Dear Editor,

I’ve written this letter in hopes that you may print it. I do realize it’s a little “into the laws”, but I wrote it that way with the purpose of educating the public, who may not have the time to look up these laws themselves.

If I, a layperson, can look up and read these laws anyone can, so please consider this a letter to be of an educational sort, versus being one of complaint, which may or may not come later. And as a layperson I’m sure there are a few things I missed or left out, but it’s a start.

My letter concerns dogs, their owners and the law. It’s mainly dogs being allowed to run free, in packs, and in general, cause mischief (death, in some cases), which is what dogs do when left to their own devices.

It’s also about the owners that allow such behaviors to happen, or even to go further and blame someone else for their dogs’ behavior.

Anyone who’s heard or read the news over the last few months or even further back in time know that this is a problem of serious concern, and it is a problem countrywide.

Now I’m sure dog owners guilty of letting their dogs roam free will take offence at my letter and complain that I have too many cats, or the lady down the road has a rooster that crows too early in the morning etc.

But neither cats nor chickens gang up nor will they chase bicycles/vehicles down the road, or rush out at you threatening to bite as you walk down the road or beach.

Dogs, Chapter 153 – Laws of Beliz Edition 2000 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 offence and is, on summary conviction, liable to a fine not exceeding one hundred dollars.

Summary Jurisdiction Chapter 98– Laws of Belize Edition 2000 Petty Offences - 4. – (1) - A person who permits any unmuzzled ferocious dog to be at large or sets on or urges any dog or other animal to attack, worry or put in fear any person or beast; or Criminal Code Chapter 101 Edition 2003- Title VIII Criminal Harm to the Person: Negligence by persons in charge of dangerous things; 95. Every person who – being solely or partly in charge of any steam-engine, ship, boat, horse, or beast, or other dangerous thing or matter of any kind; or (b)……, (c)………negligently causes harm to any person, or negligently endangers the life of any person, shall be liable to imprisonment for two years Village Councils Chapter 88 Edition 2000 - Part IV – Powers and Duties of Village Councils 23. (L) for the regulation of the keeping of dogs and other animals, Public Health Chapter 40 Edition 2000 - I’ll admit that I did not find anything in this Act that specifically states “Dogs”, but we all know that they deal with the dog issues and I’ll refer back to the Dog Act, section 18 – (1) (f) - 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 a city or town for the purpose of poisoning any dog which is at large therein; 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…

Now no one wants to have dogs poisoned; that the last thing anyone should want to happen, but it is up to the owners of such said dogs to prevent that from happening.

Also I should think if I re-read my copy of the Belize Constitution, I might find something to relate under the “Protection of MY Fundamental Rights and Freedoms,” for example my rights to walk down a public road without fear………in general terms, etc.

Deborah Coston writing to Amandala