Minister of Agriculture Indar Weir has issued a stern warning to dog owners that they will be held responsible for any attacks by their dogs on livestock.
Weir was especially incensed today after a tour of Nature Fun Ranch (NFR) in St Andrew, where he learned that the charity that assists at-risk youths, had been a victim of dog attacks.
“I have been told that the sheep were attacked by dogs and they went from 20 something down to three. This is certainly not acceptable,” Weir said.
The attacks at the NFR occurred between March and April this year, with the dogs killing a dozen goats and 17 sheep with only three of each surviving, along with 11 of the 16 rabbits.
NFR founder Corey Lane told Barbados TODAY the ranch was devastated by the loss.
“That is something I think we need to address – this whole idea of feral dogs where people let their dogs go,” Lane said, while explaining that two dogs were involved in the first attacks, but the number had climbed to ten by the last one.
There have been periodic reports of dog attacks on farms across the country, resulting in thousands of dollars in losses to farmers.
Describing the situation as absurd, Weir told the media it was time to hold dog owners responsible.
“I want to send a stern warning to people who keep dogs that your dog is your responsibility and that we in Barbados now have to become a more responsible nation.
“I have heard right across all agricultural projects in this country that there are problems with dogs attacking people’s stock and destroying it. It cannot continue, and we are going to do whatever it takes to hold the owners responsible because that is the only way you are going to deal with the problem. I think it is really absurd that you would have these young people come here and working so hard then to have their animals destroyed by dogs. It is really irresponsible of the owners and something has to be done about it and done quickly. If the owners are going to have to be held responsible then we are going to do what we have to do,” he promised.
Since the attack on NFR, the ranch has applied a number of measures to curb the attacks, including engaging the animal control unit, which has placed dog traps at the farm, Lane said.
In addition, he said, “we brought in our own puppies and train them to defend the stock that we have in place now. So that kind of took care of that situation, for now at least”.
There’s a pet park, horses, and a small farm on the ranch. Students are taught the art of boat building, about sustainable living including organic farming, recycling, and re-purposing.
The NFR programme typically lasts four years but students are assessed at the beginning and an agenda is tailored for them. Upon completion, some return to “give back” by helping other at-risk youth.