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Control and Protection of Dogs Act: | 10 July 2019

Control and Protection of Dogs Act:

(L to r) Mr Naiken, Dr Melanie and Dr Malulu during the press conference yesterday

Registration and importation regulations ready

 

The Control and Protection of Dogs Act is set to take effect on January 1, 2020. The legislation makes provision for the protection of dogs and places the regulatory-responsibility on dog-owners.

As the National Bio-security Agency (NBA), the authority mandated to implement the legislation, prepares for the enforcement of the law, informative outreach campaigns are being organised in a bid to ensure that all dog-owners are aware of the responsibilities and what is expected from them.

Following approval by the National Assembly and cabinet of ministers, the authorities are drafting up the regulations needed to give effect to the law.

In a press conference at the NBA yesterday afternoon, chief executive of NBA Marc Naiken, chief vet officer Jimmy Melanie and principal vet officer Joel Malulu provided the media with more information on the eleven regulations pertaining to registration of dogs, the number of dogs a dog-owner can keep and the conditions in which they should be kept among others.

Dr Melanie asserted the need for the legislation to reinforce the positive aspects of keeping dogs and to eliminate the negative aspects when dogs are not taken care of responsibly.

“The law covers eight parts including the preliminary, the authority appointed to deal with the matters, responsibility of dog-owners as the law places the regulatory-responsibility on dog-owners. One part pertains to registration, nuisance associated with dogs, importation,” Dr Melanie noted.

Under the Act, the Minister for Fisheries and Agriculture can also make regulations.

The law also makes provisions to remedy persons who feel aggrieved by the law, providing them with an avenue for appeal.

“The law will be enforced next year and we are implementing the regulations in different phases. As mentioned, there are 11 regulations that we have worked on comprising registration. To be able to control dogs, we need to know who are keeping dogs, where they are keeping the dogs, how many dogs they are keeping so we can have an idea of how many dogs we have in the country. To register pets, dog-owners will be required to fill in a form and we will then contact them,” Dr Melanie explained.

When registering their pets, owners also have to fill an identification form and get their dog micro-chipped. Registration fees are R50 for sterilised dogs and R500 for unsterilised dogs excluding the price of the microchip. There are other fees for other types of registration such as for dog breeders but this will be enforced during the second phase.

Forms will be available from districts and through the NBA website, which is currently under construction to allow for e-registrations. Before a dog-owner can register their pets, a visit will be conducted on the property by animal welfare officers, who are currently undergoing training, to determine whether the number of dogs stated by the owner is indeed accurate and whether the pets are being kept in accordance with the standards stipulated by the law.

It is important to note that individual dog-owners are restricted to five dogs per household or property at any given time.

Dr Melanie notes that the NBA is placing emphasis on informing the public of the regulations at the earliest possible in a bid to ensure that they are aware of what is expected of them when the law takes effect.

He advised that individuals who own more than 5 dogs have until January 2020 to make the necessary arrangements to have the dogs re-homed.

“We do not encourage people to abandon dogs as there is also provision under the law for fines for individuals who abandon dogs. For those who no longer want to keep their dogs, we urge them to take it to the appropriate services and facilities such as non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and animal-welfare societies,” Dr Melanie continued.

With regards to the importation of dogs, five dog breeds, namely, the Japanese tosa, pitbull, Staffordshire terrier, Argentinean dogo and American pit-bull that are considered as dangerous are completely banned on account that they are not suitable to be kept as pets. Importantly, dogs are categorised as dangerous not only based on their breeds, but also their behaviour. Dogs who exhibit viciousness and undesirable behaviour can also be considered as dangerous.

“There is a criterion for us to categorise dogs as dangerous. There are procedures for dogs which are considered dangerous but that are already being kept as pets and that we are satisfied that they do not exhibit dangerous behaviour and on condition that a dog-owner takes their responsibility to keep their dogs away from the public,” Dr Malulu concluded.

In the meantime until the law takes effect, NBA will launch educational campaigns and outreach programmes to inform the public on the developments and regulations.

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