The Cayman Islands Humane Society animal shelter is once again facing capacity challenges after people started surrendering and, in some cases, abandoning their pets in the wake of Cayman’s COVID-19 crisis.
Humane Society director Saskia Salden has said the animal shelter is “back to square one” and has reached its tipping point. Ironically, it was on International Dog Day that the shelter shared the news of its capacity woes on social media.
“We have to say no to some people [who] want to turn in [or] surrender their animals and that is the last thing we want because we then don’t know what’s going to happen to these animals. But there’s just nothing we can do about it. We just don’t have space,” Salden told the Cayman Compass on Wednesday.
Currently, the Humane Society has 55 dogs and 20 cats at the shelter, and 60 dogs and 65 cats in foster homes.
Salden said the COVID-19 lockdown turned out to be “blessing” for the shelter as residents who had to spend so much time in their homes volunteered to foster animals.
After that, she said, there were many foster “failures”, with foster parents deciding to keep their animals, but conversely others found they were unable to offer permanent homes.
“People that were fostering dogs during COVID are now returning to work and so [they are] no longer able to foster,” she said, adding that there are also foster parents who moved from pet-friendly homes to rental properties that did now allow animals.
People leaving the island because of job losses have also compounded the situation, Salden said, since they did not know where they were going to live or if they would have the ability to offer a home to their pets once they got there.
“Therefore, they were unable to take… their pets and had to surrender them or give them to friends who then, of course, were not able to keep them. So, [the animals] ended up in the shelter as well,” she said.
Salden said the Humane Society has made an open call to the community to help care for the animals through fostering.
“We need foster parents and we would like to have them foster maybe for two or three weeks. The more we also know about these animals, the better it is for us to promote them,” she said, as it’s easier to assess whether a dog is friendly or good with other animals or kids if the dog is in a home for a period rather than sitting in the shelter.
“So it is very important that we have foster parents that can tell us more about these animals that we can then use to have them adopted,” she said.
Salden noted there is also a growing problem of puppies and kittens being found abandoned.
“I think, during COVID, people were not really out and about as much, and these animals went undetected, but now people are out again, they’re finding all these litters. We also really want to stress to the public please, please, spay and neuter your animals. There is no need for a female to have multiple litters,” she said.
Since the shelter put out the call for help, Salden said, there has been some positive feedback, but nothing really concrete.
“They’re all very nice dogs and they just need love. That’s all they need,” she said, making her pitch for fostering and adoption.