When Cayman’s shelter-in-place provisions and curfew restrictions kicked into gear, the Humane Society and One Dog at a Time were faced with challenges caring for and exercising the animals under their charge.
“We have closed the shelter to the general public as we did not want to expose our staff to any viruses because if we don’t have staff, we have nobody to look after the animals. We will not allow any volunteers to go to the shelter, so dog-walking is out of the question,” Saskia Salden, the director of the Humane Society, said in a recent Zoom interview with the Cayman Compass.
For Caroline Johnson at One Dog at a Time, the struggle quickly became real for her and her team as the restrictions severely curtail their ability to get donations due to COVID-19 rules.
“It has massively impacted what we do because we’re a charity, we rely greatly on fundraising through our One Dog at a Time shop and through the events that we do normally two or three times every single month, just to keep up with the expenditure or vets’ bills or food and supplies, and things like that, which could roughly go to around $4,000 a month,” she said.
Canine caregivers come forward
However, animal lovers around the island have stepped up to help the local charities with not just their financial burdens but ensuring the well-being of the animals.
“The Humane Society is still very, very busy. We’ve had so many people contact us to foster dogs and cats, so that has been very successful and we’ve been very, very appreciative of that. So, the shelter is quite empty,” Salden said.
A total of 70 dogs and as many as 50 cats from the shelter are in foster homes.
Johnson said the 14 dogs under her team’s care have all been fostered as well. She said they had a delivery of 10 puppies just before the COVID-19 restrictions were put in place, and they all went to foster homes.
Most of those pups either have been adopted, or are in the process of being adopted, locally. One Dog at a Time usually sends animals overseas for adoption, but with no flights going to the US right now, all their dogs remain on island.
“For our current fosters at the moment, normally when they run out of food, for example, or puppy pads or things like that, we would go around and we would drop off all of the supplies that they need. They have been fantastic, and if they do run short, they’ve actually been purchasing the products from Foster’s and Kirk’s and Cost-U-Less for us, which is a really big bonus,” Johnson said.
Both charities say they are hoping that all the animals now being fostered have found their forever homes, and already the signs are looking positive.
“I know a lot of people have fallen in love with them,” Salden said, adding that she hoped that means when the normally overcrowded shelter reopens, there will be lots of room to spare.
Riggs finds his home
“My husband and I knew that he was here for a trial, but within about one day, we knew that it was probably going to be longer than a trial,” said first-time foster ‘parent’ Blair Ebanks as she recounted her family’s decision to keep their foster dog Riggs.
Ebanks is one of several foster parents who have decided to keep the pets they have been caring for.
She said when her family saw Riggs, a mixed German shepard and bull mastiff, they knew it was love at first sight.
“Actually, now our family feels just like, I don’t want to say it was incomplete before, but it feels more complete now that we have a dog. It’s helping my kids with responsibility during this time. You know they’re not with their friends or anything, so now they have a new friend that they love and that loves them back,” Ebanks said.
She urged other foster families to keep their animals and those who have not fostered to give a home to a shelter animal.
“It’s kind of like before you become a parent,” she said. “You never think you’re ready until you have the dog. We feel like it was the perfect time for us to try it out and we’re very grateful … All you could do is try it out and you’ll know right away if you should have one or not.”
Humane Society animals under foster
Up to 50 cats
One Dog at a Time dogs under foster
153 North Sound Road, George Town, Grand Cayman (next to A.L. Thompson’s)
One Dog at a Time
[email protected], 917-3370 or visit Facebook @onedogatatime13