Health Minister points finger at dog owners

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Minister of Health and the Environment Molwyn Joseph has responded to concerns from livestock farmers whose animals often fall prey to roaming dogs and are calling for dog control laws in Antigua and Barbuda to be ramped up.

Minister Joseph essentially blamed irresponsible dog owners or residents in general for the attacks made on farm animals.

“We do not want to go around and indiscriminately kill dogs because it is not the fault of the dog but the fault of human beings not being responsible,” he said.

Similar to the minister’s statement was that of livestock farmer Elton Ryan when he spoke with OBSERVER on the matter about a week ago.

“What we have problems with is the survival [of] animals with respect to dogs coming on our farm. People keep saying that they are wild dogs, but they are not wild dogs at all; they are people’s dogs who are coming on our farms,” Ryan said.

He also claimed that the dogs present a major threat to the security of livestock on farms, adding that although the Dog Registration Control Authority (DRCA) has helped, a lot more needs to be done in order to have this vexing issue resolved.

As a result, the Health Minister said, it may be necessary to get farmers and dog owners involved to tackle the problem.

“My inclination now is to get with the Minister of Agriculture and some of the farmers to see what solutions we can come up with,” he said.

Joseph admitted that this approach may be inadequate in addressing the magnitude of the problem, and also conceded that his ministry has not done enough to remedy the issue.

As the minister responsible for the DRCA, however, he said the next steps to be taken will involve adequately staffing the Authority.

“We have to work out a relationship with the Humane Society. They have basically been carrying the load of dog control in Antigua and Barbuda. We are seeking to staff the Authority properly; get a manager and so forth, we are doing that. When we put that in place there is likely to be some more activity geared towards some of these problems,” Minister Joseph revealed.

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