Thank you for this piece of editorial. It is heartwarming to see that the alarm has been sounded. I sincerely hope that out of the many esteem high profile lawyers we have on the Roc, this case is taken up as pro bono. If this is not a case that needs a precedent to be set, I do not which is.
Can we assist when there is no political scoring to be achieved? Is every supposedly kind gesture done publicly in the name of politics only? Let us see where this is going to go. No political points to be scored on this one so will it be taken up by any of our ever ready camera profilers? I know at least ten (10) attorneys publicly that is who I would love to see if any one of them will take this case. Please let there be a part 3 to this report.
Enough is enough!
(Jamaica Observer) Monday, October 10, 2016
The story ‘Vicious dog attack!’ in yesterday’s Sunday Observer is yet more evidence of the deep-rooted tendency in Jamaica to treat serious issues as nine-day wonders.
The story of an attack on a mother and her two young children by pit bulls in St Andrew in early March is horrific. The mother, Ms Aleiya Chin of St Andrew, says her five-year-old son seems to have developed long-term medical issues as a direct result of the attack.
Even more horrifying, a story from the news archives dated March 1, 2016 tells of 56-year-old Mr Jerome Pow who was killed by pit bulls in the vicinity of Hagley Park Road in St Andrew.
Such reports are not new. Each such incident triggers urgent calls for tougher action to protect citizens from vicious dogs and their careless owners. Then, with the passage of time, the issue is forgotten until there is another nightmarish report.
Writing in January 2014 Jamaica Observer columnist Ms Grace Virtue highlighted some of the cases leading up to then: “In July 2011, 62-year-old Valerie Stephenson, of St Catherine, was killed by a pit bull as she walked in the community. Four months earlier, in Westmoreland, eight-month-old Oshawn Obermann was mauled by a pit bull owned by his parents. He survived with major injuries. In December 2012, two-year-old Ronica Gregory of St Catherine was killed by a pit bull and her sister seriously injured…
“Also in 2012, a woman and her 14-month-old son were attacked by a pit bull in Spanish Town. January 2, 2014, a three-year-old lost an eye after he was mauled by a pit bull in St Ann, and on January 4, 2014, a 59-year-old mechanic was mauled by three pit bulls in St Mary.”
Though apparently hamstrung by legal limitations the police have urged Jamaicans to stop keeping pit bulls and to be vigilant in securing dogs.
In 2014, some opinion leaders, including veterinarian and former Member of Parliament Dr St Aubyn Bartlett, urged registration of dogs and specific legislation.
But then the issue died its usual natural death. Two years later, here we are again.
In the case involving Ms Chin and her two young children, it is alleged that the dogs had free access to the road through an open gate. A lawsuit is apparently the only legal recourse.
A near 150-year-old law, The Dogs (Liability for Injuries by) Act of 1877 is applicable in this instance. Like so many other pieces of Jamaican legislation it needs urgent upgrade.
This should not again be a nine-day wonder. All stakeholders, not least the media, should push with might and main to make sure that this time around concrete action is taken.
We are well aware that Jamaica’s legislative and judicial process is tediously inefficient — we need only listen to Justice Minister Mr Delroy Chuck. But it is full time for action.
For the doubters and naysayers, we think it appropriate to borrow from Ms Virtue in her January 2014 column: “Close your eyes for a minute, honourable ministers, and visualise your child or grandchild being mauled by a dog. Or, imagine yourself, as a two-year old, caught between the jaws of a killer dog.”