Opinion: Starling On Ending The PitBull Ban

December 16, 2014

[Opinion column written by Jonathan Starling]

The pit-bull ban, or to be exact the prohibition on certain breeds of dogs [there are actually ten prohibited breeds, twelve if you include ‘wolf’ and ‘wolf hybrid’] is one of those pieces of legislation in Bermuda that I think can properly be called examples of ‘panic policies’.

These are laws or policies that have been implemented in a knee-jerk reaction, usually in the aftermath of a well-popularised event and the resulting social or moral panic.

Such policies aren’t evidence-based but reactionary-based. And more often than not they end up being counter-productive are lead to new problems. Along with the pit-bull ban I think the knife laws and the call for a public sex offenders registry [more on that later], or calls to reintroduce corporal and capital punishment, fall into the general category of such panic policies.

Breed-specific legislation, such as the prohibited breeds policy in Bermuda, quite simply doesn’t work. For one thing, it’s almost impossible to properly identify whether a particular dog is truly of a prohibited breed – relying solely on physical appearance is problematic, and DNA testing expensive and time-consuming.

The reliance on visual cues for the prohibited dogs list – which we generally rely on in Bermuda for enforcing this policy – raises a question of whether the policy is in line with the fundamental principles of due process by resorting to an overly subjective basis, which is open to arbitrary and discriminatory application.

Additionally, the ban seems a waste of resources [and open to abuse in terms of invasion of privacy, in as much as it allows forced entry and even seizure of private property] which would be better applied to dealing with dangerous dogs at a behavioural level rather than a merely subjectively visual one.

Dog wardens still need to deal with dangerous dogs outside of the prohibited breeds, while also wasting resources targeting dogs that may or may not be dangerous solely on how they look. Breed-specific legislation seems inescapably an inefficient, costly, difficult to enforce and subjective policy with questionable results.

Perhaps more problematic, the policy forces owners of these breeds underground, which leads to inbreeding [which can contribute to aggression] and social isolation, where the dogs simply aren’t socialised on how to interact properly with humans and other dogs.

Both of these instances increase the risk of these dogs becoming dangerous – not because their breeds are inherently dangerous, but because they’ve been made so through being forced underground by these discriminatory laws.

And beyond the basic infringement of property rights, breed-specific policies cause unintended hardship for responsible owners of dogs that happen to be subjectively judged as being on the prohibited list.

Even the restricted breed category – where certain breeds are allowed provided certain infrastructure is in place [fencing, cages, etc] leads to discrimination on the basis of wealth, with only those who can afford such infrastructure allowed these breeds, penalising the less well off – which seems inherently unfair.

A better approach to dealing with dangerous dogs would be to repeal the prohibited breeds policy and rewrite our dog laws in a breed-neutral way, focusing on behaviour, training and education. Revised dog laws should include:

  • Enhanced enforcement of dog license laws, requiring all dog owners to complete a dog training course [we have to take tests to operate vehicles; the same should apply for owning a dog].
  • Adequate fees to augment animal control budgets, including adequate fines for failing to license a dog over three months of age or failure to spay or neuter a dog without holding a breeding permit – these fines can be used to help fund animal control and to help fund low-cost sterilisation programs.
  • Enhanced enforcement of leash laws.
  • A focus on the behaviour of a dog rather than the breed [making exceptions for common puppy behaviours that should not be deemed as evidence of dangerousness]. This should involve a series of graduated penalties including fines, muzzling, advanced training, behavioural intervention/socialisation, adult supervision and owner education. In cases where a dog seriously injures or kills another animal, or injures a human, or a qualified behaviourist evaluates that the dog and determines it poses a substantial risk of such behaviour, euthanasia.
  • Chaining or tethering – and unreasonable confinement when not chained or tethered – should be prohibited as animal abuse if the chaining or tethering exceeds an hour.
  • An educational awareness campaign in the schools and the media on the appropriate care, training and supervision of dogs should be conducted, including education on how to react in the presence of dogs in order to minimise the risk of eliciting an attack response [running tends to trigger such an attack instinct in dogs, as does direct eye contact].

- Jonathan Starling

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Comments (98)

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  1. Sandgrownan says:

    Or IQ test the dog owner. Below 100, you don’t get to have a dog.

    • Black Soil says:

      If you want to see “panic” JS, try watching your dog getting ripped to shreds by a pit bull. Banning the pit bull (and other dogs traditionally used by ***holes) makes as much sense as banning bladed articles or guns. Remembers it’s not the bladed articles or guns that hurt people. The prohibited dog bans is only common sense…and to think that “you know better” is another example of your arrogance. The problem with today is that exercising common sense isn’t seen as cool anymore…it’s more seen as being an ***hole. Therein lies our problem. There are FAR more breeds of dogs OFF the banned list than I care to imagine. If you (or anyone) cannot find satisfaction with that list, then I question what your intentions are if not to use the dog in an untoward fashion.

      • Karma Chameleon says:

        Mr. Starling,

        My son wants a BOA (snake) because he owned one in University in the USA. Both he and I are very responsible and have never been in trouble with the law. The breed on its own, is not venomous or dangerous, and we promise to keep it in a cage at all times! Should we be allowed to have one? How would you feel if it got out by mistake (they do happen) and killed your cat, dog, or child? We hear all the time that the breed is misunderstood and its the owners that are the problem. That might be true, but I feel much better knowing that my former ,irresponsible, abusive, and crazy neighbor can no longer have pitbulls! Ever been attacked by one!? If you had (or your child had) you would feel differently.

        You can’t always get what you want! That is life my friend! If you are a dog over, you will learn to love another breed.

        • Man of the earth says:

          A boa? Im assuming you are referring to a boa constrictor as the term boa is used to described varying species of non-venomous, non present heat pit constrictors. I have worked with many snakes both venomous and non and are by far my favorite creature, but sadly there is no room for any of those species on this island as we simply cannot allow people to own a animal that even in the most secure housings can escape and potentially wreak havoc on our native wildlife that have little or no defense against a predator they have never encountered before. As with pitbulls, snakes sadly share the same bad rap and are misunderstood. Now the domestic dog has been created BY MAN, it was our jobs that needed doing that they had filled the space from hunting to companionship. Sadly there was a dark area for mans best friend as they had been pitted against bulls, bears, and other dogs for sheer bloodsport. Even though these animals were BRED not TRAINED to fight they must never bite a human for if done in the ring the animal would be removed (losing the fight in the process) and be destroyed for being a threat to man, the OPPOSITE of what the dog is intended to be. This breed was adored by man it was in the white house, was considered a nanny dog and the only breed to dawn the cover of time magazine, where it has all gone wrong is in simple BSL (breed specific legislation) when a dog is deemed “illegal” the market value plummets as the risks involved are too great thus resulting in a normal pure breed going from $1500-3000 drop as far as $500-800. This creates a wealth of problems from animals being weaned far to early, to the wrong crowd making a impulse buy because the animal is so cheap as compared to ordinary breeds. Once in the owners hands and the nostalgia has worn off the animal becomes a lawn ornament living on a chain with minimal socialization and inadequate care resulting in a plethora of health and psychological aliments that do nothing but hinder the dogs trust with man or his fellow beast which when the poor animal does break loose makes a decision that could cost it or another pet their life. To combat this issue is no simple feat they have truly no idea how far this inbreeding has spiraled out of control with high tension and aggression being prevalent as well as a plethora of health ailments due to the lack of diversified genetics leading to under slung jaws, bowed legs and even shortened tails. I love this breed and its not as simple as find another, this simple breed of dog out of the hundreds of species I have seen and worked closely with stand tall above all others, the connection man shares with dogs cannot be replicated or simply expressed, I understand over 90% of current pit owners are not a just fit for ANY DOG let alone pits this shouldn’t result in having the breed banned all together. It’s high time we create a plan of controlling the out of control underground trade and start implementing a proper breeding regiment to allow fresh blood to appropriate and responsible breeders and restrict breeding solely to these individuals that understand temperament and genetics, as a precaution to unwanted breeding all offspring should be spayed or neutered unless a breeders permit is applied for in advance just as any other breed. For anyone who thinks this problem is already under control your living in la la land, over the years through my experiences with helping owners that simply cant afford food or medical treatment but still want the animal I have the obligation to help the animal as its not their fault, but I am sick and tired of seeing this problem grow, it is not hindering the aggression and breeding of this breed but making it worst! Allow the people that truly understand the problem and have seen it first hand handle the correction process because the current legislation is doing more harm then good, for when injustice becomes law rebellion becomes our duty.

      • Pete M. says:

        I understand that you’re trying to stress a point that safety is paramount to the community when it comes to dog ownership, black soil. Obviously it’d be unfair to dog owners of all breeds if pitbull breeds (you said pitbull in a singular sense, this in itself is false. The term “pitbull” is a blanket statement used to qualify up to 25 different breeds at once. It isn’t just 1 breed.) were unbanned, and then pitbull owners were irresponsible and let their dogs run loose to possibly hurt yours. I rescued my pitbull and while she Is friendly with people, babies, kids, and dogs her size and bigger, she does not get along with little dogs, so a run In with a little dog would turn tragic if I didn’t obey my towns dog leash laws, which apply to all dogs. Wouldn’t it be smarter to put strict leash laws in place to protect owners and other dogs instead of banning 25 breeds without proper genetic testing? When someone commits a crime with a gun or bladed article, do you suggest the owner gets off free, and ban knives and firearms across the board? Or do you hold the owner accountable? Currently in many countries, pitbull dogs make up for 70% of dogs in shelters. This means that these dogs put a huge strain on shelters, which means tax payers too! Wouldn’t it be wiser to allow these dogs be owned by responsible owners, require strict leash laws to protect you, your pet, the pitbull owner and his pet, and fine violators of the law to bring in government revenue, all while taking strains off shelters so they can in turn save more animals and euthanize fewer all while reducing tax payer cost? Just food for thought. I rescued my pit mix because she was the longest tenured resident at my shelter, and I love the breed. For all their faults, they’re loving, loyal, intelligent, strong and agile dogs. Mine is calm and thinks she’s a big lapdog, and fairly obedient, sometimes haha. Isn’t that what anyone wants from a family pet?

  2. Accurate says:

    I believe Mr. Starling pines for a world where all laws and regulations are adhered too simply by their being spoken.

    The real world has people doing everything in their power to ignore and flout laws that they feel don’t apply to them. No amount of “enhanced enforcement” short of setting up a ‘Dog Police Force’ of similar proportions to the BPS would make the slightest difference to the behavior of people whose ignorance – willful or not – produces potential child killers out of mans best and oldest friend.

    The banned species list is made up of animals that because of known physiological or behavioral propensities constitute a potentially greater risk of harm to our populace. No it’s not entirely fair but it’s what we know how to do.

    If there were no pitbull type dogs in Bermuda then the chance of being injured by a pitbull type dog in Bermuda would be zero – fact.

    • sage says:

      So Rottwiellers, Ridgebacks, Mastiffs or Malinois never injure people?

      • serengeti says:

        Yes. They’re on the list of banned / restricted breeds. They’re dangerous.

        • North West says:

          Correction. No they are not banned!They are restricted.

          • serengeti says:

            That’s what I said. Depends which specific breed. Some are banned, some restricted.

            • Black Soil says:

              People need to understand that someone didn’t just dream up the banned and restricted list. The list came about by a HUGE ABOUT OF POLICE DATA. Bad people LOVE the dogs that are banned. Just like bad people LOVE guns (makes the killing easier). JS has simply shown (yet again) what an arrogant fool his is.

              • Dat_Guy says:

                @black soil… Bad people love dogs that are banned really that’s so stereotypical it couldn’t be at all that people would rather spend 800-1000 on a loyal obedient child loving dog than 3000 on a “safe breed” I have two pit bulls that love children love to play. Quick story walking one of my dogs while a woman was walking her Doberman (legal by the way) when the dog saw me and rocko and began pulling the woman she of course lets go this dog charged and bit my dog I commanded my dog to sit and stay while I beat the Doberman for him why because if I would have told rocko bite blissfully ignorant people like yourself would have turned the story into vicious pit bull attacks woman’s Doberman.. These so called bad people want these dogs because they are cheap easy to get unfortunately. 90% of these so called bad people also don’t know how to properly care and socialize this special breed of dog so please stop infecting more people with your apparent abundance of ignorance

                • Dat_Guy says:

                  @ black soil
                  Before u say more false information you might want to check out the ATTS temperament testing of hundreds of dog breeds I repeat hundreds. The pit bull was second to only the golden retriever meaning your Labrador and boxers (safe dogs) will turn on you and become vicious with you and other dogs before a pit bull have a great night

                  • Black Soil says:

                    Dat Guy…your point that “these so called bad people want these dogs because they are cheap easy to get” is REDICULOUS. That’s like saying bad people like switchblades because they are cheap and easy. Secondly, your point that labs are only second to pit bulls (presumably in bites which were involved in criminal proceedings) is pure rubbish.

                    • empnort says:

                      @blacksoil: dat_guy is referring to the temperament test administered by the American Temperament Test Society, which tests many, many breeds of dogs. granted, they fail to have a viable sample size for many breeds, but they have tested hundreds of pitbulls (“Staffordshire Terriers”) and pit bulls routinely come out with flying colors. see for yourself here: http://atts.org/breed-statistics/statistics-page7/

                      the numbers for 2013 have pitbulls passing with > 90%, whereas many other common breeds are somewhere in the 80-85% range

                    • Pete M. says:

                      He’s right black soil. In the USA 30% of our dogs have some sort of pitbull breed in them, so obviously when the population density is so skewed, there will be more dog bites from pitbull breeds. If you look at dog bites per capita, the number changes drastically.

                    • wantwant cantget says:

                      pitbulls are for sale as we speak at the aforementioned price and available to any jack*** who can scrounge up 500 – 800 bucks.
                      I on the other hand bought my first legal “Pure breed” and forked out 5 grand :(
                      the average Joe, or **shole as you call him, will do the maths on which dog he’s gonna buy quick!
                      Dat Guy has a quite valid point.
                      as you reference to switchblades, hmmm, cant recall when the last time I’ve seen one yet alone someone selling em
                      trying to get the the

                • Karma Chameleon says:

                  @Dat_Guy, sorry but your Pit Bulls are the exception and not the rule. You have obviously put a lot of time and effort into training and loving your PitBulls ad I commend you for that. However, the sad truth is that most dog owners (OF ANY BREED) do not properly train their dogs.

                  Because of this I would say that 60-70% of all dogs do not respond properly to their owners commands. As someone that has been bitten by two Min Pins, a beagle and a Pitbull I can tell you there is no comparison! The Min Pins, and Beagle attacked me while I was visiting a friend and walked in their yard. The Pitbull attacked me (and my dog) while I was walking my dog in the Arboretum. It broke away from its owner after they couldn’t hold it. Luckily he was able to grab the leash again and eventually pull it off me before it killed me. An innocent child attacked by those two min pins would have a chance to get away. That same child attacked by a Pit Bull would likely be severely injured and possibly killed!

                  You can not be with your dog all the time and mistakes do happen. They do escape, they do break free, gates are left open! Are you willing to be held accountable if your dog kills or injures someone!

              • Is What It Is says:

                @Black Soil…. That isn’t how they came up with the list. They did pretty much dream it up because there are a number of breeds on the banned list that the BDA police and GOV have no record of injuring an animal or person. Plus there are a number of breeds that are not on the list that they do have on record for injuring another animal or person. I have four different breeds that they have on record for doing major damage to people but not one of them are banned. This whole banned breed is fraudulent but you will believe it anyway.

      • Regina says:

        I haven’t heard of any and can’t find any on record. And neither have I ever heard of golden retrievers, labs or great danes attacking any one or another animal…..JUST PITS. So….hmmmm….maybe there’s a reason for this law?

        • bermpity bermp bermp says:

          Golden retrievers are responsible for most dog attacks in the United States. Why? Because they are loyal to their owners like pibbles. The reason why most dog attack statistics are skewed towards pitbulls is because the statisitcs are taken from the media. What makes for a vetter story? Sallys golden retriever biting someones leg or Deuntays pitbull biting someones leg.

          Be open minded people. Any dog can attack and harm just like any human can.

          I think they need to do dog aggression tests which is what they are doing in San Francisco now after a 20 or so year old pitbull ban

          • serengeti says:

            From Jan 1 to Aug 13, 2014, there were 28 deaths in USA from dogs.
            71% of those deaths were inflicted by pitbulls, despite that breed comprising less than 4% of the dog population. They pitbulls killed someone, in the first 8 months this year, every 11 days, on average.
            Rottweilers and Bull Mastiffs were the next most lethal, each responsible for 7% of deaths.

            The stats are similar every year. During the years 2005-2013, pitbulls accounted for 63% of dogbite deaths in the USA, again despite accounting for less than 4% of the dog population. During that period rottweilers came second, with 12% of all dogbite related deaths.

            We all know that any dog can bite. The issue is the potential harm done by particular dogs. Most dogs won’t maim or kill you if they attack, but some will.

          • Sorry Sir says:

            “Any dog can attack and harm just like any human can.”

            Difference is, a large dog will send you to the hospital, or morgue, while a small dog attack would require nothing but a first aid kit.

            Yea, a baby could throw something at you and give you a bump on the head, but an adult can drive a knife right in your jugular.

          • Karma Chameleon says:

            Are there more retriever bites , maybe because there are many more retrievers? How do the numbers compare when you look at the numbers of each? Also what is the severity of those bites? As someone that has been bitten by a Pit and other dogs I can tell you there is a big difference.

            Most dogs bite and release in order to warn you. However, Pits tend to be more calculated as to where they bite, they lock in and then twist and tear! Sorry, your facts do not show the whole story!

    • PettyBDAthinking says:

      Well your last statement, its only obvious. Without guns there would be no gun violence. Without blacks, we wouldnt have black on black crime. No whites, no ku klux clan. But gueaa what there qould be still be violence in some other way. Ive encountered more aggressive breeds as Doberman Pincher, German Shepards, Labrador and even Chihuahua and we all know ankle biters are the worst!! I agree with these principles Mr Starling has introduced.

  3. Warwick says:

    Clearly Mr. Starling has never been in the horrific position of watching his beloved dog being attacked by a Pitbull.

    • serengeti says:

      …or watching a child having its face ripped off by a pitbull.

      Starling thinks banning pitbulls is ‘discriminatory’. And he thinks this can be addressed by ‘behavioral intervention’.

      It would be funny it is weren’t so ridiculous.

      • PettyBDAthinking says:

        Im sure you havent seen a childs face ripped off by a pitbull either, so come on be realistic

        • Politricks says:

          I have.

          The pitbull was under a picnic table when a toddler got under there the dog literally ripped half his face off.

          • Black Soil says:

            Dear Jonathan Starling. YES, it is discrimination banning pit bulls etc. YES, this is how a civilization works. THANK GOD you’re not the guy in charge!!!!

          • Karma Chameleon says:

            @PettyBdathinking, has maybe also forgotten about the innocent tourist that was attacked by a Pitbull at Admiralty house a few Summers ago. She was lucky to be alive!

        • serengeti says:

          Haven’t seen it myself, but children get killed by pittbulls. Regularly.

          • Bermy says:

            Children regularly get molested and killed by adults who should know better but I don’t see you on your soapbox wanting them banned!

            • JunkMonkey says:

              No, for them we recommend castration, and immediately afterwards being dumped overboard at Argus Bank! If they swim home the family of the abused will be waiting!

            • Stunned... says:

              at Bermy – ah, if the powers that be would approve a registry of sex offenders, those bast**ds would be BANNED. Try another argument please.

    • Micro says:

      And your point?

      Not all “pitbulls” are dangerous. Any dog can be deadly, even little ankle biters.

      • Accurate says:

        Really? Ankle biters deadly? I think what you mean is that any type of dog can be aggressive – even vicious – but only a few breeds are known to be aggressive to the point of being deadly (ie. attack and kill) to humans and other dogs. We know which types these are because we keep records and have compiled statistics.

        An ankle biter may indeed ‘bite my ankle’ thereby causing me some pain and suffering – it may even quite seriously bite a child requiring a hospital visit and some stitches. I’ve seen pitbull type dogs completely rip an ‘ankle biter’ to shreds and it is documented that these and the other select FEW banned breeds have killed humans in the most horrific manner imaginable- fact.

        • anklebiter says:

          so its ok for for a little dog to bite causing pain and suffering? yes a larger breed is going to do more harm,uhh cause its larger, but that is no reason to excuse the little ones. a bite is a bite. the little ones should be fenced in and kept on a leash as well!

          • Sorry Sir says:

            Most ‘ankle biters’ are fenced in. Typically it’s to protect it from larger dogs or from running away. It’s far more easier to fence in a smaller dog than a large dog that can jump over 6 foot fences with general ease and most people don’t want an unsightly tall fence surrounding their house.

            Some people cage them up in small kennels to keep them from getting free. A lose lose situation for the dog and it’s owner.

            • anklebiter says:

              I disagree, MOST ankle bitters aren’t fenced in. some yes but certainly not most. Yes fences are unsightly, as is my 6 foot fence (also covered so no jumping out), but i do what i need to to have the breed i want. my point is, if one wants to own a dog they should be required to put in the proper fencing before being allowed to take a dog home. Lets not pick on one breed or the other but put in regulations for All dog owners. If a fence is to ugly to put up… don’t have a dog!

        • serengeti says:

          Exactly. This is exactly the point.

  4. JP in BDA says:

    This guy is on a different planet! Did he not read the horrific story from a couple of weeks ago when a lady had her 2 dogs attacked by another dog. The list of dangerous dogs needs to be increased not decreased. How would Mr.Starling feel if Pitbull’s were taken off the list and then one attacked a child?

    • Family Man says:

      He would probably question what the child did to provoke the attack.

    • Micro says:

      What if it wasn’t a pitbull? Are we going to ban that breed too?

      • Karma Chameleon says:

        Yes! Can you not learn to live with another breed. Must you always get what you want even at the expense of others. Can you not learn to love something else other than a pitbull? Get over it!

    • PettyBDAthinking says:

      Who stated they were pitbulls!!

    • A King says:

      Get your facts straight… that was a BOXER! NOT A PITBULL!! Don’t pretend like they are all the same…

    • Bermy says:

      That story your referring to was a Boxer, not a Pit. Boxers aren’t banned in any way. So you just further proved the point, all dog breeds can be dangerous if put in a dangerous situation or not providing correct training.

      No matter what breed of dog you have, there are endless external factors that could cause aggressive reactions, and endless cases of well raised and trained “pit bulls” who have been phenomenal.

  5. Ord Road says:

    Pitbulls are not ALL agressive. I have seen some killer yorkies in my days! Speaking from expereince and have taken my dog to many dog training seminars! He is not an agressive dog, and is infact a huge cuddle buddy! IT ALL DEPENDS ON THE TIME AND EFFORT YOU TAKE TO TRAIN AND RAISE YOUR “DOG”. #dontbullymybreed

    • Rhonnie aka BlueFamiliar says:

      I’m afraid that you’re one type of owner that is a problem in owning this sort of agressive breed.

      1. Bad natured yorkies? Yup. But give their size and bite strength, there’s only so much damage they can do, and they can be relatively easily pulled off.

      2. My pitbull is not an agressive dog. Sorry, if he’s got the genetics of the breeds that make up the pitbulls, then yes, he’s an agressive dog. He might be under your control through training, and he might be wonderful with you and friends and family (yet another trait of this particular breed), it doesn’t mean that he isn’t aggressive, and won’t be aggressive to an innocent stranger he might perceive as a threat, or another animal he might perceive as either threat or prey.

      3. While time and effort to socialise and train an aggressive breed is to be commended, don’t ever think that you have an animal 100 percent under control. You’re not. Nothing can change the breeding of the animal, except breeding, and I have to ask, do you know your dog’s bloodline?

      Please understand that I am not against the breed, I love them. I also love aggressive breeds, but my eyes are open to their genetics, their history and the limitations we as people, with training, have over the inherent nature of an animal we created.

      I’m just saying that by believing ‘not my dog’ you’re letting your guard down. I can hope that you never experience what can happen in a moment’s slip.

    • Sorry Sir says:

      I know right. Those yorkies are crazy. Once I had to use a bandaid to cover the cut it made on my ankle. An horrific experience, indeed.

  6. bluebird says:

    A warning to all the young people in Bermuda,please pay attention to mr starling as one day he would like to be your Dictator.

    • PettyBDAthinking says:

      The young people should be more aware of you and letting dumb rub off of you onto them. Cause thats exactly how you’re acting, Dumb and close minded.

    • Terry says:

      A lonely attention seeking Communist Marxist Stalinist.

  7. sebring says:

    Hey starling! I am one who thinks all life should have a place !In my Warwick neighbor hood there is a large amount of banned dogs and many are very well trained and the owners although only know them by sight do a great job handling them !how ever it is important to know that the dogs can scape and sometimes the owner is not around so the possibility of a live changing event rises with one of the banned breeds versus an incident were a terrier or golden retriever are involved !many of these dogs are already here and are not going no where ! so in my opinion an amnesty should happen that all dogs that are already here be licensed and insurance example land owner have protection if the dog bites someone! renters should have a policy before licensing a dog and the dog must be fixed to avoid from reproducing any dog found out after the certain date to be put down, as per the owners negligence !registered dog owners of banned breeds should have an area where their dogs can run free and are not a danger to anyone else! I for one do not take my dogs out near my house simply to cut down on an incident as it once happened already no fault of the owner but as with any dog , they will bark at another dog even if it’s a friendly bark!

    as part of the licensing regime one can ask for the owner not having a criminal record before issuing a license as well as incident free dog and owner !

  8. PettyBDAthinking says:

    I dont know how many of these comments have come from what ethnicities, but certain races how would/do you feel to be judged for everything that your race does? Is it right to compile all behaviours and categorize people like this? But for these animals its ok, im sure. Ban the deed not the breed. But im sure nobody wants to look at it like this

    • Rhonnie aka BlueFamiliar says:

      On the surface, what you say makes sense.

      But like many things, when you think them through, it’s a little silly.

      Like it or not, animals are bred to bring out certain traits. Strength, fight, guarding tendencies. Mix in breeders or the average pet owner who breeds their animals and don’t worry about the genetic traits of their animal or that of the other animal and you get animals that may strengthen less desired traits.

      People rarely have kids in order to strengthen a particular genetic trait, and it’s unlikely you’d then be able to convince your kids to follow the same breeding line. So you don’t get the multiple generations in one direction or another.

      Your analogy is, I’m afraid, too simple to hold weight.

  9. mike says:

    I am all for keeping the ban on pitbulls but I wonder why other breeds like Dobermans are restricted? They are no more dangerous that your little Pomeranian! As stated by another poster, it is all about the time and effort you put into training and raising your dog in a proper environment.

  10. Bermuda says:

    It’s a shame so many of these comments are so ignorant to think that Pit Bulls are only dangerous. It would be good to educate yourself on the topic before commenting. And reading media stories does not count.

    Here are some facts:
    According to the American Temperament Test Society (2010-2011), 804 American Pit Bull Terriers were tested and 695 passed. This means that 86.4% of Pit Bulls tested by the ATTS had a good temperament. Pit Bulls pass rating was above 121 other breeds of dogs, including Golden Retrievers!
    So should Golden Retrievers been on the banned list then and all of the other dogs that fall behind the Pit Bull?

    Golden Retriever = 84.9%
    Beagle =80.6%
    Bichon Frise =76.7%
    Chihuahua =71.1%
    Cocker Spaniel =81.9%
    Shih Tzu = 78%
    Yorkshire Terrier 82.5%

    Have you also taken into account that they are the most abused and mistreated dog? Would you be socialised if you were kept on a chain or box all of your life? Wake up Bermuda and realise our laws are outdated. Thank you Mr. Starling for trying to find a solution and giving ideas, not just spouting rubbish.

    • Accurate says:

      Perhaps you could enlighten us as to how many FATAL attacks on human beings – or even other dogs – can be directly attributed to chihuahuas, yorkies or even golden retrievers.

      You are spoiling your own argument and reenforcing mine in your last paragraph. We ban these animals precisely because it is possible for the ignorant and malicious to mistreat and thereby program them to be deadly.

      We have had to ban firearms for the same reason – it is too easy to use them as a deadly weapon.

      Listen – I love dogs and I’m amazed at how our 10,000 year experiment in selective breeding has produced what is no doubt mans best friend.
      I am realistic enough however to know that the few breeds we have produced to satisfy our need for blood sport have left these particular versions of our best friend with a tragic legacy of being aggressively attractive and trigger happy.

    • serengeti says:

      Interesting, but completely irrelevant.

  11. Navin Johnson says:

    For someone who lives in Scotland we thank you for your concern. Do you have a pit bull in Scotland?

  12. Rhonnie aka BlueFamiliar says:

    My final comment on this.

    The banned breed list has little to do with the dogs themselves being ‘bad’ or ‘dangerous’. It has far more to do with the likelihood of the animals being in the hands of people who are either unable or unwilling, intentionally or not, to fully take care of an animal with the size and known traits of those on the list.

    I always think about the couple who raised and trained and kept their animals to the best of their ability, but when one accidentally got loose it killed another dog and the put it down.

    They did all the right things, and one small slip somewhere and the pain it caused them, the other family, the dog that was killed and the dog that attacked as well.

  13. anklebiter says:

    I have a large restricted breed. I had to put up a fence around my yard to keep her. Dog wardens came to the house to approve the enclosure. She barks at people going by as she is protecting her property but has not ever shown aggression to anyone or other dog on the street. She has been socialized from a pup. now, further down the road is a small cutesy breed that attacked us as we were walking by his yard. My girl had to receive a stitch in her leg. My girl did not harm the other dog as i have trained her well, reacted quickly and pulled her back from a potential fight but the little one had already gotten a bite in then turned and ran. Had my dog not been well trained she would have easily ripped the little dog in half for biting her. Why is there not a law that all homes with dogs, regardless of breed, have gated yards! and forget the electric fencing, a lot of dogs will go right through.

    • Terry says:

      Dogs are a cultural thing.
      My neighbors have small dogs that are never walked and let outside just to sheet. And when they do walk them they never pick up.
      I feel sorry for the dogs and cats where I live.

      • anklebiter says:

        Terry, it’s such a shame, some people just shouldn’t have pets.

        • Outsider says:

          I agree, there needs to be more educating the public on animal rights and how to treat their pets, combined with the actual animal right laws been implemented. I’ve noticed dogs are often neglected in peoples back yards, restricted to chains or cages, resulting in perpetual barking. This is not a Pitbull problem, this is a people problem!

  14. lucky 7 says:

    Ok “tree hugger guy who complains about everything”….from no gaming referendum to pit bulls….seriously? You must be really bored….

  15. Steve Davis says:

    A 9-year (1979–88) study of fatal dog attacks in the United States found that dogs characterised as pit bulls were implicated in 42 of the 101 attacks where the breed was known.[32] A 1991 study found that 94% of attacks on children by pit bulls were unprovoked, compared to 43% for other breeds.[33] A 5-year (1989–94) review of fatal dog attacks in the U.S. determined that pit bulls and pit bull mixed breeds were implicated in 24 (29%) of the 84 deaths in which breed was recorded.[34]

    A 20-year (1979-1998) study by the American Veterinary Medical Association into fatal dog attacks on humans[35] concluded that “fatal attacks on humans appear to be a breed-specific problem (pit bull-type dogs and Rottweilers),” and that “pit bull-type dogs and Rottweilers were involved in more than half” (67%) of all the 238 recorded dog bite-related fatalities (DBRF) in the United States during that period, with pit bulls accounting for 66 deaths. They also wrote that:

    “It is extremely unlikely that they accounted for anywhere near 60% of dogs in the United States during that same period and, thus, there appears to be a breed-specific problem with fatalities.”[35]
    A 15-year (1991–2005) review of dog attack fatalities investigated by the Kentucky Medical Examiner determined that pit bulls were implicated in 5 of the 11 fatal attacks (45%).[36] Another 15-year (1994–2009) review of patients admitted to a Level I Trauma Center with dog bites determined that pit bulls were most often involved in these attacks: of the 228 patients treated, the breed of dog was recorded in 82 attacks, and of these, 29 (35%) of the attacks were by pit bulls.[37] In 45% of the attacks, the dog belonged to the victim’s family.[37]

    A 5-year (2001–05) review of dog attack victims admitted to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia determined that pit bull terriers were implicated in more than half of the bites where breed was identified. Of the 269 patients where breed was identified, 137 (51%) were attacked by pit bulls.[38] The authors wrote:

    “…the overwhelming number of bites involving pit bull terriers in this study and others certainly has some degree of validity when it comes to identifying bite-prone breeds. Pit bull terriers, German shepherds, and Rottweilers were the offending breeds implicated in our study, and have accounted for the majority of dog bites according to other investigators.”[38]
    A review of the medical literature found that pit bulls and pit bull cross-breeds were involved in 42–45% of dog attacks.[39] Fatalities were most often reported when children were attacked, with 70% of victims being under the age of 10.[39]

    Some other studies on the number of human deaths caused by dog bite trauma have surveyed news media stories for reports of dog-bite-related fatalities. This methodology is subject to potential errors, as some fatal attacks may not have been reported, a study might not find all relevant news reports, and the dog breed might be misidentified.[40]

    Courts in the United States[41][42] and Canada[43][44] have ruled that expert identification, when using published breed standards, is sufficient for the enforcement of breed-specific legislation.


  16. Decent Pet Owner says:

    I’m offended that people think i am an “a**hole” and a “bad person” for owning a pitbull. My dog is licensed, legal and friendly. Yes she will bark and come to attention if she thinks i am in danger, but she wont even chase a cat! I understand that there is a certain “opinion” on this particular breed but for people to jump to the conclusion that i or everyone that owns these dogs are substandard people is seriously ridiculous. I have a full time job, own a house and have a child. I work hard and have dicipline. Such overgenerizations should not be made, especially by people who are uninformed and refuse to be educated on this subject. All pitbulls need is a loving home with rules and discipline. Any responsible owner of ANY breed knows that what all dogs need. So do your children.

    • Stunned... says:

      if all y’all have so much time, resources and discipline to go through the lengths to have an animal that has the propensity to attack, maim or kill how about redirecting all of that goodwill to an at risk child in Bermuda? make a real difference. there are organizations that would welcome your involvement. but no, that would be suggesting too much…a bridge too far, because pet ownership is all about being selfish. it is about how that animal makes YOU feel good at the end of the day; it’s your surrogate child/lover/whatever. shaking my head at this twisted society.

      • Stunned... says:

        oh, yeah, the next time you’re in the supermarket picking up some pet food, think for just one nano of a second to remember that some child in Bermuda went to school without breakfast, perhaps without any lunch. If you do, please give the coalition for children charity a call to see how you can be more useful.

      • Decent Pet Owner says:

        Wow. I’m floored. Pet ownership is selfish… thats an interesting notion. There are many people in this world that cant have children so they embrase a four legged friends as their “child/ren.” I was waiting until i was married to have children so i got a couple dogs and a cat to fill the void. Obviously you have no idea what an animal adds to the quality of life for some people. When i get home and my “children” are happy to see me it helps me forget to horrible day i had. We all get to crawl in bed and watch tv for a while to help the stress melt away. I understand you have the right to an opinion but dont you think your opinion should be a little more educated? You should think about others before you speak on such a public basis.
        And just because i have animals dosen’t mean i dont help the needy. Honestly i dont see how one has anything to do with the other. Its like saying dont have children/animals just help others who did because they need help. i would never question if you help the needy children in our country. It’s your business and choice. hopefully since you are accusing me of not helping others; you are front and center helping others.

        • Stunned... says:

          You say: I was waiting until i was married to have children so i got a couple dogs and a cat to fill the void… When i get home and my “children” are happy to see me it helps me forget to horrible day i had…We all get to crawl in bed and watch tv for a while to help the stress melt away. ad nauseum

          I repeat: it is about how that animal makes YOU feel good at the end of the day; it’s your surrogate child/lover/whatever. shaking my head at this twisted society.

  17. Kristopher says:

    Why did I waste time reading this article. Foolishness.

  18. Ord Road says:

    Would it surprise you to learn that pit bulls used to be America’s darlings? Before the mid-80s, stories of pit bull attacks are practically non-existent. There is even some confusion over exactly which breed of dog is a pit bull — the definition includes the American pit bull terrier, the Staffordshire terrier and, at times, the bulldog. This confusion seems to have dogged the breed from the beginning, as there is some disagreement over the origin of pit bulls.

    Pitbulls are not dangerous they are just like every other dog it depends on the owner, if an owner does not pay attention to the dog and neglects the dog of course it is going to be aggressive. Just like any other breed, if you do see a dog that looks aggressive it is your job to be careful around it. I am the proud owner of a beautiful Staffordshire Terrier- (pitbull family) who means the world to me, I hate the stereo type that people like you and a lot of others put on this breed. I stand by my breed 110%, he will not attack UNLESS he or myself is threatened, and in that case he has every right to protect his owner.If someonenis coming to break in my house you better RUN!. He is fully trained and capable of anything that he has been trained to do!. you all need to watch PitBull & Parolees, theese dogs come from nothing, and fighting vicious dogs and this lady makes them into cuddly dogs that are looking for their Furrever homes. These dogs can be changed and people need to wake up to efforts of changing them. GERMAN shepherds are just as agressive, I KNOW (i got attacked by TWO). and they yet are not on the band list? Think about it..

  19. Stunned... says:

    why are we wasting so much energy on these life forms that hog the air, compete for resources – the billion dollar petr food industry while there are children in Bermuda who are desperately in need of a good home, nurturing and guidance even if only on a part=-time basis.

    when this society values people more than pets, wow, what a different society this could become.

    • Varied says:

      It is a bit telling that articles about cats of dogs get tons of views and comments, while issues affecting human beings don’t even get a once-over.

  20. Dan says:

    As someone who had to fight off a “pit bull” to save his own dog, I think the issue has always been the OWNERS of these hunting and fighting breeds.
    The “banned” breeds are bred with traits to fight and kill. We cannot deny that fact. Most stories of well cared for pit bulls sound like this: “Fluffy was always so calm and friendly with our family, I cannot understand why it suddenly turned on our neighbor’s dog…”. It “suddenly” turned because it is “designed” through breeding to do so.
    I had to wrestle a pit bull to the ground, punch it repeatedly, and bite it (twice) to firstly keep it from thrashing my dog, and then to try and get it to let my dog go. It finally did and was not concerned with me one bit- as I then had to kick it repeatedly in the ribs because it was jumping to try and bit my dog AGAIN. The owner was nowhere to be seen- a potentially (and obviously) very dangerous dog- unattended and unsupervised- much like leaving a loaded gun on a park bench. And yes, I know breeds and it was a “pit bull”.
    I would love to see real legislation where the owners of pit bull or similar breeds got a home visit (prior to licencing) to make sure the dogs were under control and could not wander off and kill another dog or even a child. I would also love to see a law that said if the dog was captured because it was unattended by the owner (after an attack) it would be destroyed without question, and the owner FINED. There is a responsibility in owning such a breed- it would be great if the owners who decried how their unpredictable and potentially violent breed is misrepresented would agree to such safety measures- I doubt they ever would, or that they would work to control and manage the behaviour of their calm and friendly pets.

  21. positivity says:

    Behavior over breed. I know of so called vicious breeds that are well trained, loving animals. Most of the time, the owners are the problem! If you were chained up outside day and night without human interaction, you might be aggressive too. We need proper laws on the care of animals not seizing and killing animals because they look like a certain breed. If you aren’t prepared to care for an animal, don’t get one!!!!!

  22. ignorance_is_not_bliss says:

    listen,listen…. nobody is saying the dogs don’t have potential to be dangerous.
    (if you climb into a house that doesn’t belong to you for example)
    But like any animal, with the right training and owner, pit bulls are no different from your other large breed dog. german shep, rotties, staffies, ect,
    there are no temperament tests done here for dog behavioral analysis, so you have perfectly safe loving pets
    being put down frequently.
    and euthanizing a perfectly healthy animal, is murder. no matter how you try to justify it.
    a dog is a dog, no matter what breed. there is no justification for murder or mass culls of pit bulls.
    and if you sit here and think the its okay to euthanize pitbull after pitbull regardless of nature.
    you have lost your soul. and if i hear one more non-sensical rant about drug dealers and specific kinds of owners that love the breed.. thats utter b.s… total crap… lots and lots of people on this island love and cherish that specific breed of dog.. and they all can’t be drug dealers and pimps…
    with the right regulations, there wouldn’t be a need to restrict my right to a best friend of any breed (except wolf, who needs a wolf? those can stay on)
    if muzzled, kept as indoor pets, allowed to be registered, and spayed, possibly pet insurance..

    pittbulls are loyal, loving, intelligent, dedicated & beautiful family pets,
    euthanasia is murder. no matter what your fear is, a blanket of murder does not solve anything.
    educate yourself on the bsl, and how effective it is before you throw your opinions around.

  23. 69SSRS says:

    We have had American Bull Dogs…banned. Cane Corso…banned…Staffordshire Terror…..restricted. NEVER a problem. Maybe next we need a Wolfhound!!

  24. Is What It Is says:

    Can someone answer a couple questions honestly for me? Seeing that the ban on pits has been in place for well over ten years, why is the population of young pit bulls still so strong in BDA? Seeing that the population is still so strong, why don’t we hear much about pit bull attacks in the media as much as we use to? The other breeds are still attacking other animals and people so why don’t we hear about attacks from the other breeds that aren’t banned?

    My opinion is this ban was originally an attack on a few individuals that turned into a big cover up. I say this partly because of what the Minister responsible for putting this ban in place admitted in a meeting with others. He admitted having no knowlage of any statistics on dog attacks in BDA. He also admitted implementing it due to the request of a certian small group of individuals.

    • Inner Peace says:

      Although the Pit Bull ban has been on the books for the last ten years, was only allowed to be enforced for the last two years. Since enforced, the Pit Bull population has dropped rapidly, along with attacks. We don’t hear of other breeds attacking people and pets because other breeds don’t attacking people and pets anywhere near the rate that Pit Bulls do. Pits Bulls are banned in many other places because of the danger they pose to the general public.

      • Is What It Is says:

        Inner Peace – I asked for an honest answer and that was not honest. To say that other breeds don’t attacking people and pets anywhere near the rate that Pit Bulls do, is not true. There are breeds that aren’t on the list that are read specifically to attack man. Chances of being bitten by these breeds are higher. I personally have been around lots of different pit bulls and have never been bitten by one, but I have been bitten by other breeds a couple times and some have tried without success. Also the pit bull population isn’t going anywhere.

        • Inner Peace says:

          In order to make public policy we need to expand our knowledge beyond our own limited personal experiences, “I never been bitten by a Pit Bull”. For instance, “I never fasten my helmet and I never been killed, so it’s safe”. Bermuda is a small place, so it is important to look at a larger population to see what Pit Bulls are really capable of. In our neighbour the US, a child has their face ripped off by a Pit Bull every week and Pit Bulls kill more people than all other breeds put together. Also in Bermuda, a place without rabies, mauling by Pit Bulls are much of a concern then minor bites from other breeds.

  25. benny says:

    Statistics regarding dogs mean little in such a case. Almost any dog can be trained to be a loving pet. What we need are statistics on the dog owners. Dogs need love. They are not supposed to be chained up outside all year round. They need veterinary check ups, a healthy diet, minor training in obedience and most importantly, affection. Until we can make sure that pitbulls and other dogs alike are being well treated, they should stay on the list.

  26. Ignorance_is_not_bliss says:

    Sigh… Opinions are like noses I guess, some peoples are ugly to look at. But we forgive them anyway.
    Any educated dog lover would know that the IRISH WOLFHOUND breed, is not unlike the pittbull breed. Persecuted due to
    Common perception.
    Educate yourselves before you persecute anything.
    Figure out if your opinions are fact based or if your just spouting irrelevant words…
    #fact. The Bsl in bermuda does not work, it’s a blanket ban designed to specifically persecute particular breeds without an educated cause.
    #fact. There are no temperment tests so saying the prohibited list is to protect the general public is rubbish if you let persistent offending dogs get away with aggressive behavior without testing for it.
    #fact. Euthanizing a healthy & good temperment dog is murder.
    #fact. The pitbull is the most popular dog on the island , hence it’s popularity in statistics.
    #fact. people, of all races, creeds, ect. Love this breed of dog. Not just the “drug dealers” “pimps” “bogeyman” or other negative archetype you could dream up.
    #fact. Pitbulls score high on usa temperment tests only
    Coming second the the Labrador.
    #fact. There is no need to murder a dog that has done nothing to you but be born into a particular breed.
    It is sick.
    If you agree with the euthanzia, you are sick.
    You should hope they never blanket ban uneducated or mis-informed people. Some of the above commentators could be in trouble! Stop spouting ignorance! Educate yourself, be the voice of reason, not the voice of retard.
    Judging by some of your opinions, one of these persecuted pitbulls could teach you a thing or two about humanity!!

  27. Stunned... says:

    has any of these dog lovers walked a child recently…just curious

  28. Ignorance_is_not_bliss says:

    So Benny? Because bermuda can’t figure out how to persecute pit bull owners that neglect or harm the dog.. We should kill each and every pitbull the warden comes across? You think mass carcasses of INNOCENT pitbulls justify for those that are abused by humans?
    So kill every pitbull, until the humans figure out how not to neglect or harm them??? Really????
    Yes that makes perfect sense to why in your opinion they should stay on the list & we keep killing them.
    Those terrible pitbulls are abused by humans, so as humans we should kill Them all… How very humane of you.

  29. JD says:

    This is utterly sad – The fact that individuals are so blind to the fact that these pits are innocent in this. Yes it is true that some may somewhat temperamental but one must also keep in mind the owner should be held accountable. I don’t believe that any dog should be banned or restricted – rather that the process of adopting/purchase of any pet to be regulated to a higher degree. One must keep in mind a pet is not a toy you give your child/family as a toy but rather a new member of the family to be loved. Potential owners should be e assisted as to where or not they truly are capable of taking care of their pet. It should be mandate that ALL pet owners should complete obedience classes for EVERY BREED. Sadly I have seen some poorly behaved pets of all kinds (small dogs included – and more often than not) – and yet some of the sweetest most well behaved pets, lo and behold – Pitbulls.

  30. Ignorance_is_not_bliss says:

    Marc bean implemented the ban in 2003 as a knee jerk reaction. Due to a minor (but politically powerful) group request. Since then the canine advisory comittee has already prepared a review on the ban and recommended that the prohibited list be removed for all the large breeds except the wolf hybrids. that was November this year. And nothing has been done. Nothing.
    They continue the breed specific genocide, even though the committee for canines in bermuda has already advised that it is unnecessary.
    Death is not the answer. Blood on your hands will not keep
    People safe.
    Allowing responsible owners, leaves the warden and police free to persecute the irresponsible ones.
    And more to the point, the innocent dogs that do nothing but love their owners don’t need to be murdered for the illusion of safety

  31. Inner Peace says:

    The responsibility of euthanized Pit Bulls lay squarely on the shoulders of those people who breed and keep them since they have been illegal for over ten years. Even before the ban the SPCA was full of unwanted Pit Bulls. Pit Bulls are banned because they are a dangerous dog bred for attacking and killing.

  32. aceboy says:

    “Enhanced enforcement of dog license laws, requiring all dog owners to complete a dog training course [we have to take tests to operate vehicles; the same should apply for owning a dog].”

    Frankly I think that you are really on to something here….but it’s actually unrelated to dogs.

    I think we should license child birth. All potential parents need to be licensed and take a course on parenting. Can’t afford a child? No license.

    That should help with some of the gang violence in 20 years.