JAMAICA-LEGISLATION-Jamaica to toughen legislation on dogs

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CANA is reporting that Jamaica is to introduce tougher legislation to deal with attacks by dogs following a recent pit bull attack on a teacher that left her hospitalised with severe wounds.

Justice Minister Delroy Chuck, says the 1877 Dogs (Liability for Injuries By) Act is to be updated to effectively deal with fines and penalties related to attacks.

Chuck said the existing law only provides for compensation when a person is attacked or injured.

“That law does not allow for criminal prosecution; it only allows for civil liability,” he said, adding that the Ministry’s Legal Reform Department has put forward proposals, which will be discussed at Cabinet and later in Parliament, so that stakeholders can have an input.

“We are going to repeal that law and put in place the Dogs Liability of Owners Act, so the burden will be on owners to ensure that their dogs are kept under control. If the dogs are not kept under control and they should escape from the yard/leash and injure persons, then there will be the possibility of criminal liability,” he added.

Chuck noted that persons can either be fined or imprisoned dependent on recklessness or negligence.

“We have to ensure that owners of dogs control their dogs,” he said, noting that “far too many children and persons have been victims of the ferocious attack of many dogs”.

The Justice Minister said that other stakeholders, such as the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development and the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, will play a part in updating the legislation and that the Attorney General’s Department is to respond to the proposals shortly.

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