Opinion: Today, The Dog Amnesty. What Next?

July 16, 2011

[Written by N.H.Cole Simons JP MP, Shadow Minister of the Environment and Energy]

It is with great interest that Bermuda sits here today and watches its Government implement a six month amnesty on illegally held dogs on the Island. The amnesty is suppose to regularize those illegally bred animals already in Bermuda. It also tries to halt illegal breeding and re-educate the public on dog legislation. In addition, it puts that public on notice that in the future, illegally held and illegally bred dogs will be seized.

As far as I am concerned, the amnesty alone will not solve Bermuda dog control challenges. We in the One Bermuda Alliance would take a more detailed approach in addressing these challenges. We would have introduced the amnesty along with legislation, and regulations which will punish the deed and not the breed. In my estimation, the time is ripe for the introduction of non- breed specific legislation which is which is fair to both the dog owners, and to those people who regard certain dogs as a threat to the community.

Bermuda must also enhance its dog control laws for by increasing the penalties for owning a dog which causes serious injury. In addition, we can seriously increase the penalties to a term of imprisonment, and /or an increased fine of around $20k for irresponsible and dangerous behavior.

May I also suggest that Minister Roban work more closely with Bermuda’s All Breed Club and the Dog Training Club. He should also closely review and give serious consideration to recommendations found in the Government sanctioned 2001 Dog Committee Report, which recommends that and I quote ‘Government should not ban specific breeds, but punish the owners and not the breed”.

The 2001 Dog report went on to state that a September 2000 issue of the Journal of American Veterinary Medical Association indicated that over the past 20 years in the United States at least 25 breeds of dogs have been involved in 238 fatalities. The highest rate of death, 58% were by dogs that were unrestrained but were on their owner’s property. These dogs were not restricted to pit bulls and the like. They included Dachshunds, Golden Retrievers, Yorkshire Terriers and Labrador Retrievers. So the principle of breed specific regulations is totally flawed and without merit.

In summary, I believe that the Minister must re examine Bermuda’s Dangerous Dog Control legislation and regulations. Our laws could run parallel to the laws supported by the American Kennel Club which supports reasonable, enforceable, nondiscriminatory laws which govern the ownership of dogs.

Our laws must establish a fair process by which dogs are identified as dangerous based on stated and measurable actions. Our laws should include clearly defined enforcement of generic, non- breed specific dangerous dog laws, with emphasis on chronically irresponsible owners. We must enhance and enforce our leash laws and provide further support to Bermuda’ neutering campaign.

There should also be school based programs, and adult education programs that teach pet selection strategies, pet care, responsibility and bite prevention.

In the end, Bermuda’s Dog Control Initiatives must be fair to the dog, the dog owners and those that regard certain dogs as a threat. We must balance the health, safety, and welfare needs of our people and the animals of Bermuda.

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Comments (22)

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  1. Terry says:

    Simons is right. All kinds of breeds cause havoc and injury. Spashially Sneiders Hot Dogs……..Next they’ll ban buns….and we know we all love a good bun…..

    PLP….People Love Puppies…..(spacially dee vuns det vote)…..

    • Triangle Drifter says:

      Yep…more electioneering pablum for the faithful to drink up.

      Who is more likely to have an illegally bred dog anyway?

      Whats next? How bout a gun amnesty? Those who have em can keep em.

    • Face the Nation says:

      @Terry…Supa Lottimore woulda had you in backa de truck ah long time ago , you and Cole Simons together cause Supa loved him mongrel

      • Terry says:

        Thats so funny ‘Face dee Naysheon’. Super and I were good friends. He was a “Po Po” you know…bwhaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

  2. NO WAY OBA says:

    They are jokers, love a good weekend joke. Can’t take him seriously, ever listen to him in the house of assembly, pain full = nice enough guy but not no mp leader

  3. Jonas says:

    yawn…Bermuda’s politics has clearly gone to the dogs…

  4. Election summer 2012 says:

    Please understand the next election will be in 12 months. It’s election mode, you will see more goodies coming your way. LOL

    The Cog has spoken.

  5. sigh says:

    Yawn…as usual…

  6. You got me says:

    I am going to definitely vote for the O.B.A…..right!

    • hmmm says:

      You will vote for them, when you get laid off because Boss Lady messed up the economy!!

      • You got me says:

        HOLD your breathe…one thing unlike you, I know the facts about the state of our economy,you seem to also know but are intent on misleading many with your comments.

    • Independent Voter says:

      Our family don’t want the old boys association aka OBA. we won’t be voting for them nor the PLP

  7. The Truth (One And Only) says:

    Maybe they should have a ban on idiotic politicians..

  8. D Rock says:

    Simons is making sense!

  9. Cedar Beams (Original) says:

    They should have a politician amnesty. Anyone knowing the whereabouts of a stupid brainless idiotic politician should call 911 and give details of his/her location. All calls will be treated as confidential.

  10. dog lover says:

    Sorry the dog ban is small matters to you all, but on a serious note, I agree that there is a better way to punish the owner not the breed. It is nice to finally hear someone in Government talk with a little sense. However, having our current Gov. do something that makes sense (like this does) is probably expecting too much.

    ‘Bermuda is another world’ and we should embrace that statement because there could be rules and legislation that could be put into place easily that could very well work here because of our size that would never work in other countries. By chipping all dogs or maybe even having the Gov. create dna pools it could really help to combat illegal breeding. We should definitely be able to enforce responsible pet owner regulations on this ‘lil rock’ if much larger countries are able to do so successfully. Give us (responsisble dog owners) the freedom of owning any breed of dog – just strictly enforce and govern all rules and legisaltion better! Surely it’s manageable on our little island?!!!!!!!!

  11. End the Ban says:

    Whilst it appears that they are making an attempt to try and head in the right direction, I think they have missed the mark. They thought instituting a ban on certain breeds would help to solve the problem, however it clearly didn’t work if they need to offer an amnesty due to the large number of illegally owned dogs. In my opinion, the banning of certain breeds of dogs is ludicrous. This was a short term band-aid that hasn’t fixed the problem at hand, which is not the breed, it is the people. There are no problem breeds, only problem owners. Sure, some breeds of dogs are more challenging than others. However, it should be the obligation of the dog owner to ensure that they are able to handle the commitments and responsibilities that come along with owning a dog before they bring it home, regardless of the breed.

    The unfortunate thing is that it is the dogs who suffer in the end. In the case of illegal dogs being confiscated or a dog that attacks another dog or a person, they usually end up getting put down. The owners meanwhile get away with a slap on the wrist, usually in the form of a fine. I strongly believe that the ban should actually be on certain people from owning dogs. If you are irresponsible and cannot ensure you are complying with the laws surrounding dog ownership, it should be you that is banned from further owning a dog.

    There are probably some cases where this form of discipline would be inappropriate. For example, the owner could have done everything right – licensed the dog, provided proper shelter, food and water, provided exercise, disciple and affection (in that order, as Cesar Millan would say!), installed fencing or invisible fencing to contain the dog in their yard, posted warning signs on their property etc – and someone enters their property and the dog feels threatened and attacks the person. The owner has exhibited due diligence and appears to have done everything reasonable to prevent this from happening. However, I fear these cases would be few and far between.

    Another example that is less serious but still sad is the possibility that dogs will be prohibited in the Botanical Gardens and other public areas. There have been numerous reports of dogs walking off-leash in these areas when the law clearly states that dogs should not be taken to any protected area unleashed. Owners have also been seen allowing their dogs to defecate wherever they please and not picking up after them. Botanical Gardens and other similar areas have even installed disposable bag dispensers for owners to use free of charge in the event that their dog defecates where it shouldn’t – how much easier can it be? This is yet another classic case of the owners being negligent and irresponsible, not to mention selfish and disrespectful of their surroundings and others, by not ensuring their dogs are on leashes and their excrement is disposed of properly. And who suffers in the end? The dogs, once again.

    It is my hope that one day the powers that be will wake up and institute a proper ban on these people from owning dogs ever again and lift the ridiculous ban on breeds once and for all.

  12. Caninefriends says:

    The plp govt are more dangerous and more a liability to our economy(they have been overpaid,squandered our few $$ on themselves and family and cause our debt to sky rocket) and our island than these ‘lovable dogs’ NOT THE DOGS BUT THE OWNERS are the fault

  13. Wholetd'dogs45 says:

    What bunch of radical conceited scums to say that dogs are our enemies.When you have a govt for the last 15yrs have RAPED,PLUNDERED our almost perfect sytem to shambles and still allow to spend the last dimes we have..These dogs cost us anything and how many ppl have been bitten or attack in the last 15 yrs? Down with them with their UNFAIR AND UNACCEPTABLE action and DOWN with the plp govt for taking Bda to the ‘cleaners’ KARMA to them for vile and greedy ways..They are NOT BERMUDIANS but ‘paracites on each one of us Onions’

  14. noplp59 says:

    The only thing should go is the plp worthless govt for scamming us with their ‘race card bs” and made Bermuda a third world place.Leave our loyal dog friends ALONE

  15. Leavedogsalone says:

    We taxpayers would rather a ‘dog bite’ than the vicious and corrupt BITES from this lame govt!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!plp

  16. Cindy67 says:

    They are Not idiot politicians they are cunning,full of guile,clever and deceiving and that takes savvy to bambozzle us for 15 long yrs of ‘NONPERFORMANCE GOVT’So give them the boot and let’s give our dogs a better chance to survive..they need better owners.