THE JAMAICA Veterinary Medical Association is now helping to draft legislation to deal with the problem of dangerous dogs, particularly the vicious American Pit Bull Terrier, that have been smuggled into the country over many years.
The Veterinary Services Division in the Ministry of Agriculture wants the owners of dogs in Jamaica to be required to register their animals.
Dr St Aubyn Bartlett, a veterinarian and government backbencher, on Wednesday called for urgent laws to deal with the illegal importation of the American Pit Bull Terrier.
"The situation is now totally out of control as these dangerous dogs are now seen in every community," Bartlett commented, during his contribution to the 2008/2009 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives.
Arguing that Pit Bull Terriers are by nature dangerous, Bartlett said this animal has a propensity to attack children even more than adults.
No pit bull permit
Director of the Veterinary Services Division, Dr Osbil Watson, told The Gleaner yesterday that these animals were being brought into the country illegally, noting that the division had never given a permit to import the Pit Bull.
He said Jamaica would have only permitted imports from the United Kingdom, but that country has now banned the Pit Bull.
The animal has also been banned in Canada and a number of states in America.
Commenting on the proposal for dog owners to register their animals, Watson said a series of public relations exercises would have to be conducted to sensitise Jamaicans about the need to comply.
"The ordinary man would not understand why he has to register his dog," he said.
The director of veterinary services said the division would recommend that the registration begin with the more cultured breeds such as the Rottweiler and Doberman.
Trinidad and Tobago has introduced legislation banning the importation and breeding of 'dangerous' dogs. Contravention of this law attracts a fine of TT$70,000.