The flood-prone and often overcrowded Cayman Islands Humane Society will be moving to a new purpose-built shelter in Camana Bay.

Dart is giving the animal charity the facility on a 99-year peppercorn lease, according to a press release. The new shelter is expected to be operational by 2022.

An aerial image of the site where the new home for the Humane Society will be located. – Photo supplied by Dart Enterprises

The Humane Society has been in its existing building on North Sound Road for 22 years. The site was again inundated with rainwater earlier this week, when the charity called on members of the public to foster its animals as the floodwaters rose.

Humane Society Board Director Lesley Walker said in a statement that the new facility is desperately needed.

“The Humane Society’s mission is to provide shelter, care and attention to all unwanted companion animals, and seek out responsible and loving homes for them,” Walker said. “A purpose-built facility in a secure, central location will allow our team to continue to provide essential animal welfare and rescue services to the entire Cayman Islands community.”

The new shelter will be located at Camana Bay on almost two acres of land adjacent to the proposed new rugby grounds to the south of the Cayman Islands National Gallery.

Dart Executive Vice President with responsibility for community development Pilar Bush said the site was chosen because it is central to visitors, volunteers, and close to veterinary clinics in case of emergencies.

“Animal welfare is an important part of a healthy, thriving society and we are proud to support the Humane Society’s mission to assist the community in all aspects of animal rescue and responsible pet ownership,” she said.

In addition to the lease, Dart will bear the cost of clearing and filling the site in preparation for construction.

The cat room at the Humane Society was flooded on Tuesday amid a heavy downpour. – Photo: Vicki Wheaton

“This lease gives the Humane Society the chance for a new home so we can continue to help rescue animals find theirs,” Walker says.

The release stated that the new shelter will be designed by an international consultant specialising in veterinary and animal welfare project development, and will feature kennels, veterinary facilities and educational resources.

Taking into account nearby residential neighbourhoods, Walker said the design also incorporates design and landscaping elements intended to minimise disturbances.

“We are planning a stakeholder engagement meeting with the lead architect for the project so that our key community partners and other interested stakeholders can familiarise themselves with the design and get their questions answered ahead of the planning process,” she said.

Walker said construction of the new facility will be partially funded by money left in trust by local animal rights activist and Humane Society founding member Ardyth Smith before her death in 2016. In keeping with her last wishes, the new facility will be dedicated to her late husband Irvin Smith.

The Humane Society’s Jason Jairam walks through ankle-deep water as he carries a cat to a person who has volunteered to foster the animal. – Photo: Vicki Wheaton

“Ardyth’s generosity has enabled us to achieve our dream of a purpose-built facility much earlier than we could ever have anticipated,” Walker said. “She was a stalwart supporter of animal welfare in the community, and the new shelter will be a testament to her enduring legacy.”

Walker says volunteer and financial support remains critical to the day-to-day operations of the existing facility.

“We want to thank everyone who stepped up to foster dogs and cats after the most recent flooding, and to the companies and individuals who supported our clean-up efforts. This will not be the last time we experience issues with flooding before the new facility is built,” Walker says. “We will still need fosters, forever homes and dog walkers, and continued fundraising will still be essential for our ongoing operational costs.”

Support local journalism. Subscribe to the all-access pass for the Cayman Compass.

Subscribe now