Two Town Halls To Be Held On Dog Regulations

October 6, 2017 | 9 Comments

Speaking in the House of Assembly today [Oct 6], Minister of Home Affairs Walton Brown provided an update about the work being done to “progress amendments to the Dogs Act 2008 to improve the care and management of Bermuda’s dogs,” saying that the Government plans to hold town halls to get public input.

Minister Brown said, “The focus for much of this debate, however, has been on how to best manage problematic breeds, such as the ‘pitbull’ and associated controversial breed specific policies. The challenge continues to be in finding the right balance between the desire to have one’s dog of choice and ensuring public safety.

“As a consequence, there is a need to develop a system of management that is practical, enforceable and provides a robust regulatory framework for dogs.

“A number of key stakeholder groups have helped pave a way to a solution by identifying key issues, priorities and potential solutions. Consultation to date includes submissions from the Canine Advisory Committee [CAC], The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals [SPCA], and The Bermuda Veterinary Association. The CAC has reached out to groups such as Punish the Deed not the Breed and Fetch Fido.

“The Department of Environment and Natural Resources will be conducting two town hall meetings next week to discuss the issues and recommendations and to get public input.

“The first meeting will be held at 6:00-8:00 pm on Tuesday 10th October 2017 at the Anglican Cathedral Hall. The second will be held at the same time on Wednesday 11th October at the Bermuda Aquarium Museum and Zoo.

“Our aim must be to develop a sustainable approach to canine management. I encourage members of the public to attend these meetings and share their concerns and proposals.”

The Minister’s full statement follows below:

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to update this Honourable House about the work being done to progress amendments to the Dogs Act 2008 to improve the care and management of Bermuda’s dogs.

Mr. Speaker, The issues of how to best care for, manage and control dogs has been raised in this Honourable House on numerous occasions. Issues debated have included how to manage illegal breeding, animal abuse and neglect, and more effective methods of enforcement.

The focus for much of this debate, however, has been on how to best manage problematic breeds, such as the “pitbull” and associated controversial breed specific policies. The challenge continues to be in finding the right balance between the desire to have one’s dog of choice and ensuring public safety.

As a consequence, there is a need to develop a system of management that is practical, enforceable and provides a robust regulatory framework for dogs.

Mr. Speaker, the Dogs Act 2008 succeeded the Dogs Act 1978 and was meant to introduce many positive enhancements. The 2008 Act, however, never became operational because of challenges with potentially weaker enforcement on some crucial aspects, such as breeding of dogs. Once amended, the Dogs Act 2008 and new accompanying regulations will provide the means necessary to best manage the island’s canines.

Mr. Speaker, a number of key stakeholder groups have helped pave a way to a solution by identifying key issues, priorities and potential solutions. Consultation to date includes submissions from the Canine Advisory Committee [CAC], The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals [SPCA], and The Bermuda Veterinary Association. The CAC has reached out to groups such as Punish the Deed not the Breed and Fetch Fido.

Mr. Speaker, the input received shows a broad consensus between these groups and has allowed for the development of a sound “road map” of proposals.

The resulting recommendations fall broadly into three categories:

  • 1. Improving the general care of dogs which will reduce animal abuse and neglect.
  • 2. Creating a better regulatory framework that will protect the public and the wellbeing of dogs by promoting more responsible ownership of dogs; while allowing for a consultative based process for sound and consistent decision making relating to dog breeds.
  • 3. Developing better compliance and enforcement tools to ensure that members of the public who do not comply with the provisions of the legislation are punished; while at the same time minimizing costs to the public purse.

Mr. Speaker. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources will be conducting two town hall meetings next week to discuss the issues and recommendations and to get public input.

The first meeting will be held at 6:00-8:00 pm on Tuesday 10th October 2017 at the Anglican Cathedral Hall. The second will be held at the same time on Wednesday 11th October at the Bermuda Aquarium Museum and Zoo.

Mr. Speaker. Our aim must be to develop a sustainable approach to canine management. I encourage members of the public to attend these meetings and share their concerns and proposals.

Their input will conclude the public consultative process and allow the Government to shape the new legislative framework.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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Comments (9)

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  1. jaden says:

    town hall meetings on everything no leadership afraid to make decisions pandering to the peeps ,been there done that tick tick tick 100 days

  2. Rocky5 says:

    Simple solution – allow banned breeds in – $1,000.00/year licence fee + owners have to carry minimum $250,000 liability insurance. Breeders licence $10,000. Non compliance $20,0000 fine each offense.

    • Smoke & Mirrors says:

      I must say, I like that idea in principle. The problem with it is:

      a) someone with lots of money can, for arguments sake, own 5 pitbulls and paying that money without blinking an eye. They can also buy the insurance without a second thought. If those dogs escape (like they do from time to time) and maul or kill someone’s child, the insurance accept the liability and the owner has complied with the law. What now. If that was your child or grandchield that was mauled, deformed or dead , would you be okay with it.

      Walton Brown, for f’s sake, move on to more pressing problems. If someone is a dog lover, they can love another breed. If not , move overseas, or get over it. I love Lamborghinis and shooting guns and would love to have one. However, I understand why it is a bad idea to allow the public easy access to these items just because they want them. I also understand that I can’t always get things my way and I adapt.

      Mr. Brown, if you believe that we should all get what we want and all dog breeds are safe, will you also be willing to be held responsible if someone in my family is attacked by one of these breeds. I have stiches and so does my cousin from a brutal and unprovoked attack. I have healed and moved on but my cousin relives that attack and nightmare every time she sees a pit-bull.

      Mr. Brown, sometimes it is better to be unpopular and know that you did the right thing for the country, than it is to be adored by your voters because you gave them everything they wanted, even though it was not in the best interest of the people.

  3. sage says:

    How about laws? Guy starves and tortures a dog and gets a $200 fine and 5 year ban from keeping dogs? Just passing a car ‘third laning’ is a $800 fine. A review of all convictions for animal abuse/cruelty (there aren’t many) will show a pattern of manifestly inadequate sentencing.

  4. Thief says:

    Keep the dog ban. The banned breeds are dangerous and we are better off and safer without them altogether.

  5. Izzypop says:

    I own a staffie. Has teeth like razors. Nicest dog you ever want to meet or be around. He’s restricted
    Two months ago was walking past a chihuahua and bit on the leg and the damage looked like my staffie did it
    The banned dogs should be removed and put on a restricted list with heavy license and rules.
    No dog should be banned

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