AmbergrisCaye.com Home

Dogs and the law

Posted By: Marty

Dogs and the law - 09/18/10 05:03 PM

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.

Sincerely,
Deborah Coston writing to Amandala
Posted By: Amanda Syme

Re: Dogs and the law - 09/18/10 05:26 PM

What a great letter.

We experience unruly dog behaviour here on the Caye too. In some areas you simply can't walk past places on the beach for fear of being rushed and attacked. I had a problem in my area for a while but thankfully the neighbours were quick to make changes when they were alerted to the bad behaviour of their animals.

I fear that a child will be mauled by some of the packs of dogs we have running around. I suspect that unrestrained pet dogs that run out and attack folks going to and from school and work on their bikes was the reason behind a terrible rash of pet poisonings that occurred earlier this year on the island.

A little more responsible dog ownership would be greatly received.
Posted By: samray

Re: Dogs and the law - 09/18/10 06:49 PM

I have lived in San Pedro for over 3 years and have only seen one "owned" beach dog that was potentially vicious. The majority of owned and unowned dogs are very social and enjoy each others company. My best days ever on this island are watching the dogs play and run and jump around in the ocean. I have watched visitors adopt them while they are here, giving them food and affection. I have seen kids hit dogs with their hands or with sticks, for no apparent reason. My dog comes with me everywhere, not only because he is family, but to also protect me from some vicious humans. Sit on the beach, watch 10 bicycles go by and notice which one gets barked at......its never a tourist. Dogs by far, are smarter than most people. They do not generally attack unless provoked or are protecting their owner/property. More people should watch the Dog Whisperer and learn how to approach dogs or what to do in case of a potential attack.
Posted By: Amanda Syme

Re: Dogs and the law - 09/18/10 09:42 PM

I agree that the majority of the dogs here are sociable and love to play and love people. I also agree that there are many responsible pet owners that wander the island with their dogs and the animals are well behaved.

I have seen many more potentially vicious dogs than you have. And I have seen the dog bites to both full time residents and tourists that were attacked while they were riding bikes up and down the beach.

Indeed many kids (and their grown-ups) are cruel to animals here - it is one of the few behaviors that I find terribly upsetting.
Posted By: Amanda Syme

Re: Dogs and the law - 09/18/10 09:44 PM

Colette Kase's Be Kind Belize is a great course that is introducing children to animals. She explains to them that animals have feelings, emotions and feel pain. It will take a few generations for this information to become widely acceptable, but I have seen the kids become more compassionate after an afternoon in Colette's classroom.
Posted By: SnoopysMom

Re: Dogs and the law - 09/18/10 10:57 PM

I have observed dogs "caretaking" small children (way too small to be by themselves!) playing in the ocean on more than one occasion. Better parents than their parents.... Totally taken for granted. Kinda heart breaking.

Like Amanda, I have seen a handful of dogs that are too aggressive / vicious to be allowed to roam around freely and chase golf carts and bikes. Some of them pit bull mixes. It is just remarkable that more children have not been hurt. I always carry rocks in my golf cart / empty beer bottles just in case.... and had to use them yesterday in fact.
Posted By: Ernie B

Re: Dogs and the law - 09/19/10 12:16 AM

SnoopysMom, be dang certain dem beer bottles are empty.
Posted By: hair2do

Re: Dogs and the law - 09/19/10 04:54 AM

You made some really good points,I love the part where you write see who the dog barks at.thanks
Posted By: HUMANE SOCIETY

Re: Dogs and the law - 09/20/10 04:21 AM

Its easy to read the laws and ask why? Why the laws are not enforced? Why the dog owners dont care for their dogs? We are in a current struggle on this issue. First its a Cultural thing, when puppies grow up they are often given to the streets. We have had some luck getting the locals to make reports to the police about attacking and abused animals but until of late the Police will not take reports as they should. we are working on that. We cant do anything without official reports made. Unless you are in the middle of the crisis you just cant read the laws and think things should be different. Education is the key and its slow..baby steps at best.

http://www.cayecaulkerhumanesociety.com/
Posted By: ScubaLdy

Re: Dogs and the law - 09/20/10 11:35 PM

Before I moved to San Pedro I was terrified of dogs. The dogs here have taught me so much. Much like the folks who have lived here for a long time, the dogs all get along. They have their rituals and heirarchy and territories and an understanding of these.
Having adopted a couple of pot-lickers I started watching the Dog Whisper and have learned how to be the alpha dog. Even the "pack" at the bridge no longer scare me. I do not run from them; I stop - look then in the eye and say "sisst." Shocking that it actually stops them.

AND - no - I do not need reminded that two of my dogs are among the free that so many people don't like.

How often do you remind people to not come here and try to change the people already here? I feel the same way about dogs. With the proliferation of petty crime dogs are our best safeguard.
Posted By: SnoopysMom

Re: Dogs and the law - 09/20/10 11:58 PM

Agreed - but not every dog on the Island responds to pssst or "no" or even sticks and rocks. There are dogs here (just like the states) that have been trained to fight and attack and then allowed to run free in public areas terrorizing humans and other animals.

2 neighborhood dogs had my cat trapped in the mangroves and had my dog not fought them off, she would have been mauled to death. They visit my yard several times a day now looking for my cat (who is primarily indoor, she just happened to follow me to the laundry). They are cat killers and had my friends cats trapped on their porch last week. This behavior is NOT OKAY and not the animal kingdom's way of working things out. If I could figure out who they belong to, I would file a police report.

Chances are, the owners have no idea what their beloved pets are up to all day. Now, is this responsible pet ownership? Me thinks not.
Posted By: LaurieMar

Re: Dogs and the law - 09/21/10 03:41 AM

As the daughter of a veternarian that practiced for 50 years, I have seen more of my share of problems with dog fights, attacks on other pets, even humans, etc. It can be a behavioral problem, learned behavior, overly protective of property or their owner, lack of responsible ownership, a health problem, or the way the dog was raised from a puppy. Personally, I believe a lot of it is related to responsible pet ownership and training.

This doesn't only happen in Belize or the states...years ago, my girlfriend and I headed down to Cabo to relax for a few days in the Mexican sun. While walking from our condo to a restaurant, we were surrounded by a pack of dogs (small and large, different breeds), they seemed to appear out of nowhere and very suddenly. My friend began to panic...the last thing you should do. I instructed her to get up on the wall bordering the walkway and keep eye contact. It was terrifying for a few minutes, but gradually, they trotted off.....I am very wary of strange dogs running loose...ever since.
Posted By: catdance62

Re: Dogs and the law - 09/21/10 02:20 PM

Is pepper spray legal in Belize? for emergency dog attacks
Posted By: SnoopysMom

Re: Dogs and the law - 09/21/10 06:08 PM

Not sure what the rules are, but they do sell the sprays (and BB guns) at Captain's Sharks. The trick here in using pepper sprays is be aware of the ocean breezes.

Posted By: GwenA

Re: Dogs and the law - 09/21/10 08:17 PM

Snoopy's Mom, having met your dog...at Lazy Croc, and meeting you, I am so happy you are the one bringing up this subject. I keep my dog like we do in the States...totally in control. How can we make more and more baby steps? It isn't just spaying, neutering and other Be Kind initiatives. Treating dogs responsibly, and keeping them on our properties is the next step. I can't believe there was a supportive post for responsibility, by someone who let's her dogs run?
Posted By: Johnny18

Re: Dogs and the law - 09/21/10 08:43 PM

Just FYI....Pepper spray is overkill, IMHO, and there's always the issue of the breeze taking it where it doesn't need to be.

Fill a squirt bottle with 1/2 ammonia and 1/2 water. It works wonders and will also keep dogs and other pesky critters from rummaging through trash cans. I am from a rural area in the US and it's a trick that water meter and electric meter readers use all the time. It's effectice, low cost, and has no real ill effect on the animals other than as a deterrent.
Posted By: Be Kind Belize

Re: Dogs and the law - 09/21/10 11:33 PM

Be Kind Belize is a humane education programme and part of the programme does, indeed, teach kindness and compassion towards animals and other humans. According to the Humane Education, "Humane education provides accurate information about the issues of our time so that people have the information they need to understand the consequences of their decisions. It fosters curiosity, creativity, and critical thinking, so that people can evaluate information and solve problems. It instills reverence, respect, and responsibility, so that people have the motivation to face challenges and to act with integrity and it offers positive choices that benefit oneself, other people, the animals, and the Earth, so that people are empowered to create a more humane world."

A big part of the programme is about personal responsibility, whether that is for oneself, a sibling, a friend, an animal or the environment. We talk a lot about consequences too.

One of the units is focused on 'Dog Safety'. This is a very important unit as it not only helps to prevent children from being hurt by a dog in an accident, but it teaches them about their own responsibilities when dealing with dogs.

There are some interesting facts that the children learn as part of this. For example, children (and adults) are far more likely to be bitten by their own dog or a dog they know. Bites caused by unknown dogs (or dogs the children have not interacted with) are fairly rare. Most children have been bitten by a dog by the time they are ten years old. Other important facts to be aware of include: Most adults don't know what happened when a child is bitten because there was no adult present. There is no such thing as an 'unprovoked attack' - you might not think you did anything to provoke a bite, but the dog clearly did. Most dogs have given numerous warnings about their behaviour, that have been ignored, before they bite a person.

Teaching children appropriate behaviour around dogs to reduce the risk that they might accidentally provoke a bite is very important. But even more important is teaching them how to keep safe when they are under a threat of being bitten. Unfortunately, they hear a lot of unhelpful and dangerous advice from other places. Stare the dog down, being one of the most concerning. Dogs bite because they are either trained to do so (intentionally or not) or because they feel threatened. Dogs feel threatened by a whole bunch of things that humans often fail to acknowledge and they are far more likely to feel threatened if they have not been properly socialised and habituated before the age of 14 weeks.

The advice we give children is relevant to adults as well. I've seen a lot of information here about confrontational methods. I used to give lectures on life threatening attacks by dogs. I worked with the police and courts assessing dogs that had been involved in extremely serious incidents - some involving the death of a person. By analysing attacks within the context of dog behaviour, we can learn a lot from these horrible accidents.

So, here is some advice that may help you and will certainly help a child if they find themselves in a tricky situation with a dog or dogs.

1. Never stare at a dog. Dogs, particularly dogs that are stressed or anxious (as are most dogs that bite) find direct eye contact threatening and in some cases an aggressive challenge. For children, in particular, who have no hope of physically intimidating a dog, staring is a very dangerous thing to do. Unfortunately, most people are inclined to stare when they are frightened, so it is something we have to consciously think of.

2. Never run - unless you can 100% guarantee you are faster than the dog. Dogs are descended from the predatory wolf and many have been selectively bred to be highly motivated by movement and chases (Border Collies and Terriers are two examples of this). Movement stimulates the innate chase instinct in many dogs.

3. Stand very still, don't shout, scream or wave your arms around.

4. Try to keep side on to the dog at all times. Again, this is a very non threatening position to take.

5. If you are on a bike and you think you are likely to be chased, get off the bike, put it between you and the dog and walk.

6. If you are taken by surprise by a dog that chases you on a bike, don't try to outrun it unless you know you can absolutely do it. The last thing you want is to be running or cycling away from a dog and to fall. So stop, try to ignore the dog. Use the bike as protection between you and the dog and then slowly walk away.

If you decide to physically confront the dog, make sure that you are absolutely able to follow it through because you may just trigger an even more serious incident than there would have been in the first place. If a dog is confident in its aggression (don't confuse this for not being anxious - anxiety is what triggers the need to defend, but dogs who have successfully used aggression in the past to defend themselves become more and more confident with its use) then it is likely to take you up on your challenge.

If you are attacked or bitten - stay on your feet. That is the single most important thing in terms of survival of a serious dog attack. Try to get anything - a door, a gate, anything between you and the dog and don't run!

Finally, SAGA Humane Society has been given special powers to deal with cruelty and dog bites in San Pedro. Please report your concerns to them and follow it through with them. They will investigate and take action in conjunction with the proper authorities when necessary.

Please make sure to socialise your animals and your children well, so that they don't come into any harm when they associate with each other.
Posted By: GwenA

Re: Dogs and the law - 09/21/10 11:55 PM

Holy cow, I posted a response to Snoopy's Mom but the power of Be Kind obliterated it. I'm sure that the list of rules was just perfect for this thread.
Posted By: Amir

Re: Dogs and the law - 09/22/10 12:21 AM

All very good advice, but why must one always be looking out for attacking dogs? Every dog needs an owner and every owner is responsible for their dog.

I have a friend who is horribly scarred from a dog attack while walking home one night. People's safety is more important than dogs running free.
Posted By: Be Kind Belize

Re: Dogs and the law - 09/22/10 12:37 AM

Amir, no one should have to be on the look out for attacking dogs in the same way they should not have to be on the lookout for dangerous drivers, or broken glass or all of the other inconveniences and dangers we face every day. Teaching us about personal safety and how to keep ourselves safe is a realistic way of dealing with an issue which is international. I should also point out that despite the fact that you will rarely, if ever, see strays in London these days because of education, enforcement and legislation, there has been no reduction in dog bites. This is because very few bites are caused by unknown dogs. Most people are injured by their own dogs or dogs they know.

The reality is that all developing countries and even some developed countries have many social problems, one of them being stray and latchkey dogs. As long as people believe that their dogs are different and therefore should be allowed to be of their property without supervision, the problem will continue. You'll find that most of the 'stray' dogs in San Pedro are owned, but until responsibility can be defined in law (and Belize has much more pressing issues to deal with right now), people can and will allow their dogs to wander, cause a nuisance, foul, bark, turn over garbage and will still consider themselves 'responsible'.

That is why for safety's sake, we need to learn to be responsible for our own behaviour and reduce our risks of being injured. In the same way we look out for traffic or watch where we walk in bare feet.
Posted By: Amir

Re: Dogs and the law - 09/22/10 01:04 AM

To be blunt, I wish that loose dog had been eliminated before it bit my friend and scarred her for life.
Posted By: GwenA

Re: Dogs and the law - 09/22/10 03:00 AM

Well after that long post, it still remains the same, what are the baby steps to enculture others to keep their dogs on their property?
Posted By: Islenutt

Re: Dogs and the law - 09/22/10 04:28 AM

Be Kind Belize - Thank you so much for the long post with so much practical advice! And thank you for all you do to help educate folks on a subject that is so important! Starting a program for children is a sure way to bring about change (the baby steps) that will be a huge benefit for so many!
Posted By: ScubaLdy

Re: Dogs and the law - 09/22/10 04:43 AM

Be Kind Belize - thank you for your great information. Keep up the good work.
Posted By: samray

Re: Dogs and the law - 09/22/10 05:08 AM

Thanks Be Kind Belize - very useful info.

Younger dogs require more exercise than being cooped up in the yard day in and day out...This also helps them to learn how to socialize with other dogs and people. There is no reason why dogs cant play on the beach, while their owners supervise them and make sure they dont cause a nuisance. Most of the owners will be on top of it, if the dog barks or chases a bike. Live and let live.
Posted By: LaurieMar

Re: Dogs and the law - 09/23/10 07:43 PM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?=nHIJODYBLKs&feature=player_embedded
Posted By: LaurieMar

Re: Dogs and the law - 09/23/10 08:48 PM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nHIJODYBLKs

Trying it again...these dogs are well trained and well-behaved. LOL
Posted By: klcman

Re: Dogs and the law - 09/23/10 10:56 PM

what happens when you get to strike 3?
Posted By: Ernie B

Re: Dogs and the law - 09/23/10 11:50 PM

YER FREEKIN OUT !!!!
Posted By: LaurieMar

Re: Dogs and the law - 09/24/10 01:17 AM

The second link is correct, but guess I am tech-deficient. Is strike 3 the same as fourth and long punt? hhahaa
Posted By: HUMANE SOCIETY

Re: Dogs and the law - 09/24/10 06:07 AM

Gwen....
Baby steps are just that..it will probably take many years. We have made some progress with the locals understanding its not a sin to spay and neuter but still many still think that way. Yet what is amazing is that they think its OK to put new born puppies in a bag a dump them. We struggle everyday to educate owners on simple things, going to their houses explaining about worming, vaccines, nutrition and yes how to contain their dogs in a safe and humane manner yet still many, many villagers leave their dogs to the street, or as they say ..Giving Their dogs back to the street. Belize does have a leash law, but dont go to the Police as its a matter they wont address. People here are poor, cant feed their dogs and feel they have a better chance on the streets. You cant jump into a poor Country and change a Culture in any quick manner. On San Pedro go to SAGA if their is a problem animal, they are very good. If you have a neighbor with a nuisance dog the best step may be to offer to build him a fence, or a dog run, take him some literature explaining diseases the dog can get on the streets and bring home to his family. One family at a time, one dog at a time..educating one child at a time...and working with the Government to enforce its laws...will take awhile..
Posted By: Mike Campbell

Re: Dogs and the law - 09/24/10 06:27 AM

Originally Posted by HUMANE SOCIETY
Gwen....
Baby steps are just that..it will probably take many years. We have made some progress with the locals understanding its not a sin to spay and neuter but still many still think that way. Yet what is amazing is that they think its OK to put new born puppies in a bag a dump them. We struggle everyday to educate owners on simple things, going to their houses explaining about worming, vaccines, nutrition and yes how to contain their dogs in a safe and humane manner yet still many, many villagers leave their dogs to the street, or as they say ..Giving Their dogs back to the street. Belize does have a leash law, but dont go to the Police as its a matter they wont address. People here are poor, cant feed their dogs and feel they have a better chance on the streets. You cant jump into a poor Country and change a Culture in any quick manner. On San Pedro go to SAGA if their is a problem animal, they are very good. If you have a neighbor with a nuisance dog the best step may be to offer to build him a fence, or a dog run, take him some literature explaining diseases the dog can get on the streets and bring home to his family. One family at a time, one dog at a time..educating one child at a time...and working with the Government to enforce its laws...will take awhile..


Thats all well and good but I have lived in places were the dogs were allowed to run. Many ended up turning wild and forming packs. In packs dogs become aggressive and dangerous and they had to be eliminated. We have had the same experience on North Ambergris Caye. We really need an animal control department to pick up all loose dogs and carry them to the pound until their owner comes for them. The Humane Society is really great but for it or SAGA to be effective there must also be animal control by the Town Council not just periodic poisonings which is very cruel and not effective. Loose dogs are a health hazard and should be treated as such.
Posted By: HUMANE SOCIETY

Re: Dogs and the law - 09/24/10 07:00 AM

All these ideas of what should be done are not possibilities at this time, and yes we need a lot of things and a lot of folks have a lot of thoughts, One of the largest dog packs on the North end..over 14 dogs all stemmed from one woman's dogs that got out of control. Mike your thoughts are great, just not going to happen unless you got $$$$$$$$$$$$ also need Government approval.
We are going through a lot of frustration just getting the Police to take any type of dog complaint but we are making progress. We are making some progress in able to pick up nuisance dogs but cant without a police report. Talking about what should be done, that isnt realistic at this time isnt really doing anything. Unless your ready to put a few years of most your time Hopefully I live to see the day all these great ideas come to lite.
Posted By: samray

Re: Dogs and the law - 09/24/10 07:03 AM

I'm curious....North end, less people, less food, less socialization....survival of the fittest....just saying. South end, not so much of an issue.
© 2019 Ambergris Caye Belize Message Board