Minister Bean On Dog Importations

December 29, 2011

Minister of Environment, Planning and Infrastructure Strategy Marc Bean this morning [Dec. 29] made two announcements regarding the island’s dog regulations — confirming pets will still be able to brought in from the UK without rabies vaccinations and adjusting restrictions on some previously banned breeds.

Minister Bean said despite new UK regulations on importing pets from the European Union, the Bermuda Government has decided the risk is sufficiently low to enable Bermuda to continue accepting dogs and cats of any age from the United Kingdom without requiring any rabies vaccination.

The Minister also said recent changes in policy regarding the categorisation of dogs will see three categories introduced: Prohibited, Restricted and non-Restricted. Dogs in the Non-Restricted category will have no change in their conditions for keeping, licensing or breeding.

The list of Prohibited and Restricted breeds is below:

Prohibited breeds would not be able to be bred or imported under any circumstances, and include American Pit Bull Terriers, American Bulldogs, Brazilian Mastiffs, Wolf Hybrids and more.

Restricted breeds would be able to be bred or imported if their owners meet certain conditions such as keeping the dog in an escape-proof enclosure and on a leash when not in the enclosure.

Anyone wishing to own a restricted breed will have their property inspected to ensure that they meet the requirements prior to obtaining the dog.

The Minister’s full statement follows below:

Good morning,

Today I am here to make two announcements regarding the importation of dogs into Bermuda.

The first one I would like to address is the recent change in policy regarding the categorization of dogs – something which I’m sure will come as a welcome amendment for enthusiasts of various breeds of dogs on the island.

Going forward, there will now exist three categories of dogs: Prohibited, Restricted and non-Restricted.

Today’s announcement, on which I will expand fully in a moment, stems from the 2003 policy banning the importation and breeding of certain types of dog.

The ban was implemented following a growing number of complaints regarding incidents of biting, injury and aggressive behavior by these breeds of dog, as well as increased incidents of cruelty to those breeds being reported.

Additionally, the then Minister responsible for animal control at the time was receiving complaints of a similar nature from his constituents.

The pitbull terrier has been the source of a disproportionately large percentage of complaints, including those of injury, cruelty and dog fighting.

The decision was then made to restrict issuing import and breeding permits for certain breeds of dogs – namely the pitbull terrier. The result was a list of breeds for which the Department of Environmental Protection would not issue permits unless a strong case could be made to the Minister by the applicant.

The ban has had a positive effect as the number of incidents of biting and threatening behavior reported to us has declined between 2001 and 2009.

However, it soon became apparent that this policy was impacting responsible dog owners as well as irresponsible owners.

Subsequently, responsible owners requested that the policy be reviewed with a view to permitting law abiding owners, upon review, to breed or import certain dogs. Their position was that, ‘The innocent were paying for the sins of the guilty’.

Furthermore, despite the restrictive policy, illegal breeding was still occurring.

In response, a Canine Advisory Committee was established in 2010. This Committee comprised of a former Dog Warden, Directors of The Bermuda Kennel Club, a veterinarian, dog trainers and previous breeders of restricted breeds, previous and current owners of restricted breeds, and representatives of the Animal Control Section of the Department of Environmental Protection. I would like to publically acknowledge and thank them now for all of their fine service to this community.

The Canine Advisory Committee was tasked with the following:

  • to evaluate the effectiveness of the restrictive policy on certain breeds of dogs in Bermuda;
  • to review the effects the restrictions have had on certain dog owners;
  • and to review the possibility of lifting or modifying the restrictions on certain breeds while maintaining the safety of the public of Bermuda.

As a result of their evaluation, the Committee recommended three categories of dogs: Prohibited, Restricted and non-Restricted.

Prohibited breeds would not be able to be bred or imported under any circumstances.

Restricted breeds, however, would be able to be bred or imported if their owners meet certain conditions pertaining to their ability to maintain such a dog responsibly. This means that certain dogs that are currently prohibited would now be considered restricted. Dogs in the restricted breeds category are those believed to be at moderate-risk for causing injury.

Furthermore, the Committee recommended that Government adopt the following conditions for the keeping of restricted breeds of dogs:

That they should be kept in an escape-proof enclosure, the size of which would allow normal movements of the animal, but should be no less than 60 square feet. Every gate of the enclosure, pen or fence must have a self-locking mechanism;

That the dogs may not be tied on the property, and must be on a leash and under the control of a person capable of maintaining control of the animal when not in the approved containment area;

And that anyone wishing to own a restricted breed must apply to have their property inspected to ensure that they meet the requirements prior to obtaining the subject dog.

Additionally, it should be only under very exceptional conditions that anyone be granted permission to keep more than two dogs of a restricted breed and no one may breed a restricted-breed dog within a year of obtaining the dog.

Dogs in the non-restricted breeds category are those believed to be at low-risk for causing injury to people or other animals. Dogs in the non-restricted category will have no change in their conditions for keeping, licensing or breeding.

The Ministry has accepted all of these recommendations and now will move towards implementation.
I also want to state that no retroactive breeders permits will be issued.

A Canine Advisory Committee will be maintained to act as the review board for any applications pertaining to the keeping or breeding of restricted breeds. The Committee will monitor the modification of the restricted policy closely and report on the performance of that policy to the Minister semi-annually for the next three years.

It should be stressed that any dog may have the propensity to become a threat or be dangerous to the community if the keeper of that dog does not socialize or train them.

The second announcement today is in response to the recent announcement by the Government of the United Kingdom that, effective January 1st, 2012, it will invoke new regulations that will bring its protocol for the importation of pets into line with that of the European Union.

The new regulations will permit easier entry of dogs and cats into the UK from European Union Member States and EU-approved countries from around the world. This change has implications for Bermuda in terms of how we continue to view animals coming from the UK.

The main concern for Bermuda at this time has been the extent to which these policy changes could potentially pose a greater risk of rabies being imported to Bermuda, which currently enjoys a rabies free status.

The Agriculture (Control of Animal Diseases) Regulations 1947 recognizes the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and Jamaica as being rabies-free because these jurisdictions fulfill the international criteria for that status, including policies to prevent the introduction of the rabies virus.

We currently receive approximately 200 animals per year from the United Kingdom. For us, the new protocol has caused government to consider whether less restriction on animals entering the UK from Europe could increase Bermuda’s vulnerability to the entry of rabies.

In weighing this risk against the effect of added import regulations, we have concluded that the risk is sufficiently low to enable Bermuda to continue accepting dogs and cats of any age from the United Kingdom without requiring any rabies vaccination, and to allow these animals to enter Bermuda as young as three months of age.

Additionally, animals from rabies-infected areas will continue to require dual rabies vaccinations and do not qualify for entry before age ten months. Other requirements such as a certificate of health will also remain unchanged. Further details can be had by contacting the Department of Environmental Protection.

Thank You.

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Comments (33)

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  1. andre says:

    Well Done!

    • andre says:

      Just one question. ” Who are the idiots on this The Canine Advisory Committee ” ?

      • navin johnson says:

        lets put the people on “The Canine Advisory Committee” on the Audit Committee at least they meet once a year…..Canine Advisory Committee I think I’ve hear everything now…..

  2. Ed says:

    I am supportive of this progressive step in general terms but I am truly confused with the appearance of a random selection of prohibited vs restricted breeds.
    The hunting dogs and dogs used in fights are restricted while family dogs like american bulldogs are prohibited. How does the rhodesian , doberman, rotweiler breeds be allowed but not the american bulldog while it;s big brother the mastiff is allowed. It appears that emotion and not logic ( maybe some PR for the rotty didn’t hurt either) was used in this decision. I would ask the minister to further review this and allow some of the family breeds to be allowed under the restrictive section.

  3. Upside-down says:

    If your gonna inspect were people live first and you have the space or whatever they ask for. Than you should be able to have whatever breed you want either from the prohibited breed or the restricted breed!!!!!!

    • JCS says:

      People are stupid when it comes to animals, therefore we have to have these type of laws in place. BTW Upside-down, your grammar is terrible!

      • andre says:

        This is what I am saying! That’s why I would LOVE to know who is on this committee

      • To bad they don’t inspect people’s property before they are allowed to have children….just kidding….
        Makes sense to me, as we have some irresponsible dog owners & regulations/laws like this are required to protect the greater society from dogs owned by these sorts of people…

        • Chuck B. says:

          Remember laws are put in place because we keep acting irresponsibly.

      • Young Observer says:

        Unfortunately bad grammar, pronunciation and spelling are very common things in Bermuda

  4. Young Observer says:

    @ JCS – How many mistakes did you find in Upside-Down’s comment??

    • Hmmm says:

      If YOU’RE gonna [NOT A WORD] inspect WHERE people live first and you have the space or whatever they ask for [PREPOSITION].[SENTENCE FRAGMENT] THEN you should be able to have whatever breed you want [,] either from the prohibited breed or the restricted breed!!!!!![SENTENCE FRAGMENT]

      Maybe the young observer should spend more time in school and less time observing.

  5. Thank you says:

    Minister Bean well down my brother well down.

  6. Railway says:

    Now if only they would do something about the irresponsible dog owners who dont contain their dogs properly and also let them bark 24/7 and ruin once peaceful neighbourhoods. The dogs cant be blamed for this – its the owners that need to be dealt with. It’s all well and good to take them to court and have them fined, but they should also be prohibited from owning dogs – period! As far as I’m concerned, any dog that barks 24/7 is obviously not being well taken care of and should be removed and placed with a more caring and responsible owner. Walk along the railway trail between Store Hill and Cable Hill on any given day ….. just make sure to take your ear-plugs with you!

  7. Well Done Minister Bean,
    Your emphasis on balancing regulations with individual freedoms is welcomed. My children also thank you since I can now get them a treasured Rottweiler.

  8. Bermuda is another world for sure! says:

    German Shepherds? Really? Wonder how they came up with this list….we have always owned Shepherds and they are the most loving of dogs…..but I guess this is a start considering the initial ban was only supposed to be temporary. And that came from the Ministers at the time himself when I spoke with him but then he was replaced and thus the ban stayed in effect. Guess it is an election year for sure! Time to undo all of the ignorant policies put in place… if only people could be screened before having children! That would assist with so many of this islands problems.

  9. Southampton Resident says:

    And what about all the German Shepherds, etc. that are already here? Who will police these regulations regarding the keeping of restricted dogs?

  10. Michael says:

    As long as any breed is banned simply for the fact that it is a “breed” this is still a backwards and uneducated law. It is a band-aid. Punish dog owners, not dog breeds. It is as ignorant and ineffective as all laws that prohibit anything based on what something is born as.

  11. Triangle Drifter says:

    Meanwhile dogs looking for good homes are literally dying at the SPCA because Bermudians simply must try to outdo each other by having a purebred dog to be kept for nothing else but a spoilt family pet.

    We have a pit/lab mix from the SPCA. Could not ask for a nicer dog.

  12. Oh well says:

    Welldone Mr. Bean now I think its time for a dog park for owners who want to socialize their dogs offleash. Its not very expensive to do. There various parks and plots of land that Government can enclose to allow dogs to run offleash ie. Spanish point Park, Admiralty House, Penhurst Park, South Side, Ferry reach, Warwick Park, Parts of Warwick longbay, to name a few.With all the beaches and parks we do have in Bermuda they could set aside 1 for dogs and their pet owners. ;) It doesn’t have to be a very big area, just enclosed. For the amount of dog owners and dogs its unfair they have nowhere to run offleash. With the hundreds of cats that run wild all over this island the dogs have nothing and risk being taken to the pound if caught.

  13. Wise Serpent, harmless dove says:

    Now, how about legislation regarding dog’s poop in public places vis-a-vis their handler!

    • Triangle Drifter says:

      Not a bad idea at all.

      I spend alot of time in US State Parks, National Parks & municipal parks with campgrounds. Dog owners are not permitted to let dogs off leash in any of them unless in a fenced in are for the purpose.

      In addition if your dog poops, you immediately pick it up.

      The laws are enforced as evidenced by the fact that it is extremely rare to see a dog loose or poop on the ground.

    • Railway says:

      Can we implement the same for horse poop in public places?? Ever tried to dodge the piles of that crap on the railway trails? Not easy and not pleasant.

  14. CheapSkate says:

    Finally! Just Put stiffer fines in place for Azzholes who mistreat animals… Better still put them in a cage for a few months.

  15. CheapSkate says:

    Thank you Mr. Bean…

  16. smh says:

    Man scrap that prohibited list! Pitbulls are beautiful loving dogs, it is just that many of these young idiot boys own them for the wrong reasons and give them a dangerous reputation!

  17. Datbye says:

    Ok here we go, i know people are not going to like what i have to say but o well.

    First of all, i had all type dogs and animals from guinea pigs, chickens,dogs,cats and so on.

    My Opinion is that every dog in the above list besides the shepards and a few of the bull dogs breeds,should be banned from the island. None of them are family dogs. Shepards and Some of the Bull dogs breeds are great as family and guard dogs.

    I for one am tired of the reports of people getting attack from these dogs, be it on the beach or just walking in thier area where they live. And some on thier own property.

    All dogs should have to be tagged by law, to link them with the owner or owners so they can be charged accordly incase of an attack or incase for some reason the dog gets lost. Any dog not found with one should be put down.

    Im tired of it, most dog breeders are not worrying about what or where the dogs are after they sell them.

    In closing owners of these dangerous dogs please be responsable, i dont want to have to kill anyones dog that i feel is a threat to me or my family cause i will.

    Have a good and safe New Years Bermuda.

    P.S. sorry for any Grammar mistakes in a rush.

    • smh says:

      You claim you’ve had all types of dogs and animals and then say that none of the dogs above are family dogs? As far as I am concerned whatever dog I own is a part of my family. And from previously owning a Doberman and Rottweiler myself I will have to disagree with your comment that they are not family dogs.

      You cannot ban dogs because their owners decide that they want to train them to behave in a dangerous manner! One of my mates daughters got attacked by his Golden Retriever, does that mean the Government should ban them to? Yes he was a beautiful dog, trained well but animals will be animals and they are unpredictable creatures. That is why owners need to make sure they train them the best that they can to avoid bad behavior.

      And how dare you say that dogs without a tag and gets lost should be put down? You are so damn cruel! I hope one comes bites you in the a** just for saying that!

      • Datbye says:

        OK first off i said most not all,
        Sec. yes any dog can and will attack anything or anyone but stats show around the world that dogs such as Doberman and Rottweiler are not the be family dogs to be trusted around family eg babies or kids. As also i did say owners of they dogs and i add any dogs please be resposible. Make sure they are well kept taken care of and loved any Animal for that matter.

        SMH i had a Parrot well mannered and all, but it got started to get Jealous og my new born, i quickly gave it to a good home.

        All im saying is Fam.and public Safety First dont just get dogs or any animal for and not take care of them.

        Its a responsiblty.

  18. Daku says:

    Thank you Minister Bean for letting common sense prevail. Also it is a wise decision to keep the committee together, as we all know that for any successful implementation, there must be a period of monitoring and data collection to evaluate and report on the outcomes.

  19. MinorMatters says:

    …and how does this study help to eradicate the crime problems we are experiencing?

  20. MinorMatters says:

    …could we “do more” relevant work “with less” distractions such as this?

  21. Errin Butterfield says:

    First I would like to commend the minister for taking this step and having the courage,unlike his predecessors, to face this ongoing issue. Although something needed to be done its clear that this change in policy in my opinion was done for both political reasons and personal favours it would be nice for the facts and history on this issue to be shown to the public so that everyone can see what was and is still going on. Based on some of the people on the dog committee and their personal needs who are influential I would have been shocked,to say the least, if certain breeds had not been granted a favour and more so if other breeds that remain on the prohibited list had been been granted the same personal favour. Given the benefit maybe the whole process wasn’t completely thought through, surely statistics on dog attacks(locally and overseas) could not have been used to determine how they reached their decisions one needs to just google it and you will see.Using statistics there are dogs that remain on the prohibited list that have caused less – far less damage to peolpe and animals than dogs that have been moved from the prohibited list( I wonder). Was this a completely fair procees? Were all breeds represented? Did some breeds have a priority over others? I am just asking.
    The good thing about this is it is a start and I commend the minister well done.As a dog enthusiats myself I am happy for those people who have a chance to own the dog of their choice and feel sorry for those who still can’t have their choice of dog. For those of you that are in the dog community and are suppose to be dog lovers,enthusiats and have the best interest at heart all breeds but have ulterior motives and/or let your personal issues and views of other people cloud your thinking and allow you to unfair to them and/or certain breeds it’s sad and I feel sorry for you that you can’t get over your own issues. Now that some of you have what you want it’s time for you back off or do the right thing for the betterment of the dog community as a whole( you know who you are).It’s past time for the education needed to be put out freely to the public. To everyone have a Happy and safe NewYear!