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ONLINE READERS COMMENT: Ban on dangerous dogs long overdue

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

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The Editor,

I read with cautious optimism the announcement by Minister Audley Shaw regarding possible legislative amendment to deal with dangerous dogs. Unfortunately as our legislators and leaders on a whole tend to be extremely reactive it took the death of Mr Whittingham Cole for anyone to look into a matter that has been simmering for quite some time. In fact, your newspaper listed some instances in the recent past that involved death or serious injury by pitbulls. Nevertheless nothing was done on those occasions. I suppose I should be happy that it is late than never.

The situation is a personal one to me for, although I have not lost any loved ones to pitbull attacks, I came pretty close to this happening. One Christmas Day I was visiting relatives in Trelawny. While having a lovely dinner outside, two very large pit bulls somehow gained entrance to our yard and was approaching us menacingly and at very high speed. Our two dogs sought to protect us and tried to repel an attack by the dogs. It should be noted that very young children were with us at the time. During the melee one of our dogs was killed and another suffered permanent injuries that to this day affect his mobility.

Shortly after the attack, we called the police and informed them that pitbulls were prowling the community and attacking people and other animals. They came to the community but by that time the animals were nowhere to be found.

In another instance some time later, I was walking my relative's dog in the same community close to the park. Accompanying me were his young children. Once again our dog was attacked by a different set of pitbulls. This time, when the police were called, we were informed that there was nothing they could do as their officers were not trained to capture these dangerous beasts. Despite my protest that the animals were extremely close to the community park that at the time had many young children, the officer who answered the phone insisted that they could do nothing.

Despite the insistence by pitbull owners and breeders that training and socialisation have a lot to do with the aggression in these beasts, I tend to wholely disagree. The truth is that pitbulls and rottweilers are very unpredictable animals that will turn on their owners without provocation. I have had friends who have been attacked by their own dogs and they have never before shown signs of aggression. These dogs also tend to attack children and other dogs without cause. In the absence of responsible owners, I believe the move to ban them out right is a step in the right direction. In my opinion, having a pitbull in your yard is akin to having a wild animal such as a tiger or lion. In fact, they can do just as much damage I believe.

If we want to look into legislation regarding dangerous dogs we can look into the measures that were put in place by the Trinidad and Tobago government a few years ago. We perhaps can learn from them in how to deal with the matter. In the meanwhile, I can't wait for us to get rid of them altogether. I am sure at that time many Jamaicans will breathe a sigh of relief.

Alex Williams

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