Last update: 11-Dec-2013 3:14 am
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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AG on Govt handling of dog act: Critics should visit victims of attacks
Attorney General Anand Ramlogan has suggested that the critics of the Dog Control Act should be more concerned about the welfare of victims of dog maulings rather than the animals. “We have to get it right as a country and get our priorities in order,” Ramlogan said yesterday, even as debate raged on both sides about Government’s handling of the proposed new law.
“The fact of the matter is, the empirical data that we have suggests that certain dogs have demonstrated propensity towards violent and vicious attacks against human beings. That is a problem we must treat with,” he said. Ramlogan was speaking to reporters after a certificate distribution programme for student interns at his ministry, St Vincent Street, Port-of-Spain. His comments came the day after 82-year-old Maraval grandmother Lillian Bunsee was mauled to death by one of her relative’s American Bullies.
Ramlogan said animal-rights activists who claimed the recently passed legislation was unnecessarily breed-specific should visit the victims of dog maulings to see the effects the attacks had on their lives. He added: “I want them to visit the many children who have been mauled, who have to live with bags attached to them, who are being forced to eke out a living because they have to live inside because they are facially disfigured, with their marital and employment prospects having been damaged for life.”
Ramlogan said in his contribution to the debate on the act in the last session of Parliament, he said the maulings in T&T had been done by pitbulls. “I want to say I feel very strongly about this matter. Dog-specific legislation is a must. The idea that we should have dog control for all dogs, from pompek and pothound to pitbull, is one I do not subscribe to,” Ramlogan said. He said he expected that the legislation would be operational by the end of this year or early next year.
“In fact, yesterday I spoke to Minister of Local Government Dr Suruj Rambachan to make sure the local government bodies are putting the necessary infrastructure in place to prepare for the effects of the Dog Control Act,” Ramlogan said. He said under the provisions of the legislation, it would be easier for victims of dog maulings to sue dog owners.
“To succeed in court before, you had to prove that the owner knew that the dog had a proclivity or inclination to attack human beings. That is no longer going to be the case,” Ramlogan said. He said when the legislation was passed by Parliament earlier this year, there was an understanding among parliamentarians that further amendments to the legislation would be debated during the new session of Parliament.
“As soon as we get the budget out of the way I propose to take the amendments to the Dog Control Act, so we can in fact implement and operationalise it,” Ramlogan said. The legislation, which Ramlogan piloted, replaces the Dangerous Dog Act of 2000.
It seeks to classify certain breeds of dangerous dogs and regulate the way they are kept by their owners. The legislation also requires owners to have insurance for the dogs classified under the act and, like the older legislation, includes penalties for owners whose dogs attack or kill people.
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