Police cite obstacles in probe of man killed by dogs

Sunday, August 19, 2018

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THE Spanish Town Police say they have hit a roadblock in the investigation of the death of 66-year-old Whittington Cole, who was mauled to death by dogs in Hampton Green, Spanish Town, St Catherine, on July 21.

The police, in a news release from their Corporate Communications Unit (CCU), yesterday appealed to residents of Hampton Green and surrounding communities, who may be able to assist them in their investigation, to do so.

The Jamaica Observer first reported the story last Tuesday that Cole was walking home when, on reaching the intersection of Grants Crescent and Locksley Avenue in Hampton Green, he was attacked by a group of dogs believed to be pit bulls and Rottweilers. He was badly bitten and was assisted by residents to Spanish Town Hospital, where he died while undergoing treatment. He was bitten on his right arm's main artery which caused him to lose blood rapidly.

His daughter, Latoya Cole told the Observer that the police were “dragging their feet” with the investigation.

The Observer then contacted the commanding officer in charge of the St Catherine North Police Division, Beau Rigaby who said investigations are ongoing.

Cole told the Observer that a statement was given to the police, however it was misinterpreted and the cops visited the Homestead community instead. She said the police only visited the scene a week after the incident occurred.

Yesterday the CCU release said: “The police have since canvassed the area on a number of occasions, with the aim of seeking the truth surrounding the incident. A number of residents have shared what they heard but are unwilling to provide written statements.

“We are therefore appealing to persons who have seen or heard anything regarding this incident to contact the Spanish Town Police Criminal Investigations Branch (CIB) at 876-984-2305, Police 119 emergency number, Crime Stop at 311 or 811 or the nearest Police Station.”

The Observer visited the area and spoke with the man believed to be the owner of the dogs who carried out the attack, but he denied his dogs' involvement.

The incident, which has since sparked outrage among Jamaicans, is one of several to occur in recent years.

In February 2016 the Observer reported the death of 56-year-old Jerome Pow after he was attacked by pit bulls in the vicinity of Hagley Park Road.

In July 2011, 62-year-old Valerie Stephenson of St Catherine was killed by a pit bull as she walked in the community. Four months earlier, in Westmoreland, eight-month-old Oshawn Obermann was mauled by a pit bull owned by his parents. He survived with major injuries. In December 2012 two-year-old Ronica Gregory of St Catherine was killed by a pit bull and her sister seriously injured.

Also in that year, a woman and her 14-month-old son were attacked by a pit bull in Spanish Town.

On January 2, 2014, a three-year-old boy lost an eye after being mauled by a pit bull in St Ann, and on January 4, 2014, a 59-year-old mechanic was mauled by three pit bulls in St Mary.

On Friday, dog expert Tammy Browne called for changes to the century-old Dog Liability Act and the Cruelty to Animal Act.

“These dogs are terriers. What people don't understand is that pit bulls are very strong and their behaviours are usually learnt — they are often used as baits. They are trained to fight; it is not natural,” she said.

She suggested that attacks can be prevented if there is regulation by Government.

“You don't apply for a gun without going to training. It's the same thing. I love my pit bull, but these animals are dangerous. You cannot allow an idiot, high on coke, to have these types of dogs. A pit bull can grow up to 60 pounds and Rottweilers can grow to between 120 and 140 [pounds]. When they bite your leg they can break it. Taking on a dog is a commitment, and you have to amend the law so that people understand this,” she said adding, “the next attack could be your child”.

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