Alleged owner of dogs that mauled St Ann woman chargedFriday, June 18, 2021
ST ANN, Jamaica — The alleged owner of two dogs that attacked and left a 61-year-old woman severely injured has become the first person to be charged under the Dogs (Liability for Attacks) Act, 2020. Carlington Reid, of Eltham District, has been charged with criminal negligence and will appear in the St Ann's Bay Parish Court on July 6.
Bavette Watson-Balfour, also from Eltham in Ocho Rios, was reportedly attacked on the morning of June 12 as she walked along the road, on her way to work. Two dogs, described as pit bulls, attacked her legs and she fell on the roadway left slippery from overnight rainfall.
The dogs then began biting her all over her body. Co-workers heard her cries from her nearby workplace and rushed to the scene. They found her struggling with both dogs. The animals were eventually restrained and Watson-Balfour taken to receive medical attention.
The case against the alleged owner will be closely watched as it will be the first prosecution under the Act that was passed last November, replacing a more than 100-year-old piece of legislation. Under the Act, anyone injured by another's dog while in a public place has up to six years to file a civil claim. The dog owner can also be charged with a criminal offence punishable by a fine of up to $500,000 or up to six months imprisonment. Those penalties may be doubled if the owner was previously warned.
If someone dies or is incapacitated as a result of a dog attack, the owner can face a minimum of five years in jail but this can go up to 15 years if the owner did nothing to restrain the dog or help during the attack.
The dogs that attacked Watson-Balfour have since been impounded by the Jamaica Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
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