Dog amnesty ‘won’t solve’ problem OBA’s Cole Simons

Government’s six-month amnesty on illegally held dogs “alone will not solve Bermuda’s dog control challenges”, according to the Shadow Environment Minister.

Cole Simons, of the One Bermuda Alliance, said if in power his party would have taken a different approach by also introducing legislation and regulations which would “punish the deed and not the breed”.

“In my estimation, the time is ripe for the introduction of non-breed specific legislation which is fair to both the dog owners, and to those people who regard certain dogs as a threat to the community,” he said.

“Bermuda must also enhance its dog control laws by increasing the penalties for owning a dog which causes serious injury.

“In addition, we can seriously increase the penalties to a term of imprisonment, and -or an increased fine of around $20,000 for irresponsible and dangerous behaviour.”

In a press release yesterday, Mr Simons suggested that Environment Minister Walter Roban needed to work more closely with Bermuda’s All Breed Club and the Dog Training Club.

Mr Roban should also closely review and give serious consideration to recommendations found in the Government sanctioned 2001 Dog Committee Report (which recommends that Government should not ban specific breeds, but punish the owners and not the breed), Mr Simons said.

He outlined the 2001 Dog Committee Report and statistics given by the Journal of American Veterinary Medical Association that indicate over the past two decades at least 25 breeds of dogs have been involved in 238 fatalities in the US.

The highest rate of death, 58 percent, were by dogs that were unrestrained while on their owner’s property.

“These dogs were not restricted to pit bulls and the like. They included Dachshunds, Golden Retrievers, Yorkshire Terriers and Labrador Retrievers. So the principle of breed specific regulations is totally flawed and without merit,” said Mr Simons.

He encouraged Mr Roban to re examine Bermuda’s Dangerous Dog Control legislation and regulations.

He said: “Our laws could run parallel to the laws supported by the American Kennel Club which supports reasonable, enforceable, nondiscriminatory laws which govern the ownership of dogs.

“Our laws must establish a fair process by which dogs are identified as dangerous based on stated and measurable actions.

“Our laws should include clearly defined enforcement of generic, non- breed specific dangerous dog laws, with emphasis on chronically irresponsible owners. We must enhance and enforce our leash laws and provide further support to Bermuda’ neutering campaign.”

Mr Simons said there also needed to be school-based programmes, for both children and adults, teaching them pet selection strategies, pet care, responsibility and bite prevention.

Bermuda’s Dog Control initiatives must be fair to the dog, the dog owners and those that regard certain dogs as a threat, he said. “We must balance the health, safety, and welfare needs of our people and the animals of Bermuda.”

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Published Jul 18, 2011 at 8:48 am (Updated Jul 18, 2011 at 8:48 am)

Dog amnesty ‘won’t solve’ problem OBA’s Cole Simons

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