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Make it a crime! - Senator wants owners prosecuted for dog attacks

Published:Saturday | November 9, 2019 | 12:23 AMEdmond Campbell/Senior Parliamentary Reporter

Government Senator Kerensia Morrison wants the Holness administration to move swiftly to amend the archaic 1877 Dogs (Liability for Injuries by) Act to impose criminal sanctions against persons whose dogs attack and injure individuals owing to their negligence.

Morrison introduced a motion in the Senate yesterday to debate the issue following continued traumatic attacks on individuals by vicious dogs.

Not only is the senator pushing to have a more stringent law to deal with the vexed issue of dog attacks, but Morrison is also suggesting that the Government enact legislation to regulate ownership. In this regard, the senator wants a system in place for the registration and grading of dogs, particularly aggressive breeds.

In her motion, Morrison highlighted that attacks from dogs sometimes result in serious injuries and the cost to recover damages may prove prohibitive for some victims.

She argued that greater vigilance by dog owners could reduce the number of attacks on persons.

An intense national debate was triggered in September following the vicious attack on a St Andrew teacher who was pinned down and bitten severely for hours by pit bulls in Coopers Hill.

Three of the animals have since been euthanised.

The motion is to be debated at a later date.

The 1877 Dogs (Liability for Injuries by) Act states that the “owner of every dog shall be liable in damages for civil liability injury done to any person, or any cattle or sheep by his dogs … .”

However, the legislation has no provision for criminal sanctions arising from negligence on the part of persons whose dogs attack and injure others.