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#423174 - 11/24/11 07:06 PM SAGA to enforce stray laws
Marty Offline

SAGA Assists in the Enforcement of Laws for Stray and Nuisance Dogs

Every year rumours of a dog ‘eradication’ fly around San Pedro. Pet owners, conservationists, locals, immigrants and tourists all get very upset that dogs may be poisoned and letters are written to the Town Board and local newspapers asking for an alternative solution. The good news is that SAGA Humane Society and the San Pedro Town Board have come to an agreement that will be great news for the people and animals of San Pedro and avoid the need of future eradications via strychnine poisoning.

SAGA Humane Society and the San Pedro Town Board have worked together informally for several years to try to address the problems caused by irresponsible dog owners in San Pedro. These are the owners who allow their dogs to wander on the streets, causing a nuisance to others. This irresponsible behaviour leads to complaints to the Town Board and they have no option but to do their job and deal with nuisance animals. Fortunately, the vast majority of dog owners in San Pedro are responsible and will welcome this new initiative to make San Pedro a happier place for people and pets.

SAGA Humane Society has been given the authority by the San Pedro Town Board to act as Dog Catcher and Pound for the San Pedro area and to enforce the Control of Dogs Act 2000 (Chapter 153). SAGA Humane Society will be working hand in hand with the Town Board, Police Department and Health Department to collect strays, investigate reports of nuisance, neglect and cruelty and set fines for those in breach of the law. Section 15 of the Control of Dogs Act 200, allows the collection of fees and fines and it is hoped that by enforcing this law, San Pedro will become a cleaner and happier place for all. These laws have been in existence for many years, but because San Pedro is growing in population and the complaints about irresponsible dog owners are increasing, they must now be properly enforced. By introducing fines, these will act as a deterrent while helping SAGA to fund this service to the San Pedro community.

Pet owners and non pet owners have to suffer with the problems caused by the minority of irresponsible dog owners. Dogs owned by irresponsible owners foul in public places causing a mess and health hazard, they chase bicycles and golf carts, turn over garbage cans and bark and fight in the night. What many don’t know is that dogs are not allowed to be wandering in the streets during the day or night and should be safely and humanely secured by their owners.

According to the Dogs Control Act 2000, which is the law in Belize, dogs that disturb the peace by persistent barking, dogs that are loose in the street, dogs that chase people and dogs allowed to toilet on public or private property – unless the mess is immediately removed by the owner – are all considered a nuisance and may be seized and the owners may be fined. If your dog is seen loose in town, on the street or in a public place without a collar or without an owner present, it may be considered a stray and picked up by the Dog Catcher. If you have a female dog that is in heat in a public place and she is not on a lead or being carried, she may be seized. If your dog is suffering from illness or injury and is not being carried or on a lead, it may also be seized.

It is an offence for a dog owner to allow their dog to be loose in any street or public place and dogs must be under the owner or handlers immediate control if they take their dog off their property. This means that owners should have a collar and lead with them when walking their dogs and not allow their dog to become a nuisance or disturbance on walks, supervising them closely at all times.

SAGA Humane Society is already authorised to charge fees for the return of wandering dogs to their owners. Right now, if SAGA is forced to seize a dog that has been neglected or allowed to become a nuisance or stray, the owner will have three days to collect the dog and pay a fine, which will be $50 + $10 per day. After that time, the dog will be owned by SAGA Humane Society and may be rehomed or, if there is not sufficient space at SAGA’s shelter or the dog has been assessed as not adoptable, it may be euthanased humanely. A more comprehensive set of fines regarding owners who allow dogs to wander and create nuisance, as well as for owner who abuse or neglect their dogs, is being introduced in accordance with details set forth in the Dogs Control Act and will be published and enforced by the beginning of 2012. Posters and articles will be appearing around San Pedro and in the paper advising the public of the specific procedures and fee schedules.

SAGA Humane Society is appealing to the public and local dog owners to help them enforce these laws, which are designed to maintain public health, reduce nuisance and to protect dogs from cruelty and neglect. Your support will help to prevent the Town Board from being forced to resort to eradications with poison to control loose dogs and the deal with nuisance they create. Please remember that SAGA Humane Society provides this important public service with no financial support from the government.

If you have any questions about the laws relating to dogs or animal welfare or if you would like to contact SAGA about animal cruelty or neglect, please call SAGA on 226 3266.

#423348 - 11/27/11 09:57 AM Re: SAGA to enforce stray laws [Re: Marty]
SP Daily Offline
Finally! No more threatened poisoning by SPTC...

#423436 - 11/28/11 11:25 AM Re: SAGA to enforce stray laws [Re: Marty]
sunandsand Offline
This is wonderful news. I think SAGA never gets enough kudos and recognition for all they do. We THANK YOU SAGA for your involvement and efforts to save the animals of AC!
At what age is it determined I am old enough to know better?

#423481 - 11/28/11 04:30 PM Re: SAGA to enforce stray laws [Re: sunandsand]
BeBelize Offline
Originally Posted By: sunandsand
This is wonderful news. I think SAGA never gets enough kudos and recognition for all they do. We THANK YOU SAGA for your involvement and efforts to save the animals of AC!

Ditto ditto ditto! SAGA rules.
Former Belize expat traveling the USA & Mexico

#424189 - 12/04/11 07:23 PM Re: SAGA to enforce stray laws [Re: Marty]
Sober Offline
I have just witnessed a horrific scene. A pack of maybe 9 dogs, all without collars, attacked a small dog being walked by its young owner on a leash.
People hit the dogs and tried to scare them away but they kept coming back to attack the little dog. These dogs are always around by Marinas store.
SAGA’s dog collection policy is obviously not working, I know that members of SAGA pass this way often and the dogs are always there.
If you could have seen the look of terror on this little girls face as her dog was being attacked it will stay with her for a long time.
If rabies ever got onto this island we would be in trouble with the amount of stray and loose dogs on the streets.
Every morning there is garbage all over the streets where these dogs have ripped open the bags looking for food.
If this would have been my dog being attacked, there would be 9 dead dogs.
It is time for some strong measures to be put in place to control these wild dogs. If that means eradication then so be it.

#424191 - 12/04/11 07:33 PM Re: SAGA to enforce stray laws [Re: Marty]
SimonB Offline
Volunteer your services to help SAGA pick up those dogs. Just because they pass that way often doesn't mean they have the time or resources to pick up those dogs. The program is new, give it a chance.

It is not an easy job. Get out there and see how you handle being surrounded by a bunch of angry guys threatening you while you pick up their dog... Those girls have more balls than most guys you will ever know.

#424195 - 12/04/11 08:01 PM Re: SAGA to enforce stray laws [Re: Marty]
collyk Offline
I'm so sorry for the little girl and her dog. That's horrible, but please Mcplus, blame the owners not SAGA. SAGA does not own the dogs, nor did they set the dogs upon the little girl and her dog. They do their best, struggling with very few resources, very few volunteers and no financial support from the government. You are right to be outraged that irresponsible dog owners would allow their dogs to do this, but it is extremely unfair to call out SAGA, who are a voluntary, non profit, trying to deal with a long term problem. They have just started to work with the Town Board on this issue. If you care so passionately about this, as you seem to, please go down and donate some of your time and money. I'm so sorry that you advocate poisoning as a method of dealing with irresponsible dog ownership. It does nothing to deal with issues relating to irresponsible dog ownership such as the awful scenario you just witnessed. SAGA are only stepping in and trying to assist in a humane and effective manner, where nothing has been done previously. Please try to help. Don't try to damage a very important voluntary, non profit organisation that our community depends on.
Belize Wedding Photography

#424198 - 12/04/11 08:58 PM Re: SAGA to enforce stray laws [Re: Marty]
SimonB Offline
When I grow up I want to have collyk's eloquence...

#424199 - 12/04/11 08:59 PM Re: SAGA to enforce stray laws [Re: Marty]
Sober Offline
I was not blaming SAGA; just saying that there dog collection does not seem to be working.
The issue of stray dogs always raises some passionate views. I am a dog owner, I like dogs, but dogs’ running wild on the streets is not good for anyone.
What if next time it’s a child they attack, they have attacked or bitten lots of people in the past.
A motorcyclist was knocked from his bike by a Pit bull last week and received cuts and damage to his Motorcycle. The owner could not be found and the dog still roams the streets.
At night you cannot walk the streets without getting molested by dogs. All dogs on this island should be fixed that would do a lot to control dog problems, also a license to keep a dog would help pay for services like SAGA. If everyone who had a dog had to pay $5.00 a year that would amount to a good deal of money, considering the number of dogs here.

#424201 - 12/04/11 09:03 PM Re: SAGA to enforce stray laws [Re: Marty]
collyk Offline
McPlus. They cannot pick up every irresponsibly owned dog in town within a matter of days. Where do you think they would house the dogs? Where do you think they would get the people power or other resources. All of those things that you mentioned are a real problem caused by irresponsible owners. The best way that you and others who care can help is by supporting SAGA with your time and money. Fixing all the dogs would be great in an ideal world, but someone has to pay for that. Licensing would also be great, but someone needs to fund the administration and enforcement of such a programme. If you want to see change, please go to SAGA and offer your assistance. They'll be grateful I'm sure.
Belize Wedding Photography

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