Puppies, small dogs and kittens are usually the first to get snapped up at the Cayman Islands Humane Society by animal lovers, but there are also plenty of older dogs and long-term residents of the shelter that desperately need homes.
“We have about 16 dogs that have been here for a year or more for absolutely no particular reason other than that they are just a bit unlucky – in the wrong place at the wrong time sometimes,” said Lesley Walker, Humane Society director.
The longest term resident at the shelter is Ziggy, who has been there two years, since he was a puppy. “Unfortunately, Ziggy was not as lucky as his brothers and sisters and sadly as dogs become older, it becomes progressively more difficult to find them a good home. Ziggy has been out in foster care and for sleepovers, but he just hasn’t found his forever home yet,” Ms Walker said.
Another long-term resident is Bruno Mars, who also came to the shelter as a puppy, a year ago. “Bruno is the friendliest dog you could imagine. Last week, he and his kennel mate – another great boy called Jimbo – came second with their handlers Denise and Teresa in the Fidelity Fun Run event,” Ms Walker said.
She added: “Bruno is a big dog and would not be happy in a tiny studio apartment, but give him some kids to play with and a yard and he will be ecstatic.”
Keeping dogs in a shelter for long periods of time may be seen cruel or unfair to some, but Ms Walker explained that the humane society “tries desperately never to euthanise a healthy, friendly dog who can go into a home and be a companion for someone”.
The Humane Society is inviting potential pet owners to come see the long-term residents of the shelter for themselves at the Heliconia Room in Market Street in Camana Bay between 10am and 5pm tomorrow (Saturday, 29 September) in the hopes that the pooches will find new owners to love and care for them.
“People usually come in and head straight for the puppies and my heart breaks for the older guys because they are all fantastic dogs and there is a great home out there for them somewhere. There is no doubt that puppies are very cute, but they are also a lot of work.
“Puppies love to chew – be prepared to lose some cherished shoes, cardigans, T-shirts – anything that you leave within their reach, in fact. They can be very excitable for young children; they are just babies themselves after all. You will probably have to crate them when you leave the house until they get older and they cannot be left for long periods,” Ms Walker said.
She also countered some misconceptions about adult dogs at the shelter, that some people think cannot be trusted with kids or that they’re been abused or are difficult to house train.
“All wrong! Most of our adult dogs have just been ignored, not badly treated. They tend to come in between the ages of 10 months and two years when they have lost their puppy charm and the kids are not interested in them any more. If they wander off, no one bothers to check whether they have been found and are at the Department of Agriculture or the Cayman Islands Humane Society,” Ms Walker said.
“The roadshows at Camana Bay are great opportunities for us on so many levels. The dogs get out of the shelter, get to meet some new people and new situations and they love this. People come up to us and talk about volunteer opportunities. We advise on any problems that dog and cat owners encounter. We talk to everyone about spaying and neutering, heartworm, walking your dog regularly and not keeping it tied or chained up,” Ms Walker said.
Saturday’s adoption fair is being held to kick off a campaign to find the long-term residents homes. During the campaign, which will run over the next few months, the dogs can be adopted for $45 – half the usual price. That includes all the vaccinations the animals need, spaying and neutering, the first batch of Heart Guard to combat heartworm, if necessary, a wellness check from the Cayman Animal Hospital and 10 per cent discount from Animal House. Anyone who adopts one of the longer-term dogs will also get a free dog collar, a bowl and other doggie items.
Making it easy
The Humane Society is making it as easy as possible for potential owners to meet their new pets. “We are always looking for new ways in getting our dogs into homes. For example, if people don’t want to visit the shelter, we are happy to select some dogs for them to meet elsewhere. People can take the animals on a sleepover for up to one week or to the beach for the day,” Ms Walker said.
While puppies may be cuter, adult dogs are easy to house train and don’t want to mess their homes, she pointed out. The humane society will help owners with any dogs that prove difficult to house train.
All the adoptions, foster and sleepovers are subject to the approval of a home check by trained Humane Society volunteers, who talk to the potential owners about the responsibilities of pet ownership, the best place to keep a pet, the food and treatments needed to keep the animal healthy.
The shelter is also in need of more volunteers to exercise and play with the dogs and cats, especially the long termers.
“There is nothing more rewarding than adopting an adult dog – they are your devoted companions for the rest of your life. They know that you have given them a new chance. We get wonderful feedback from those who take our adults about how well they fit into the family,” Ms Walker said.
Aileen Samuels, who helped to organise the shows, thanked the people and organisations who had helped make the roadshows at Camana Bay a success.
“To the property management at Cayman Shores Development Ltd. for the venue, Flower Power for the plants, Cayman Free Press for the exposure, Radio Cayman Talk Today for getting the word out there, the kind hearted and committed volunteers, and last, but not least, our shelter staff who go above and beyond to shampoo our hairy friends to make them feel good and look good on the day, a big thank you,” she said.