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Stricter laws coming to control dangerous dogs


When 46-year-old Althea Cato of Cane End was viciously killed by dogs on Friday, June 6, eyebrows were raised, and people were reminded of the danger that can exist between the jaws of a dog.

While the circumstances surrounding the attack on Cato are still being investigated, her death prompted questions about legislation to address the matter of dangerous dogs.{{more}}

“There is no doubt that there needs to be strict rules,” said Veterinarian Dr Colin Boyle.

Boyle told SEARCHLIGHT that it is important that laws be put in place because some of the things he sees happening are deadly accidents waiting to happen.

“My concern is that I wonder if the people that are walking around with dogs without muzzles and so on, know that they are walking around with dangerous weapons,” Dr Boyle said.

He told SEARCHLIGHT that while some dogs are generally passive, others, like pit bulls are naturally more aggressive, hence the reason for strict guidelines.

He noted that regulations already exist here prohibiting the importation of pit bulls.

SEARCHLIGHT confirmed that this regulation does exist, in fact, acting Chief Veterinary Officer Dr Colleen Philips said that the ban exists on all dogs that have the word “bull” as part of their name, whether it be pit-bulls, bull-mastiffs or bull-terriers.

Dr Phillips said however, that while some dogs are being smuggled into the island, it is difficult to trace whether a dog was smuggled in or was bred here as the breeds already exist on the island.

Commenting on the whole issue of dangerous dogs, Dr Phillips said that all dogs, including the very small breeds can be conditioned into being dangerous.

“Dogs’ demeanors are determined by the way the owners bring them up,” she said.

She explained that a smaller dog, even a common breed can be aggressive. However, if one of them attacks someone, that dog may not have the power to maul or kill the person, whereas a bigger more powerful breed, like a pit-bull does.

“Because of this, people who walk around with them are walking around with dangerous weapons, they need to see that,’ Dr Philips said.

She said that this fact makes ownership and handling guidelines critical.

Meanwhile, Minister of Agriculture Montgomery Daniel told SEARCHLIGHT that he expects Cabinet to have a draft for discussion within a month.

He said that a draft had been prepared by the Attorney General’s office for consultation since 2006. He however explained that his Ministry gave priority to the praedial larceny act, which was recently passed.

Minister Daniel said that now, the dangerous dog legislation is back on the front burner and discussions are taking place involving the Attorney General’s office, the police, and his ministry, and the talks are progressing well.