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Pitbulls top restricted-breed permit requests

Pittie power: Toni Smith gives her pitbull, Precious, a kiss during the Meet the Breeds Awareness Form (File photograph)

Pitbulls and cross breeds are the top dogs for requests to keep a restricted breed, MPs heard on Friday.

Walter Roban, the Minister of Home Affairs, told the House they “continue to be the main dog type”, in response to questions from Sylvan Richards, the shadow minister.

Mr Richards, of the One Bermuda Alliance, noted an increase in the number of requests and asked which dog breed was related to the most requests.

He added that he was surprised to hear of an increase in the number of biting incidents.

Earlier the Budget debate heard that estimated revenue for the Department of Environment and Natural Resources was forecast to rumble by $145,000 in the 2019-20 fiscal year.

Mr Roban said that was “largely attributable to the reduction in collected dog licensing fees”.

Expected revenues in that category dropped from an estimated $536,000 for 2018-19 to $263,000, which he said reflected less than full compliance.

“Every effort will be made to have every dog licensed at the appropriate fee,” he added.

The target for licensed animals in the coming fiscal year will be 4,600, representing 60 per cent of the island's eligible dogs, with an expected 600 complaints or incidents getting a response from dog wardens.

Mr Roban said that regulations connected to the Dogs Act were under development after the legislation was amended last October.

“We remain in a period of transition, with the full impact yet to be seen,” he said. “However, there has been a significant increase in the number of requests to keep restricted breeds, as well as increases in incidents of biting people and animals.”

Mr Richards said he was “pleased when the Act was amended to allow a reduction in the confiscations of dangerous breeds”.

He added: “Euthanising dogs was a very vexing issue for the department when I was minister.”

Mr Roban said the cost to license dogs that had not been neutered or spayed dogs would be $135, but just $25 to license neutered animals, to encourage owners to get their pets treated.

He said the cost to license non-neutered dogs was not an increase, but a correction to errors in the fee schedule in the Act of 2018.

Members of the Opposition had questioned the big hike in licensing fees.

Mr Roban said action was being taken to guard the public purse from substantial loss of revenue.

He added that a daily fee would now apply to stray dogs that the department hold and care for, of $30 per day fee in addition to a $100 charge.

Patricia Gordon-Pamplin, of the OBA, said the fee to license non-neutered dogs was high, and that people might be forced to sell their pets as a result.

Lawrence Scott, the Government Whip, said pet ownership was expensive and that having a dog could be seen as a luxury.

He added that people had to pay for the joys of pet ownership.