The Department of Agriculture (DOA) closed its doors on Monday (13 May) to members of the public wanting to view and get more information on the 53 dogs that were seized in Prospect last week. It has been described as the biggest dog confiscation on record. Those at the Cayman Islands Humane Society said dealing with all those dogs will be a challenge.
“We’re just horrified about the suffering these animals had to undergo.” Humane Society Director Lesley Walker responding to news that the DOA seized 53 dogs from a home in Prospect last Monday, (6 May) it is a seizure DOA’s assistant Director Brian Crichlow said was necessary, although it presents challenges. “In these situations, people don’t realize the financial implications that they are putting on the resources of the government, to be able to address and deal with these animals they are all unbudgeted expenses,” said Mr. Crichlow.
Ms. Walker said her team is willing to assist the DOA in re-homing the dogs but said the department has not reached out to the shelter for help as yet. “We really do not have the facility to hold them at this time, what we would have to do, would be to appeal to the public who is very good at these situations and usually to come forward to foster them,” said Ms. Walker.
The dogs were described as small breed dogs comprising purebred and mixes that included Shih Tzu, Yorkshire Terriers, Maltese, Dachshund and Pekingese. The DOA said the dogs were discovered under “unacceptable” conditions. The dogs were suffering from alopecia (hair loss) suggesting demodectic mange along with external parasites (ticks and fleas), and most presented with significant to serious dental issues and various ocular (eye) problems. All of the dogs were immediately assessed and triaged by a DOA veterinary officer, however, two of the most severe cases were sent urgently to a local veterinary clinic where a decision was taken to humanely euthanize one of the animals.
Ms. Walker believes the 53 dogs were being constantly bred as a way to make money. “Do not buy from people who are basically, running what we call a puppy mill. The animals are generally not very well looked after. They often have health problems because they’ve been inbred from the same breeding animals many times. We’ve seen them have horrible health problems like the case before us now. So please if you care for animals do not obtain puppies from people who are breeding them for sales and who will not let you see the mother and will not let you see the conditions the mother is being held in,” said Ms. Walker.
In the past, the DOA has euthanized animals at their discretion. Ms. Lesley said she hopes they won’t euthanize these dogs. “As most people know we are a no-kill shelter. We believe that animals should only be euthanized if they are very sick and suffering or if their behavior is so bad that it cannot be modified. We believe firmly in no-kill so we would be very disappointed if the animals were put to sleep by the DOA simply for reasons of space because the reality is the DOA has a very limited facility,” said Ms. Walker. However, Mr. Crichlow said euthanizing the animals is determined by their health conditions. “As I said the ultimate decision would lie on what the veterinarian recommends is best for the animals,” said Mr. Crichlow. The DOA currently has 12 dog cages. According to Mr. Crichlow, 6 DOA employees are currently acting as caretakers for the 53 dogs seized.
RCIPS Deputy Commissioner Kurt Walton said, “The DOA is an important partner and we will continue to work closely to address such animal welfare and cruelty cases and take necessary enforcement action.” The investigation continues. A 54-year-old woman linked to the dogs has been warned of prosecution in relation to the dogs.