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2003-01-31 17:32:44

Dog Problem Becomes Critical

Animals Have Rights Too!

In a direct contradiction to what has been reported by the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries V. Alfred Gray, officials of the Bahamas Humane Society said in a press release yesterday that the stray dog problem has reached a "critical stage."

The escalation of the stray dog problem in the Bahamas appears to give credence to international concerns about the dilemma.

Yesterday, a tourist Paradise turned into a terrifying venue for a Canadian visitor when she was mauled by stray dogs. The incident has prompted reaction from local animal rights organizations leaving them calling for more concrete measures to deal with the stray dog problem.

Police told the Bahama journal that two mixed breed dogs attacked Shannon Synder while she walked along the beach in Harbour Island, biting her arms and legs.

She was airlifted to New Providence and was receiving medial treatment at Doctor's Hospital.

Yesterday, the Humane Society claimed in a press release that the incident could have been avoided if amendments to the Dog Act had been made.

The comments came as the international animal rights group People United for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is asking tourists to call the Prime Minister and the Minister of Tourism requesting a solution to the canine dilemma.

"The Bahamas Humane Society has received more than 20 letters from the Ministry of Tourism concerning the stray dog problem and the negative effects the neglected dogs have on the tourism sector," said Stephen Turnquest, an animal inspector.

Mr. Turnquest said the letters were also sent to the Ministry of Agriculture suggesting that the Ministers discuss the serious problem of stray dogs in the country.

"It is the hope that the Minister of Agriculture will visit the Canine Control Unit so that a solution to the dog problem can be worked out," he said.

Former Member of Parliament for Malcolm Creek Lester Turnquest, meanwhile, renewed his call yesterday for Pit Bull dogs to be banned from the country.

According to Mr. Turnquest, while in parliament, he had drafted a private members bill proposing an amendment to the Dog Act to make the owners of "dangerous" dogs responsible for the actions of their pets.

"I thought that would have made sense because the Pit Bull originates in the United Kingdom and they have since banned it," he said. "In the Bahamas we are just sort of fooling ourselves and closing our eyes to the obvious, the dog is dangerous."

Inspector Turnquest said that the Bahamas Humane Society has been trying to get Pit Bulls banned from the Bahamas since 1982. Mr. Turnquest said that while the Pit Bulls are treated at the Humane Society clinic, they are considered to be a "very aggressive breed."

He said no one should have Pit Bulls as pets.

"The Humane Society advises that all animal owners properly enclose their animals, as owners are liable for their animals' actions," he said. "There is a fine for having a ferocious dog at large."

Inspector Turnquest advised that anyone who wants to get rid of animals should contact the Canine Control Unit, which falls under the Ministry of Agriculture.

By Yvette Rolle-Major, The Bahama Journal

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