Last update: 13-Dec-2013 3:20 am
Friday, December 13, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Follow Antigua Dog Control Act as example
It is indeed a tragic state of affairs when another human life is lost. This time however, not from guns or serious crime, but from a dog residing in their own yard. Our governments had 12 years put legislation in place, from the time that the first few attacks had started. The present government has had some time to also review the situation and seek legislative reform of the Dangerous Dog Act as the original bill was deemed “too draconian.”
However, the main thing that our government has, which is rare, is a vision of the end result of proclaiming our current legislation. Many other countries, including England (from which our original legislation was copied), have or are in the process of repealing their old legislation regarding pit bull bans as the cost of enforcing the legislation was high and they were unable to prove most of their cases in court. Also, in many countries, there was no major decline in pit bull biting cases.
Newer dog ownership laws are accepted and enforced in many other countries, larger and smaller than ours; New Zealand and Antigua and Barbuda for example. Neither the size of our state nor our “world status” should prevent us from aspiring towards drafting better legislation.
If we choose to enact legislation that has failed in other countries, some of which have had it for as long as 20 years, what kind of governance do we have? What kind of governance are we choosing? Are we willing to pick up the dregs of another country’s laws after they are already deciding to throw it out, and re-fashion it for our own uses?
Dog-lovers, animal activists and veterinarians have differing views on the whole affair, but they all agree that legislation is needed to control all dogs. The reason for our agreement on this is that we realise that any large breed, aggressive dog has the potential to kill or seriously maim a person. Apparent pit bull attacks outnumber attacks by other dogs, however, we are not even aware of the proportion of pit bulls, Rottweiler or German Shepherds due to a lack of statistics.
However, our legislative authorities seem blind to that reality. This is also why many of us have asked our Attorney General to consider adopting the Antigua and Barbuda Dog Registration and Control Act instead. However, it has fallen on deaf ears. As a result, the Bill is still riddled with inefficiencies and legal technicalities and there is little that can be definitively done to mend it. Instead, our Attorney General is determined to go “full speed ahead” to proclaim the Bill.
Hopefully if the Bill proceeds as is that it will be enforced, that irresponsible owners will not throw away their pit bulls and arm themselves with other aggressive dogs because they still want protection for their home from intruders. I can only hope that a reasonable solution will be found by our opposition or independent senators.
Dr Renee Lezama-Driscoll
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