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Dog owners beware

PORT OF SPAIN — Owners of dangerous dogs, beware!

You are facing a ten-year jail sentence and a $200,000 fine if your dog kills someone. That is unless the person was about to commit a crime (such as illegally entering your property or do harm to you) and you have “reasonable cause” for “encouraging the dog to be aggressive or to attack” that person.

If your dogs injures someone, your situation is only slightly better: five years imprisonment and a $100,000 fine.

Under the Dog Control Bill, 2013, piloted by Attorney General Anand Ramlogan in the House of Representatives yesterday, owners of dangerous dogs would also have to have an insurance policy of $250,000 or higher.

They would also have to have a microchip installed in their dangerous dogs (so that if and when the dog attacks someone) the owner can be traced.

The bill, which seeks to provide for the control of all dogs, prevents any owner of any kind of dog from taking the animal to a restaurant, a place where food or beverages are sold or consumed by the public, commercial mall or shop.

Ramlogan said unlike the previous legislation — Dangerous Dogs bill which was passed but never proclaimed and implemented — the current Dog Control Bill espouses responsible ownership, rather than the elimination (via neutering or prohibition) of dangerous dogs.

He said the bill provides for the licensing of dangerous dogs, with owners paying a $1,000 licensing fee for a dangerous dog or $1,500 for more than one dangerous dog. And any person who keeps a dangerous dog which is not licensed would be fined $50,000.

The bill, which requires a special majority, repeals the Dangerous Dogs Act 2000. Dangerous dogs (defined in the bill as Class A) include pitbull terrier or any dog bred from the pitbull terrier; fila brasileiros or any dog bred from this type and Japanese Tosas, or any dog bred from this type.

However, the bill covers all other breeds of dogs defined as Class B but it does not provide for liability for death or injury caused by Class B dogs.

Ramlogan said all the evidence showed that pitbulls were responsible for a disproportionate number of attacks on persons “with the most horrifying consequences”. He said the ministry spoke to owners, victims and police officers in preparing the legislation.

“I have been told by a police officer that himself and four other officers were trying to get one pitbull off a victim and try as they might when even the owner of the dog arrived, the dog would not let go. It is a Herculean task to pry a victim loose from a pitbull. In most cases the only way is to shoot the pitbull or cause severe injury or else the dog simply won’t let go,” he said. (Express)

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