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Dog wardens to get wider powers, says Roban

In one instance, a pitbull like this one got loose and attacked an eight-year-old boy (File photograph)

Bermuda does not have a dog problem, it has a human problem, Walter Roban, the home affairs minister, has said.

Mr Roban was speaking in the wake of a spate of attacks by dangerous dogs on the island.

The minister told MPs that a boost to the powers of dog wardens should be brought in by July, but that it was a community issue.

Pressed on what the Government was doing about the levels of dog attacks, Mr Roban told MPs: “This is not a dog problem, it’s a community problem.

‘And it’s more a problem of the behaviour of human beings and their mishandling of animals. Dogs are who we train them to be.

“This is a community problem. It is a problem of human responsibility, primarily.

“But we also may have to make some tough decisions about how we handle animals that may, unfortunately due to factors ... are not able to be in the presence of human society.”

He added: “I stand here as a dog lover, not as someone who even seeks to contemplate euthanasia, or other methods at all.

“I want to find solutions that can bring down the fear of the community.”

Mr Roban, speaking during the Budget debate on the home affairs ministry, said that the Government was finalising the process of giving greater powers to dog wardens.

He added: “It has taken some time, admittedly.

“But it is going to be done, and it should be done within this legislative year.”

The minister said he was reconvening an ad-hoc parliamentary committee to get feedback on wider dog-related issues.

Asked what the Government was doing about feral chickens, Mr Roban acknowledged that the birds were a serious problem for farmers.

He said: “Everybody knows the problems that feral chickens and birds bring to the environment.

“They are a serious challenge for our agricultural industry. We have tried our best to have a balanced approach to this.

“Yes, there is a culling which is done, and often people hear the shooting. That is a necessary activity, as unpleasant as it may seem.

“We try our best not to use methods that are imposing any poisons into the environment because if you put down some sort of poison for chickens or rats that can potentially find itself with a dog, or in some way that is unanticipated.”

Scott Pearman, One Bermuda Alliance shadow home affairs minister, said the Government had failed to live up to its promises to deal with dog attacks.

He told The Royal Gazette: “When we experienced a series of serious dog attacks last summer, minister Roban assured the public that the Burt administration would introduce greater powers for dog wardens.

“That still has not happened.

“When the OBA pressed the minister in Parliament on Friday, he promised the legislation would be forthcoming soon.

“It has taken many months and we still don’t have a solution — even when the Government would likely have the OBA’s support for these changes.

“The PLP needs to deliver.”

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Published March 13, 2023 at 8:01 am (Updated March 13, 2023 at 8:01 am)

Dog wardens to get wider powers, says Roban

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