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JAMAICA | Dog Bite Bill passed in Parliament, now goes to the Senate

  • Written by wiredja Newsdesk
  • Published in local news
Featured Justice Minister Delroy Chuck Justice Minister Delroy Chuck
KINGSTON,  Jamaica November 18, 2020 - The House of Representatives on Tuesday passed the new dog attack law (with 17 amendments)  which provides for criminal and civil liability for an owner of a dog that attacks, injures and/or causes the death of a person.

The Bill which was  tabled by Justice Minister Delroy Chuck will now move to the Senate for its approval.

During Tuesday's sitting, Chuck said under the proposed law, persons convicted convicts would be fined for the offences as set out in the law.

Where they fail to pay the fine, they would be imprisoned. The bill proposes fines ranging from $500,000 to $3 million, or imprisonment from six months to 15 years.

However, Chuck said convicts will not attract a criminal record.

Under the law, civil liability can be incurred if the dog causes injury in any place other than its home or where it is normally kept.

The current Bill provides that non-serious injuries from dog attacks will be dealt with at the parish court level. “If the injuries are really serious or especially if death occurs, then it could go to the Supreme Court level where it could be a serious criminal offence. That area where dogs jump and frighten someone is what we are now in discussion with a number of Parliamentary colleagues about.

“The feeling is that a dog attempting to bite or if someone sees a vicious dog and suffers from fright, then that should not be a criminal offence unless it is clear that the dog has attacked the person, and, therefore, caused the person to suffer great fear,” he pointed out.

The Bill defines a dog owner as the person who occupies premises where a dog is kept, has custody and care of the dog when the injury occurred or who caused the dog to be in the public place where the injury occurred.

The Justice Minister said additional legislation is coming to address the breeding and importation of specific kinds of dogs, spaying of stray dogs, among several other matters.

“A number of points have been raised as to whether you should restrict importation, prohibit breeding, or whether we should spay or neuter [stray dogs] as the case may be. Also, whether we should in a humane manner, remove dogs that are really in a bad condition that have been impounded.

“So that will come in additional legislation that we are working on with the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, also the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development,” Minister Chuck informed while addressing a recent JIS Think Tank.

He noted that the other legislation will also look at breeds that are considered ferocious and may be prohibited from breeding or importation into the island.

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  • Countries: Jamaica