Gov't to close regulatory loopholes after another dog attack

Gov't to close regulatory loopholes after another dog attack

Thursday, September 26, 2019

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MINISTER of Local Government and Community Development Desmond McKenzie says the Government will be working to close the regulatory loophole that has been exposed through a recent incident, in which a St Richards Primary School teacher was mauled by pit bulls last week Thursday.

“I really must express my own sympathies to the teacher and to her family, and wish her a swift and complete physical and emotional recovery. She was simply going about her business when this traumatic and frightening incident occurred,” McKenzie said in a release from the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development.

He explained that while Section 51 of the Local Governance Act 2016 gives a municipal corporation or city municipality the power to make regulations for the keeping of animals, including dogs, those regulations depend on the development of policies that will have to be approved by Cabinet.

“The advice received from the Office of the Chief Parliamentary Counsel is that a clear enforcement framework, with all the modern restrictions and penalties, will have to be established for these regulations, and we will have to create the administrative support that will also be needed to make them effective,” the minister said. “There are very old and less than comprehensive laws dating back to the 19th century, but the controls we need now will have to include not just stray dogs, but specifically, dog attacks, the treatment of dangerous dogs that escape from private property into public spaces, dog breeding, and the conditions in which dogs are kept by their owners.”

McKenzie also said he will be having consultations with the ministers of health and wellness and of agriculture and fisheries, who he said also have a clear policy interest in this issue.

“I also intend to meet with a cross-section of public and private sector stakeholders in this regard; such as the police, the private security companies, the local authorities, Jamaica Customs, the Jamaica Veterinary Medical Association, the private dog breeder associations, the Jamaica Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, among others, to develop a clear and comprehensive policy recommendation to Cabinet so the new regulations can be quickly drafted and approved,” he said.

“I want to make a special appeal to the owners and carers of dogs to exercise a high degree of responsibility in managing them. I am calling for them to be properly managed at all times, so that an incident such as this does not recur,” said McKenzie.

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