Jamaica’s Minister of Justice, Hon. 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.
Speaking at a quarterly press briefing at the Ministry’s Constant Spring Road offices in St. Andrew on September 26, Mr 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 noted.
“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.
“We have to ensure that owners of dogs control their dogs”— Minister of Justice, Hon. Delroy Chuck
Mr. 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…Far too many children and persons have been victims of the ferocious attack of many dogs,” he lamented.
The Justice Minister informed 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.
He noted that the Attorney General’s Department is to respond to the proposals shortly.
The legislative changes come in the wake of a recent pit bull attack on a teacher, leaving her with serious wounds, which caused her to be hospitalised for a prolonged period.