Last Saturday’s fatal dog attack on an elderly St Michael woman has prompted the Ministry of Health to consider amending the Dog (Licencing and Control) Act – the first since the law was enacted over 30 years ago.
Retired nurse Verona Gibson, 74, of Monroe Road, Haggatt Hall was mauled to death by five dogs, including pit bulls, around 5:30 on Saturday morning, on her way to clean the St Barnabas Anglican Church. Thirty-year-old Damien McCollin was also attacked by the dogs and bitten all over his body during an attempt to save Gibson’s life. He was rushed to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital for treatment.
Minister of Health John Boyce Wednesday announced the authorities would examine the legislation with a view to making changes.
“It may be necessary at this time to review this legislation to determine if it requires amendments,” Boyce said at a news conference at the ministry’s office on Culloden Road,
Under the 1984 Act, dog owners face a $250 fine for failure to register a dog. There is a $100 fine and/or a month imprisonment for failure to attach a tag to the dog.
A dog licence costs only $5 and is valid for a period of 12 months, and must be renewed annually.
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals on Monday called for more stringent dog control laws, with Veterinary Inspector Wayne Norville telling Barbados TODAY better must be done to protect Barbadians from attacks by vicious dogs.
Saturday’s attack also led to calls for the banning of some breed of dogs, including pit bulls.
Boyce steered clear of the subject, telling reporters the authorities would look to other countries as benchmark on steps to be taken “with a view to any amendments” deemed necessary.
“Once we start to discuss with stakeholders we would obviously come up with a list of animals which we would recommend then for action to be taken in this regard,” he said.
Boyce, who said he was “deeply saddened” by the attack, refused to entertain questions about Saturday’s tragedy. He also would not say what sections of the legislation were being considered for amendment or how soon those changes would be taken to Parliament.
There were 32, 417 dogs registered here up to last year, and 20,781 dog owners, however, the authorities could not give a breakdown of the breeds of dog.
The animal control centre, which is responsible for responding to complaints from the public on dog-related issues, last year placed 96 dogs in new homes under its re-homing programme.