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Dog seizures on the rise

Government has significantly stepped up its seizures of illegal dogs in the past year, according to figures released by the Department of Environmental Protection.

Animal wardens seized 136 dogs in 2013, compared to just 69 in 2012. And already this year there have been 38 seizures, with 37 of the animals destroyed and one shipped overseas.

The Department provided figures on the numbers and types of dogs captured at the request of The Royal Gazette, showing that prohibited pit bulls are the breed most likely to be seized.

Further questions about why the number of seizures almost doubled from 2012 to 2013 were not answered by press time.

Of the dogs captured in the first two months of this year, 37 were pit bull types and one was an American bulldog. The bulldog was destroyed, as were 36 of the pit bulls. As reported by this newspaper, suspected pit bull puppy Isis was allowed to be sent overseas by her owners.

There were 117 pit bull and pit bull crosses seized last year, with 108 of them found to be illegal and put down. Nine turned out to be legal dogs and were returned to their owners.

The previous year, there were 55 of the breed seized, with 47 found to be illegal and destroyed and eight found to be legal and returned to their owners.

Official records show that pit bulls are the second most popular dogs on the Island, with 755 registered as pets. There are thought to be at least twice as many unlicensed pit bulls.

Several high profile cases recently have seen illegal suspected pit bulls seized by wardens and in January a pit bull was put down at its owner's request after it fatally savaged a Yorkshire terrier in St David's.

The pit bull breed is banned in Bermuda, along with American bulldogs, American Staffordshire terriers, Argentine mastiffs, Boerboels, Brazillian mastiffs, Cane Corsos, Presa Canarios, Neapolitan mastiffs, Tosa Inus and wolf/wolf hybrids.

But past amnesties have allowed owners to get their dogs made “legal” — and, in December, Government was presented with a petition carrying more than 2,000 signatures calling for a fresh amnesty.

The Island's Canine Advisory Committee, meanwhile, has recommended that most breeds be taken off the banned list and placed on a managed restricted list but Health and Environment Minister Trevor Moniz indicated last week he had no plans to do that.

The latest statistics on seizures from the Department of Environmental Protection don't include stray unclaimed dogs.

They show that in 2013, there was one American bulldog seized, four Cavalier King Charles spaniel mixes, six Jack Russells and eight Pomeranians.

The previous year, there was one American bulldog captured, along with four shih-tzus, four Yorkshire terriers and five Fila de Sao Miguels.

The reasons for seizure included not being licensed, illegal breeding, straying and — in the case of the Fila de Sao Miguels — a cruelty investigation, the latter resulting in the dogs being returned to their owners.

The Department of Environmental Protection released figures in December showing that pit bulls were responsible for 141 of the 259 “important complaints” made about dogs in 2012 and 2013.

Of those 141 complaints, 37 involved a pit bull biting or injuring another animal, 20 involved biting or injuring a person and 26 involved chasing or threatening behaviour. There were 27 complaints about improper care of pit bulls and four about cruelty involving dog fighting.

The petition calling for an amnesty on illegal dogs can be found online at change.org, along with a separate petition seeking to get rid of breed-specific legislation in Bermuda.

Crackdown: Government has stepped up its seizure of illegal dogs
<p>Bermuda’s most popular dogs</p>

1) Yorkshire terrier = 790

2) Pit bull (prohibited breed) = 755

3) Labrador retriever = 619

4) German shepherd (restricted breed) = 416

5) Mongrel = 302

6) Fox terrier = 288

7) Miniature pinscher = 284

8) Jack Russell terrier = 273

9) Terrier type = 263

10) Cavalier King Charles Spaniel = 247

Bermuda’s least popular dog breeds

The Island has just one each of the following breeds: Affenpinscher, Afghan, Alaskan Malamute, American pit bull terrier (prohibited), Anatolian Shepherd, Barbet French water dog, Belgian Shepherd, Bichon Noir, Black Mouth Cur, Boerboel (prohibited), Chinese crested, Dandie Dinmont, Glen of Imaal, Havana Silk dog, hound, Japanese Shiba Inu, Lancashire Heeler, Loewchen, miniature American Eskimo, Munsterlander, Norwich terrier, Old English Bulldog, Otter hound, Pharaoh hound, Russian toy terrier, Saint Bernard, Schipperke, Swedish Vallhund, Tree Walker Hound, Welsh terrier and wire haired terrier.

* Figures show the number of dogs registered with the Department of Environmental Protection.

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Published March 04, 2014 at 8:00 am (Updated March 04, 2014 at 9:19 am)

Dog seizures on the rise

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