A pack of stray dogs has been menacing communities along the Esterley Tibbetts Highway, leaving people injured and pets dead.
On Thursday (17 January), residents appealed for more immediate intervention, as they believe the traps set up to deal with the dogs are not enough to handle the scale of the problem.
George Town North MLA Hon. Joey Hew told Cayman 27 the Department of Agriculture and police have been working to address the problem and as late as Wednesday (16 January) night, seven traps were set up within a one-mile radius.
But both Mr. Hew and the Ministry itself have acknowledged that there were issues with that response in this particular instance and residents have told Cayman 27 they consider the traps a “woefully inadequate” solution.
“I look outside now and in my mind’s eye all I see is these vicious dogs and then obviously I’m triggered into seeing this beautiful little boy’s body. It’s not ok,” Elle Chalfen said.
Her cat, Ninja, was more than just a pet. He was family.
“I found Ninja’s body. He was dead,” she revealed, through tears, “he was a very lovely cat.”
Ninja was mauled to death this week by a pack of dogs, which Ms. Chalfen said have been threatening the Britannia community since early December.
She summed up his passing as causing “just a terrible shadow in my personal life as a consequence of his loss.”
Many of the residents in her community – and others nearby – have a similar story to tell, including Juliette Narandja.
She was cornered by the pack of strays when walking with her friend and their dogs.
“I’m just horrified. I’m now frightened to walk of an afternoon and an evening. Even in the mornings, I’m concerned,” she explained.
Hon. Joey Hew is the MLA for the affected constituency but, for him, the issue has hit close to home.
“We lost our family pet of seven years, our cat, in the middle of the afternoon, at 3:30 in the afternoon, by a pack of dogs,” Mr. Hew revealed.
Amid a social media outcry, Mr. Hew has been working with police and the DOA to address the threat.
He detailed some of the weaknesses with the present trap solution:
“Unfortunately some of these dogs are street-wise, they can smell the distress from other animals that have been in the traps and even more unfortunate: we have had issues where animal lovers have gone and disrupted the traps, either closed them or turned them over,” Mr. Hew disclosed.
Ms. Chalfen and Mrs. Narandja agreed that more needs to be done.
“The dogs are huge. I think they’re too savvy, I don’t think they’ll clamber into that thing [the trap] at all. It’ll be interesting to see if we do get a catch, but I very much doubt it,” Mrs. Narandja explained.
“It’s not going to do anything, I know it’s going to do anything!” Ms. Chalfen exclaimed.
She added, as a passionate animal lover, she “would never be an advocate for the first course of action being to put a healthy-seeming animal down, but there’s no way there’s another option. None.”
“A trap like this is a joke, an absolute joke,” she declared.
Stray dogs were also spotted at Camana Bay. Dart has responded by closing the footpath between Britannia and Camana Bay, given the threat to those two locations and Snug Harbour.
In a statement, they said a security guard had also been stationed at the Bismarckia entrance.
For the full details, see below.
The DOA said they had responded to concerns about the dogs by setting the traps, as per the provisions set by the Animals Law.
They admitted, “to date the traps have not proven particularly effective with these particular animals.”
In terms of Section 70 (8) of the Law, which allows the use of “prescribed poison to destroy any animal on any public or private land,” the DOA said this action was not available to them, pending active legal challenges against the Department in relation to feral cat cases in Little Cayman.
They also said they could not quantify exactly how many traps have been placed, “as the situation is fluid.”
In answer to Cayman 27’s questions about the inefficiency of the existing solution, the DOA said their next step would be to vary the types of bait used in the traps.
Hon. Mr. Hew has organised a meeting with police and DOA for 6 p.m. on Tuesday (22 January) at The Arc in Camana Bay Cayman International School.
All communities along the Esterley Tibbetts Highway and Canal Pointe are invited to attend.
Following reported sightings of aggressive, feral dogs roaming the areas surrounding Snug Harbour, Britannia and Camana Bay, Dart has notified and requested the assistance of the Department of Agriculture and the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service to locate and remove the dogs. As a public safety measure Dart has temporarily closed the footpath between Camana Bay and Britannia and has positioned a security guard at the Bismarckia entrance to direct and advise pedestrian traffic. Our primary concern is the safety of our staff, tenants and the public, who we have advised to be vigilant, aware of the circumstances and local environment.