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OBA questions lack of progress on laws for dangerous dogs

Asking questions: Robin Tucker, the One Bermuda Alliance Senate leader (File photograph)

The Opposition has called on the Government to clarify laws on dangerous dogs more than a year after new regulations were expected to be implemented.

Robin Tucker, the Opposition Leader in the Senate, spoke out after she put questions on the issue to the Government in the Upper House last week.

Lindsay Simmons, the Junior Minister of Home Affairs, explained that the issuing of tickets for minor dog offences was “not yet in force” at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources — but that amendments to the Dogs Act 2008 were “in process” to introduce it.

She added that a report with suggestions for dealing with restricted dog breeds and protecting the community from dog attacks would be handed to the Ministry of Home Affairs this week.

Ms Tucker questioned the delay, and pointed out yesterday that the Government said the amendments were “complete” more than a year ago.

In a statement in the House of Assembly in March 2023, Walter Roban, the Minister of Home Affairs, said: “... regulations are complete to implement ticketing for minor offences.

“This will allow the animal control section to deal with minor offences more expeditiously and allow the team to concentrate their efforts on more serious matters.”

Mr Roban added then that a shake-up was needed after a spate of incidents that involved dangerous dogs.

Ms Tucker said yesterday, in relation to her questions last week: “The junior minister responded that the Canine Advisory Committee has committed to providing their recommendations to both the minister and the Ministry of Home Affairs by late this week.

“It is hoped that, among other things, this report from the committee can provide some clarity in respect of animal control officers’ ability to issue tickets to dog owners for minor offences.

“Clarity is required, because in March of 2023, minister Roban told the House of Assembly that new regulations were to be implemented.

“As reported in the media, ‘regulations are complete to implement ticketing for minor [dog] offences’.

“Yet last week, when the junior minister was then asked in the Senate how many tickets had been issued, senator Simmons said none, explaining this was because the regulations were still in progress.

“The public might reasonably ask, which is it? If the regulations are still not ready, as the Senate has just been told, why was the House told in March 2023 that they were being implemented?

“The ability to issue tickets to dog owners for minor infractions committed by their pets will be a step in the right direction — although far more still must be done to better protect the public and other animals from harm.

“As we await the details the committee report, the public can only hope that their recommendations are such that minister Roban can take them on board and act swiftly on them.

“Since the law on dangerous dogs was changed by the PLP government some five-plus years ago, minister Roban has made a number of statements acknowledging the dog issues, and also made promises to address it.

“Yet the public have seen very little action from him on this critical issue.

“I am hopeful that in the coming weeks we will finally get some movement on this critical issue before another person or beloved pet is attacked by an out-of-control dog.”

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Published June 19, 2024 at 7:56 am (Updated June 19, 2024 at 7:42 am)

OBA questions lack of progress on laws for dangerous dogs

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