Justice Minister, Hon. Delroy Chuck, is appealing to dog owners to properly secure their premises in order to ensure that the animals do not pose a threat to members of the public.
The call comes as debate continues on the Dog (Liability for Attacks) Act in Parliament.
“Ensure that the fence is well secured and that when the gate is open the dog does not escape, because if the dog escapes into the public space and causes injury to pedestrians or innocent bystanders, then this Act will ensure that they (dog owners) pay some serious penalties.
“That is the only way we can make sure that these vicious attacks that have occurred over the years where innocent persons have been seriously injured, that we deter and prevent them from happening,” he added.
Minister Chuck, who was addressing a recent JIS Think Tank, noted that a lot of time was taken to craft the legislation, including consultations with various stakeholders, in order to ensure its effectiveness.
He noted that during the debate on the Bill, concerns raised by Members of the House, as well as other stakeholders, are being addressed. Among them is a definition for “attack”.
“Now we have defined it as where it causes injury or where the dog attempts to bite or to injure the person. We can even put words, where there is a reasonable apprehension of injury, and at this moment and before the Act is finally passed, we are trying to determine what the right phrase to use to define attack is,” he noted.
The Bill, tabled in Parliament in July, is intended to repeal and replace the Dogs (Liabilities for Injuries By) Act of 1877.
It will introduce criminal liability in addition to the civil remedy that previously existed, so that whether or not the victim pursues a civil remedy, the owner may be prosecuted if any of the offences set out in the Bill have been committed.