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Banned dog policy under review

The Bermuda Government is reviewing its policy on dealing with banned dogs after they have been seized.

Owners of prohibited breeds could be able to export their pets, when it is “logistically and financially viable”, according to the Ministry of Health.

It comes after a series of cases in which owners have strongly criticised the rule that involves prohibited dogs being euthanised.

A ministry spokeswoman told The Royal Gazette it was looking to develop a “sustainable, long-term solution”.

“The ministry is trying to find options to assist owners of prohibited dogs where export is logistically and financially viable on an immediate basis,” the spokeswoman added.

Last month, Tishae Davis and Angela James's dog, Kash, was seized because wardens believed he had been illegally bred and was later put down.

Ms James and Ms Davis claimed they had asked wardens for the chance to send their pet abroad to save his life but were not given that option.

Their case was in stark contrast to that of Salintae Tuzo-Smith, who was able to save her dog from being euthanised by flying him overseas even after he had been seized.

Seven-month-old pitbull-mix Dayyo, who had been taken by animal wardens, left the Island despite the Government reiterating that it was “simply impractical and unworkable” to send impounded dogs overseas.

Ms James told this newspaper that she welcomed the move by the Government, but it had come too late for her dog.

“I am pleased that they are going to review this policy, it is extremely unfair,” she added. “But it is too late for Kash. They took him and they killed him, even though I told them he was not a pitbull or even a pitbull mix.

“We asked if he could be sent abroad to save his life, but they said no. Then we hear of other recent cases where people have been allowed to send their dogs abroad even after they have been seized. It does not seem fair or clear what is happening. I hope they sort it out soon.”

Yesterday, the ministry confirmed “a number of illegal pitbull-type dogs” have been seized by animal wardens.

“The resources, costs and logistics required to deal with collected illegal dogs whose owners want to transport them overseas are prohibitive for the public purse, as the Government cannot bear the cost of housing and caring for an illegal animal throughout the associated delays,” the spokeswoman added.

“Enquiries are being made to work with suitable community agencies to arrange housing and transport of illegal dogs collected by the department. Owners of illegal dogs are reminded that they may export their dogs before the animal is collected by the department so as to avoid urgency and distress later on.

“Owners have to bear the cost of the transfer and associated expenses, and should anticipate logistical challenges caused by the destination jurisdiction and airline restrictions.”

Punish the Deed Not the Breed Bermuda has been petitioning Government to amend the legislation so that pitbull-type dogs are classed as restricted rather than prohibited.

A spokeswoman for the group said: “We are steadfast in our commitment to amend breed legislation and to push for an amnesty for owners to license their pets.

“We want everyone to know that we are all working diligently to bring about change.

“We are hoping to receive a response to the letter sent to Minister Atherden.”

Flight from death: pitbull-mix Dayyo was taken in by a non-profit organisation in California (Photograph supplied)

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Published December 23, 2015 at 8:00 am (Updated December 23, 2015 at 8:26 am)

Banned dog policy under review

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