I have been astonished by the ignorance and misunderstanding of many Trinidadians in relation to the Dog Control Act 2014. I have been hearing about the poor pitbulls and the poor treatment they have been receiving. However, have we ever stopped and listened to the voices of the victims? Oh, wait, we can’t—many have been mauled to death.
The Dog Control Act doesn’t ban dangerous dogs. That was the act of 2000. This act regulates dangerous dogs and, thus, you are allowed to own, keep and love dogs deemed to be dangerous, but under various regulations which act as protective measures.
Let’s ask and answer some simple questions:
1. Do I have to give up my dog (pitbull)? No, you don’t have to give up your dog. However, you have to follow some regulations such as getting a licence, having proper surroundings (secured fence), micro-chipping, registering your dog. So you can keep your dangerous dog, ie, pitbull. Just follow some guidelines.
2. Why does this law target pitbulls and not all dogs? These dogs were chosen based on empirical evidence which shows they are capable of the most vicious and deadly attacks. It is noted when a pitbull attacks and bites someone, it doesn’t let go. One may recall when the 76-year-old grandmother was feeding the family pitbull, it attacked her and mauled her to death. And despite bricks and wood being thrown at it, the dog had to be shot four times before it retreated.
Those who argue these deadly attacks are as a consequence of ill-treatment of uncaring owners ignore the fact many of these attacks have occurred when there is no such allegation—meaning most, if not all, of the pitbull attacks have occurred or have involved pitbulls which were loved and treated well, giving truth to the claim these dogs are highly unpredictable.
3. Why not target all dogs? It is impractical for the State to pass such a law, as it doesn’t have the resources to monitor and evaluate all dogs and their owners. In any event, there is no evidence that suggest all other dogs are a threat to life, as there have never been cases of mauling by pompeks, golden retrievers or “pothounds”.
This law is not the first of its kind in the world. It is just following through on a globally set standard. As a matter of fact, in Canada and certain states of the US, along with New Zealand, dangerous dogs are banned. However in T&T, you are allowed to keep your dog—just simply follow the regulations. These regulations have become important because too many owners have not taken the proper steps to protect the public, hence the many deaths—and one death is one too many.
The pitbull has been described as the poor man’s gun, but just as one is required to licence a gun, one must licence this dog, as it too has caused injury and death.
How often do the owners of pitbulls not compensate the victims of attacks? Well, the time has come for owners to prevent attacks and also compensate those injured.
The reports of over 200 dogs being abandoned are totally false. If a family loved a dog enough to kick up against the law, they certainly wouldn’t abandon the dog. This law is for the many children who were deprived of growing up due to death at the jaws of a pitbull.