EntornoInteligente | Gov’t urged to rid streets of stray dogs » EntornoInteligente

EntornoInteligente | Gov’t urged to rid streets of stray dogs

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Outrage Sunday’s attack on little Mickele Allen in St D’Acre, St Ann, turned the spotlight on a controversial issue that has sparked outrage in Jamaica for years, with new legislation meandering through the Parliament.

Last year, a teacher in St Andrew was mauled by a pack of pit bulls that left her with scars after she, too, battled back from near death.

The Dogs (Liability for Attacks) Act 2020 seeks to make the owners of dogs criminally responsible for attacks

The savage dog attack on a five-year-old St Ann boy on Sunday has triggered greater scrutiny on the preponderance of strays across Jamaica, with the deficit of sufficient and functional pounds threatening public safety.

That’s the view of Dr Simon Johnally, public relations chairperson at the Jamaica Veterinary Medical Association, who is championing urgent action by the Holness administration.

A probe by The Gleaner revealed that only two municipal corporations – the Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation and the Clarendon Municipal Corporation – have an active animal pound.

Even so, Johnally stated that those facilities are not equipped to handle dogs.

“That’s how the Government should intervene, by helping to provide space for small animals like dogs, as the Jamaica Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (JSPCA) and the Montego Bay Animal Haven are extremely limited by space and funding,” Johnally said in an interview on Monday.

JSPCA Managing Director Pamela Lawson has backed a programme of sustained neutering to limit reproduction among dogs that roam the nation’s streets.

Lawson disclosed that hundreds of dogs are taken into JSPCA centres weekly. While it would be ideal to have animal shelters in every parish, that model would not be sustainable financially.

The JSPCA managing director is calling for local authorities to adopt international norms of government-run pounds that put strays to sleep quickly and economically.

“In most of these countries, if they have pound facilities, you will find that if an animal comes into the pound, it is allowed to stay only a few days and then it is humanely euthanised,” she said, citing Ontario and New York as examples.

Outrage Sunday’s attack on little Mickele Allen in St D’Acre, St Ann, turned the spotlight on a controversial issue that has sparked outrage in Jamaica for years, with new legislation meandering through the Parliament.

Last year, a teacher in St Andrew was mauled by a pack of pit bulls that left her with scars after she, too, battled back from near death.

The Dogs (Liability for Attacks) Act 2020 seeks to make the owners of dogs criminally responsible for attacks.

Under the act, it is proposed that owners of dogs that attack and injure persons could be fined from $500,000 up to $3 million or face imprisonment for periods ranging from six months to 15 years.

That danger is not daunting for Cavelle Newsome, owner of an Akita, who agrees that negligent persons should be punished by the law.

“If someone is liable, meaning the owners are irresponsible, then yes, that owner should be made to be responsible for the dog’s action. The law should be of good effect,” she said.

For Newsome, a dog is more than a man’s best friend, it can be a lifesaver.

“We need the dogs because they protect you, and once they are trained properly, it’s a better weapon than even having a gun,” Newsome told The Gleaner .

Faye Grant, who was seen walking with her grandchildren in Trench Town accompanied by three mongrels, said she harboured no fear that the dogs might be a liability if they attacked someone.

The dogs, she said, were her personal bodyguards, not prone to attack or snarl at passers-by during her commute to the bus stop and on her return home.

Grant said, however, that she was acutely aware of the dangers posed by strays, as her own grandson sustained a dog bite.

“My daughter had to take him to the doctor at her own expense. I think the law that the Government is coming with is a good one, because it will make people more accountable. Keep your dogs locked up if you know they will attack people,” she said.

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