The eradication of dogs began on the early morning of September 25th and unfortunately a few house dogs were poisoned as well. The owners are upset and are holding the Village Council responsible claiming that no date was given on the eradication of dogs and what they have done is wrong. The Health Department conducted the eradication with the assistance of the Village Council and Police Officers. The eradication is done if and when the Health Department gets too many complaints on stray dogs. Even if dogs have collars they are still considered a stray.
In many countries around the world ‘Dog Laws’ exist and consequences are given if they are broken or requirements are not met. We in Belize do have a DOGS ACT which can be found in Chapter 153, Revised Edition 2000 http://www.belizelaw.org/web/lawadmin/index2.html
Here are a few laws taken from the above revised edition.
POWER TO SEIZE DOGS IN CERTAIN CASES
10.-(1) Whenever a dog is seen in a town, on a highway or in a place of public resort in any of the following cases-
- (a)not having a collar with a licensing badge for the current year attached thereto; or
- (b)appearing to be a stray or ownerless dog; or
(c)being a bitch in heat and being neither led nor carried; or
(d)suffering from any contagious disease and not being carried;
(e)suffering from any disease or injury which causes pain to the
dog and being neither led nor carried,
that dog may be seized by any police officer or dog catcher and the owner of
the dog shall in cases (a), (b)and (c)be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding twenty-five dollars
Provided that a person shall not be convicted under paragraph (a) if he proves that no license is required in respect of the dog.
(2) Every dog catcher shall, while exercising the powers conferred by this section, wear a distinctive badge or uniform of a pattern approved by the Minister.
(3) For purposes of section 39 of the Police Act, a dog catcher exercising the power conferred by this section and wearing such badge or uniform specified in subsection (2) shall be deemed to be a police officer acting in the execution of his duty.
POWER OF MAGISTRATE TO ORDER DESTRUCTION OF DOGS
14.-(1) Whenever it appears to a magistrate on complaint being made to him under the Summary Jurisdiction Acts, that a dog is vicious or savage, whether to animals or human beings, or likely to spread any disease or, by reason of its habit of persistent barking or for any other reason, is a nuisance, the magistrate may order the owner of the dog to keep it under proper control or in such a manner that it shall not be a nuisance, or may order the owner to destroy the dog.
(2) Every person who fails to comply with such order shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding ten dollars for each day or part of a day during which the order has not been complied with.
PROHIBITION ON ALLOWING DOGS TO BE AT LARGE
17. Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, no owner of a dog shall permit that dog to be at large in any street or place of public resort in any town and any person who contravenes this section is guilty of an offense and is, on summary conviction, liable to a fine not exceeding one hundred dollar.
POISONING OF DOGS FOUND AT LARGE
18.-(1) Subject to this section, the licensing authority of any city or town may place poison in any street or place of public resort in such city or town for the purpose of poisoning any dog which is at large therein.
(2) (a)The poison used shall be a preparation of strychnine in capsule form.
(b) The licensing authority shall obtain the poison from the Government pharmacist or from a Government officer who is a qualified chemist and druggist.
(c) The Government pharmacist or such Government officer shall keep a special register of poisons supplied under this Act. He shall enter in such register the quantity of poison in stock and the date, quantity and name of the person to whom he issues the poison. He shall issue poison only to the chief executive officer or other similar officer of a licensing authority.
(d) The chief executive officer or other similar officer of a licensing authority shall keep a register and shall enter therein the date and quantity of poison received by him and also the date, quantity and name of the person to whom he issues the poison.
(e) The chief executive officer or other similar officer of a licensing authority shall issue poison only to a public health inspector who shall sign the register for it.
(f) A public health inspector and a police officer shall accompany each team of a licensing authority which is engaged on a poisoning operation. The public health inspector shall ensure that-
(i) the poison is not scattered broadcast but thrown to individual dogs which are at large in any street or place of public resort;
(ii) the operation is conducted at such times as the streets and places of public resort are likely to be unfrequented; and
(iii) any poison which is not eaten by the dog or dogs to which it was thrown is recovered
(g) On the conclusion of the poisoning operation, the public health inspector shall return all unused or uneaten capsules of poison to the chief executive officer or other similar officer of the licensing authority who shall enter the number so returned and suitable for safe storage in his register and shall sign the entry in the presence of the public health inspector.
(h) The chief executive officer or other similar officer of a licensing authority shall, in the presence of the public health inspector, destroy by fire any capsule of poison returned to him which is unsuitable for safe storage.
(3) No licensing authority shall incur any civil liability for any dog
destroyed in accordance with this section.
(4) For the purposes of this section, “street” includes any highway, and any road, bridge, lane, mews, footway, square, court, alley, passage,
whether a thoroughfare or not and any part of any such highway, road, bridge, lane, mews, footway, square, court, alley or passage.
With these laws specified; the Village Council does have the right to do what they have done. Because these laws are not enforced not every one is aware that Dog Laws do exist in Belize and they can be held accountable if they are broken. These NEED to be enforced on Caye Caulker, not only for the benefit of the Village Council but mainly for every single person living on this island. The most affected are the children who are constantly playing on the streets or any public place on or around dog feces which is the most contaminated ‘product’.
Suggestions that should be considered and/or enforced at some point:
1. A designated area should be provided or considered specifically for the use of a dog pound with the help of the Caye Caulker Humane Society.
2. Dog wardens or some one who is willing to assist in the control of dogs straying around should exist and their job can be to contact the owner of the dog and/or take the dog to the ‘dog pound’ (if existed) and have owner reclaim them. If dog has no collar and identification then dog should be kept to put for adoption if possible.
3. All dogs must have a collar and dog tag and must state name of dog, name of owner and contact information and must be on a leash at all times. This will also help owners when their dogs go missing and at the event of an eradication.
4. Owners should be held liable if any injury or damage is done their dog. Dogs are to be in a fenced yard.
5. Dog Fouling/Poop Signs – Signs should be put up around the island especially on the beach at eye level. If dog fouls in the public area, the owners must be responsible in cleaning up after the dog by use of a paper bag or similar. Failure to do so must be charged with a fine. *Remember you are also putting yourself at risk of sickness as well as others.*
6. Reasonable or free (depending on circumstances) spraying/neutering and VET care should be available for persons who cannot afford the high cost. These items are also expensive to provide so donations made to the Humane Society can also help the community in assisting with these issues.
If these suggestion and others can be taken into serious consideration and have them known then there can be control of this issue at some point and also work with the Humane Society.
It is the responsibility of every one to keep a healthy environment but also adhere to the laws that exist.