(JAMAICA GLEANER) — Following a spate of chilling dog attacks in recent years, Justice Minister Delroy Chuck tabled a bill that would impose both civil and criminal liability for delinquent dog owners.
The proposed legislation would repeal the Dogs (Liability for Injuries By) Act of 1877.
In tabling the bill in the House of Representatives, Chuck argued that responsibility will now lie with dog owners to take precautions to protect the public.
“After the latest surge of incidents, I gave a public undertaking to address the existing anomalies in the law. We hope to see no more reports of dog injuries, but in the event they happen, I want Jamaicans to know that the justice ministry has taken the steps necessary to ensure redress under the law,” Chuck stated.
The justice minister had made a promise to take action after a 2019 pit bull attack on a teacher, leaving her with serious wounds and causing her to be hospitalised for a prolonged period.
The bill proposes fines ranging from $500,000 to $3 million, or imprisonment from six months to 15 years. Civil liability can be incurred if the dog causes injury in any place other than its home or where it is normally kept.
According to the bill, a dog owner is defined 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.
Chuck explained to Parliament that the justice ministry is dealing only with the aspect of the law under its purview but seek to have other ministries address other issues such as licensing, registration, insurance, breeding and importation.