Many people travel to Caye Caulker and fall in love with our charming dogs. The Caye Caulker Humane Society has been around since 2009 with a goal of keeping the island dogs healthy and happy. There is a general drop-in clinic every Saturday morning and surgery-by-appointment one day most weeks. The CCHS tries to keep up with street dogs as well as pets to make sure they stay healthy, immunized and flea and tick free. It’s no wonder people regularly fall in love with the dogs here!
Although it may seem like there are many street dogs on Caye Caulker, most of the dogs you see roaming down the road, lounging on the beach or swimming in the sea do have owners. If you meet a dog you feel a connection to, ask around to try to find out whose dog it is. Most independent dogs on the Caye don’t need rescuing.
As in most places, there are unwanted litters of puppies on Caye Caulker and adopting a young dog may be easier than moving an older dog. Small dogs that can fit under the seat of an airplane are the easiest and least expensive dogs to transport. Also, they will have less trouble adapting to non-island life such as the danger of cars and possibly colder temperatures. Although puppies under 16 weeks cannot receive the rabies vaccine and are therefore prohibited from entering most countries (and the rabies vaccine must be given one month in advance to be effective), 5-month-old pups can be much easier transport than fully-grown dogs.
These are the steps to adopting a dog on Caye Caulker:
1. Check Facebook Group such as Caye Caulker Humane Society or Caye Caulker Info to see if anyone is looking for a home for a dog. You can also check with the Humane Society to see if there are any homeless dogs in need of homes. We usually have one or two that we know would make great pets and for whom we are actively looking for homes.
2. If you connect with a dog that you think might be homeless, ask around to find out if the animal is indeed homeless. Ask as many people as possible in the area you met the dog and then come to the Humane Society clinic on Saturday morning to see if any of the volunteers there know the dog. Try not to do it the last morning of your trip. It can take awhile to determine if a dog has an owner and you don’t want to be guilty of dog napping. Taking photos helps too. Many Caye dogs look alike and if you ask about “the medium-sized brown dog that hangs out at the split” no one will probably be able to help you.
3. Talk to your airline! Before you begin the process of adopting a dog from Caye Caulker, check with your airline. Rules change all the time in the airline industry, and recently several airlines have changed the rules, so dogs need to go freight, rather than as luggage unless the dog and its carrier fit under the seat. This can mean added hassle and expense. Some airlines also have a restriction on breeds and characteristics (e.g. pit bulls or short-nosed dogs). Some airlines won't transport pets at all. There will be a fee for transporting the dog plus possible additional fees for a broker to clear the dog through customs.
4. Check the rules in your home country. Different countries have different rules for importing pets. The Caye Caulker Humane Society can issue International Health Certificates, but some countries require ID chipping which we are not able to provide on the Caye (though a vet clinic in Belize City can do it). Most countries require that puppies be old enough to have the rabies vaccine (16 weeks) before they can enter. They also require that the rabies vaccine is administered one month before entering the country, which means a dog must be 20 weeks old before it can travel.
5. So you’ve fallen in love with a dog, determined it’s truly homeless and want to bring it back with you. Bring the dog to a Saturday morning clinic at the Humane Society so it can be examined and determined to be healthy enough to travel. If the dog is fit to travel, a travel certificate can be issued for BZ $25.
6. You will also need a carrier or a crate. The Humane Society can put you in touch with a shop outside Belize City, which will sell you a crate and send it over on the water taxi. Small under-the-seat carriers can be trickier to find and may require a day trip to San Pedro or Belize City to procure.
7. You will need to make a reservation for the dog with your airline whether it is flying with you in the cabin or as cargo underneath the plane.
Adopting a dog and bringing it home from another country is not for everyone but there have been some great matches made between tourists and Caye Caulker dogs. Always consider, though, that there are dogs in need of homes everywhere and it may be easier and less expensive to adopt in your own community.
Today's post was written by our good friend Noelle Gray who has been with the CCHS for almost five years. Want to learn more about Noel or dogs on Caye Caulker? Check out her blog at https://dogsofcayecaulker.wordpress.com/