Dog owners want review of decision to destroy pit bull
Several dog owners and lovers are calling for a review of the recent decision handed down by Magistrate Oneidge Walrond-Allicock to destroy a pit bull involved in a ferocious attack on a miner last year saying it was too harsh.
They questioned if the dog�s tendency to attack was even considered before the ruling was handed down, stressing that even if it was not, the owner should have been punished and not the animal.
Wednesday�s ruling in the case of Vilton Bourne vs Lennox Wade took place in the Georgetown Magistrate�s Court after months of testimony from about eight witnesses. It was while leading his defence on that day that Bourne acknowledged ownership of one of the two pit bulls that mauled Wade and begged for leniency. Wade, who is also a furniture manufacturer, underwent a number of operations and was hospitalized in Cuba for one month. His right hand has been left permanently damaged and it bears evidence of the gruesome attack as do other parts of his body. Bourne was fined $15,000 or six months imprisonment and was told that if he failed to comply with the order to destroy the dog, he would be fined for every day the order was not carried out.
The decision has sent shock waves through sections of society and left pit bull owners infuriated. However, the majority of persons feel a sense of victory against this feared terrier, which was listed in 2000 as number one in the world when it comes to deadly attacks on people. It is followed by Rottweilers, German shepherds and chows, in that order.
From records and persons this newspaper had spoken with, such a decision has not been made in several years and it sends a clear message to the owners of these dogs and other vicious breeds that they must do everything in their power to secure and control their animals.
One pit bull owner who did not want his name published, called the decision �unfair� stressing that the owner should face the penalty alone and not the dog.
He told Stabroek News that it was because of the owner�s negligence that the dog was able to be on the road and attack the man.
According to him, this sort of ruling would definitely send a strong message to pit bull owners that they have to ensure the animals are secure. Asked about the penalty the owner received, he said that the amount was substantial enough.
Another dog owner said that this has �opened a can of worms� as with this ruling every magistrate that hears a dog attack case might feel inclined to order that the animal be destroyed once the matter reaches the court.
This man, who has owned ten of these dogs over the last ten years, said he never once had a problem with them adding that the law should be reviewed as it is unfair to kill a dog that someone has paid thousands of dollars for and still has to find thousands more to maintain on a monthly basis.
Stabroek News had been told during a previous interview that a pit bull can be bought for as much as $100, 000 and several dog owners denied that dog fighting could make the animals vicious.
Despite the anger being expressed by pit bull owners, President of the Guyana Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (GSPCA) Oliver Insanally and Syeada Manbodh who does part-time volunteer work rescuing animals, mainly dogs, said there was very little the magistrate could have done.|
Insanally said the decision was handed down based on the law, adding that when he first read of it in the Stabroek News, he was not at all surprised as he suspected that some day, this would have been the way such cases before the court would go.
However, he stressed that before a pit bull is considered dangerous and uncontrollable it should be evaluated by a veterinarian.
During an interview last month, Insanally had signalled the need for the legislation to be amended and informed this newspaper that the GSPCA had retained a lawyer at its own expense to review and revamp the animal laws. He said there should be heavier penalties if persons are tried and found guilty of negligence in their responsibilities as owners.
�We feel that these dog attacks were horrific and totally unacceptable and that a strong message must be sent to prevent recurrences,� Insanally had said. �While we all justifiably feel outraged at these recent dog attacks, however, the GSPCA feels that measures taken to address this problem should not be based purely on this emotion but should come from a more holistic approach.�
Meanwhile, Manbodh said she believed the magistrate did all she could have done and justice was served.
�It serves as a wake-up call for all irresponsible dog owners, not just pit bulls but all breeds.
People should be able to walk and jog on the road without fear,� she said adding that dog owners should start spaying (having the ovaries and uterus surgically removed) their animals so that the population could be controlled, decreasing problems such as proper housing.
Spaying, she said, was a simple process that lasted approximately 30 minutes and was being done for free at GSPCA.
�This decision sends a big message to people that attacks would not be tolerated anymore� It�s a pity that the animal has to suffer because of man�s ignorance,� she added.
Following the attack on Wade, there have been at least five more including the death of a security guard at Ogle. Ronny Totaram, the alleged owner of the animals responsible for the guard�s death, is currently before the court charged with manslaughter. He was released on $100,000 bail on his first court appearance.
The dogs, which are of mixed breed, are being held at the Police Canine Division, Eve Leary until the court decides what will be done with them.
Stabroek News was told that if the animal is to be destroyed a lethal dose of injection is used to kill it.
Many, including Attorney-at-law Gregory Gaskin and veterinarian Dr Nicolas Mc Lean have called for amendments to the legislation that governs ferocious dogs.
Mc Lean had suggested that a public forum be held by the police, Director of Public Prosecutions and other stakeholders to see what systems could be put in place. He suggested setting up a dog insurance policy to cover the injured.
Bless the Bullys