Attorney General Anand Ramlogan has come under fire from the Trinidad and Tobago Veterinary Association (TTVA) for his “misrepresentation of the profession”.
“Parliamentarians should use their parliamentary privilege responsibly, not distorting information or engaging in ‘picong’ for their own agendas. This distracts the population from the issues at hand, namely responsible ownership of dogs. Contrary to the comments that were made, veterinarians care more for patient than pocket,” the Association said in a release Saturday.
On February 14, Ramlogan aimed suggestive cross-talk at Opposition MP Terrence Deyalsingh, alluding to personal association between him and animal behaviourist Kristel-Marie Ramanth, whom Deyalsingh was quoting during his contribution to the Dangerous Dogs Bill in Parliament.
Deyalsingh led his colleagues in a walkout protesting Ramlogan’s remarks and the result was the Bill—which names 17 dogs as dangerous—being passed, unopposed, in the House of Representatives.
The Association’s stance as it relates to dog control is one where owner responsibility is key to preventing dog attacks, the TTVA said, with its entire list of recommendations being part of a holistic policy regarding dog control, which includes the registration of all dogs, along with microchip implants, so that the owner of any dog that has attacked a person can be reliably identified, the TTVA said.
The Association maintained that while there have been significant improvements to the Dog Control Bill, its position remained that if the main thrust of the policy remained breed specific, then it was not supportive.
“We emphasise the need to protect the public from attacks from any breed of dog. The AG should reconsider the extensive benefits of properly amending the current Bill.
The Bill in its current form seeks to give the public the illusion of safety while being ineffective in the long run. The Bill does not address the major contributor to dog fatalities: irresponsible owners.
“Owners of a pitbull-type dog who, as a result of this Bill, cannot afford to keep said animal, may inappropriately release that dog (to the detriment of the public and the dog) and acquire another large breed dog not specified in the Bill. This dog may then be ‘trained’ to be aggressive, thus perpetuating the problem,” the Association said.
The TTVA suggested a modernised and enforced version of past legislation, the Dogs Act of 1918, which is not breed specific, to deal with dog bite cases or fatalities.
“We would not want our country to end up like Italy did in 2003 where they eventually passed breed specific legislation (BSL) against 92 breeds of dogs. Many countries with BSL are in the process of repealing these expensive, unenforceable laws.
“Citizens of our country deserve proactive politicians, who are committed to country before self. We trust that our AG will do the things which will benefits those he has chosen to serve,” said the Association.