Given the number of times this newspaper has addressed the issue, it seems that the dangerous dogs legislation is the most complex bill to ever come before Parliament.
More than a decade has gone since the original legislation was drafted and now, in 2013, the re-named Dog Control Bill has been passed, but Attorney General Anand Ramlogan’s office is reported to be making more amendments. Meanwhile, human beings continue to be maimed and killed, mainly by pitbulls.
Last Monday, 82 year-old Lillian Bunsee was mauled to death by a pitbull owned by her family.
The dog was one of ten such animals on the premises in La Seiva Road, Maraval, and were reportedly being bred and given aggression training for sale.
It is significant Mrs. Bunsee had been attacked by the dogs in the past – an incident which apparently did not dissuade her relatives from continuing to keep the animals.
And herein lies a crux of the problem, for it is ignorant human beings who are the real cause of these fatal incidents. But, in the absence of effective law, irresponsible owners can’t even be charged for reckless endangerment, let alone manslaughter.
Given the long history of such attacks in Trinidad and Tobago, and the resultant public outrage and horror, it is astonishing that Members of Parliament have continually failed to get the law right.
This cannot be mere incompetence and lollygagging. After all, when politicians consider an issue important enough, they are capable of drafting laws and passing them within a matter of weeks, and they hardly take longer to find money, personnel and equipment to enforce such legislation.
But those issues tend to be ones which increase politicians’ power, allow them to reward cronies and win them votes.
And, given the continual fear and horror caused by dog attacks, an effective law should be an easy vote-catcher. Unfortunately, it seems that the matter is not so straightforward for those persons with the authority to combat this menace.
After all, dangerous dogs first became a public concern in 1998 when two pitbull dogs owned by businessman Steve Ferguson killed one Christopher Charles.Ferguson is a United National Congress financier who would have benefited legally had the infamous Section 34 of the Administration of Justice (Indictable Proceedings) Act 2011 not been repealed (within days) by Parliament after a public furore.
And many of the most vociferous defenders of pitbulls have a profit motive in ensuring that any law is ineffectual.
In this context, and given the long delay in getting this law operational, the public is entitled to wonder who the politicians are really trying to please.