Attorney General Anand Ramlogan said the head of The University of the West Indies School of Veterinary Science, in response to a query from him, has confirmed that vets are sufficiently trained to identify pitbulls by reference to their physical characteristics.
Speaking on the Dog Control Amendment Bill in the Senate yesterday, Ramlogan was responding to statements from veterinarians that they could not judge pitbulls by physical appearance, but had to do genetic testing.
The AG said in one breath the vets were saying they could not certify a pitbull just by sight, but in the other breath they were complaining that people would abandon their pitbulls to roam the streets because of the legislation.
“Today’s Express has a picture of a stray pitbull that somebody let go. So the average man in the street could identify a pitbull, but we would stand here and say that qualified vets cannot?” he asked.
On the suggestion that the dogs should not be classified by breed but instead by weight, the Attorney General said: “You know what they would say when you do that? That you targeting ‘rolly polly’ dogs,” adding that dogs such as “Lassie” and golden retrievers would be caught in this net.
Ramlogan said a 15-year study in the US showed that attacks by pitbulls were associated with higher morbidity rates, higher hospital charges and higher risks of death than by other any breed of dogs.
He said while Government had listened to the animal rights groups and lobbies, this receptiveness must not to be mistaken for weakness.
“Government would not be bullied on this matter because we stand firm in our conviction and commitment that this is an issue that requires immediate legislative intervention to protect the poor and defenceless from attacks by dangerous and vicious dogs,” the AG stated.
Noting that Miami had banned pitbulls, he said: “Miami, where we have plenty Trinis living, they ban pitbull. I ain’t see nobody leave Miami Dade County to run back to Trinidad because they can’t own a pitbull. They cool and calm up there and they subject themselves to the law and they buy a little pothound and they cool with that. But here (in Trinidad) everybody want to act up.”
He added that while this was people’s constitutional right, they had to understand that Government couldn’t please everybody and give them everything they want, otherwise the legislation would be lopsided and biased.
Ramlogan said countries which had banned pitbulls outright or had breed-specific legislation included Bermuda, Denmark, Ecuador, Ireland, Malta, Norway, Venezuela, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Romania, Singapore, Spain, Turkey, Ukraine, Germany, Poland and several states in the US.