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Dog experts estimate there could be 2,000 illegal pitbulls

A pitbull terrier

There could be as many as 2,000 illegal pitbulls on the island, according to a team of dog experts.

Also, the Government is to upgrade the monitoring of dog attacks and crack down on illegal breeds.

This will include requiring all incidents of dogs causing injury to be reported.

Walter Roban, the Minister of Home Affairs, spoke out after meeting representatives from the SPCA, the Bermuda Kennel Club and other experts.

Mr Roban said: "I am committed to addressing the growing number of canine-related incidents, especially those involving pitbull breeds.“

He added: "Meanwhile, as we work towards addressing these issues to better monitor and identify offending dogs, full implementation of the Dogs Act 2008 will occur in this first calendar quarter. It will mandate that all incidents of dogs causing injury be reported.

“Several professions will be legally required to report these incidents, particularly those in the medical and veterinary fields.

“To facilitate reporting, the Government will release a convenient, easy-to-use digital reporting system accessible by computer, tablet or smartphone. Furthermore, ticketing for minor offences under the Dogs Act 2008 will also begin."

Measures being considered include a microchip tracking programme, the creation of a new canine breeding club and holding an amnesty — followed by increased fines for noncompliance.

A government spokeswoman added: “A concern that was noted is a growing sense of anxiety and fear of dogs in the community, mainly towards some breeds, such as pitbulls, which is unfortunate, as the overwhelming majority of human and dog interactions are positive.

“However, irresponsible owners treat these dogs as commodities, making them almost disposable. Another important topic was the need to address the issues around breeding and ownership of canines.

“The stakeholder groups at the meeting estimated that there could be as many as 2,000 illegal pitbulls in Bermuda.”

Mr Roban added: "I encourage all dog owners to be responsible and keep their dogs and our community safe. I also thank all those who attended the meeting. I applaud their passion for not only protecting the general public but the animals as well."

The meeting came after Mr Roban promised tough action last month after four dog attacks in a few days.

Last year, the Government said that there were 203 reports of dog attacks in the previous five years, with the vast majority of offences committed by pitbull terriers. There were a further 103 reports of chases and threatening behaviour by dogs.

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Published February 22, 2023 at 7:59 am (Updated February 22, 2023 at 8:16 am)

Dog experts estimate there could be 2,000 illegal pitbulls

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