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Muzzling George Town’s stray dog problem: how the DOA’s latest tactics measure up

Seven stray dogs have been rounded up from a pack that has been terrorising George Town communities and the Department of Agriculture said on Tuesday (22 January) that the animals will be euthanised.

This came as residents, plagued by the pack of stray animals, gathered for a community meeting on Tuesday night (22 January.)

That meeting was chaired by MLA Hon. Joey Hew and held at the Arts and Recreation Centre in Cayman International School.

The takeaway from the meeting was one of some relief for residents, after seven of the eight main dogs were successfully caught at the weekend.

Another dog from a different pack had also been rounded up.

This problem reached its peak last week and neighbouring Camana Bay took steps, closing its Britannia pathway to keep the public safe.

On Wednesday (23 January), Cayman 27 saw several people utilising the path, which had one fence knocked down.

The DOA said they were still processing if there are any other packs. They say collaboration: with the community, other departments and police has been the key to cracking a much criticised operation.

“Once we got the feedback from the community as to where the dogs were operating, just before the weekend, we started to get reports from our sister organisation, the DEH, that this pack had been seen often at the dump, the George Town landfill. That allowed us to target that area,” explained Assistant Director at the Department of Agriculture Brian Crichlow.

He said collaboration has helped the Ministry tackle the majority of stray dogs causing problems in communities off the Esterley Tibbetts Highway.

And partnership between public and DOA was evident throughout the meeting, with one resident producing a picture she said was taken on Monday:

“Looking at the picture, it looks like one was black and there were two sandy ones,” she said, before showing the image to the DOA, who confirmed this sighting was of dogs they are still actively hunting.

Mr. Crichlow said the dump had proved a more controlled hunting ground, with animal-lovers less likely to sabotage the traps and improving the bait had helped too.

“Going to something that was more odorous, more attractive to the dogs, not so pleasant for people to be around, but going to something like that also helped pull the animals in and increase the success rate,” Mr. Crichlow confirmed.

Adrian Estwick, the DOA Director acknowledged the criticism his Department has faced in dealing with the stray dogs, pointing out:

“It has been said that our traps were useless and they aren’t effective. The same traps were used… and those traps have been quite successful,” he said.

But both the public and the DOA flagged that the problem goes beyond just strays.

“It’s not only packs of stray dogs,” Mr. Crichlow pointed out.

“It’s persons with their own dogs, which have attacked other dogs. People may not be aware that it’s against the law to have their dog off the leash in a public place,” he added.

As a result, a public education campaign is being pushed going forward, with the distribution of a new leaflet promoting responsible dog ownership.

“Education is important,” Mr. Crichlow said, adding: “we will be working very closely with the RCIPS to do more public education, to distribute more brochures.”

Further education: the next step in preventing the problem from reoccurring.

The DOA has asked residents to stay alert to any more sightings. Members of the community suggested using WhatsApp to liaise with community beat officers and the DOA in case any more stray dogs are spotted.

About the author

Caroline James

Caroline James

Caroline joined Cayman 27 in September 2018 after seven years working for Sky News in London, both as a Producer on the World News programme and, latterly, as News Editor on the Foreign Desk, where she led coverage on the ground of stories as diverse as the 2016 US Election, corruption allegations surrounding FIFA and The Oscars. Before this, she worked as a Producer for Associated Press Television News (APTN) for two years, based in their London headquarters. Caroline graduated with a BA Hons degree in Arabic, French and German from Durham University, before gaining an MA in Television Journalism with distinction at City University, London. When not hunting down stories in Cayman, she can be found playing tennis, practicing Bikram yoga or enjoying a beer on Seven Mile Beach. You can reach Caroline at carolinejames@hurleysmedia.ky or 326-2243.

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