the first place. At the end of the day, as we have written, it is dog owners who are legally and ethically obligated to spay or neuter their pets, and to ensure they are properly cared for and restrained.

Last year, DoA impounded 388 dogs, according to records reviewed by the Compass. That is more than a dog per day – far too many for our little island.


Turtle nesting season begins

Already this month, the Department of Environment has recorded a turtle nest along Grand Cayman’s south coast. Over the coming weeks, many more will be established.

As we head into nesting season, we all can play a part in protecting our beloved sea turtles: being mindful of nests and, once the hatchlings emerge, not interfering with young turtles’ trek to sea.

The DoE asks beachgoers to protect against crushing nests by avoiding driving on the beach, and contacting them before using beach cleaning machines or other heavy equipment in areas where nests may be located. Please remove beach chairs and other obstacles from the beach at night. When having a bonfire, only use a designated barbecue pit.

Property owners should protect beach vegetation and turn off, redirect, or shield any lights visible from the beach, which may deter nesting females and disorient baby turtles. Avoid getting too close or otherwise disturbing nesting turtles.

If you see turtle tracks, nests or baby turtles, call the turtle hotline at 938-NEST. If you see anyone harming or interfering with sea turtles or their eggs, call DoE enforcement at 916-4271 or dial 911 to report the crime.

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