Government to Address the Growing Number of Pitbull-Related Incidents    

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) can confirm that Animal Control officers responded to four dog-biting incidents on Friday, January 13.

DENR can advise that from 2019-2022, complaints of biting/injury to a person and chasing/threatening behaviour reported to the Police were highest in 2022, while attacks on other animals decreased. We also recognise that, despite seeking medical treatment, incidents involving family or neighbourhood dogs often go unreported. Historical data tells us that KEMH and the Lambe-Foggo Clinic see about 7-8 times more dog bite victims than the number of dog bite incidents reported to Animal Control.

To address this, full implementation of the Dogs Act 2008 in this first calendar quarter will mandate that all incidents of dogs causing injury to be reported. Several professions will be legally required to report these incidents, particularly those in the medical and veterinary fields. To facilitate reporting, the Government will release a convenient, easy-to-use digital reporting system accessible by computer, tablet or smartphone. Furthermore, ticketing for minor offences under the Dogs Act 2008 will also begin. The Ministry and DENR are also discussing other ways to address this issue, including working with the kennel club, veterinarians, animal care advocates and others in the community.

Animal Control officers often see callous attitudes among owners of offending dogs, commonly downplaying or denying the actions of their dog(s) in the face of irrefutable evidence. Unfortunately, some consider fencing, secure keeping or proper socialisation of their powerful dogs only after a severe attack. Owners need to recognise that their dog being friendly & loving towards members of the immediate family does not eliminate the possibility of unprovoked aggression towards strangers and other animals. All facets of our community must take dog ownership more seriously. When choosing to own a dog, you take on all the responsibilities and obligations of dog ownership. Dog owners will be held accountable and should now make an effort to license, legitimise and securely keep their dogs in compliance with the Dogs Act 2008. As it stands now, Animal Control has numerous pending court cases, and these recent incidents may result in at least four more.

We shudder to think of the potential outcomes of any of these incidents, especially those involving vulnerable senior citizens or youth. And while any type of attack involving dogs is unfortunate, we recognise that these events involve only a tiny per cent of dog owners. DENR thanks those dog owners who consciously try to secure and socialise their dogs properly and proactively. You help keep your dogs and our community safe. Initial discussions have occurred with the Bermuda Kennel Club to educate dog owners and breeders about responsible dog ownership. Also, recognising the burdens placed on it, we thank the SPCA for their continued support.

Lastly, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources honours its Animal Wardens for their commitment to a challenging and, at times, thankless job. Wardens are often the targets of unwarranted, erroneous, mean-spirited comments on social media. Yet, they continue to perform their duties under challenging circumstances, driven by a desire to do well by animals and to protect the public from the consequences of careless owners.

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