Bermuda animal restrictions, a good system or a revenue generator?

Hello again my dear reader,

I know I’ve promised that I would put more stories up about Athena, the third member of our family, the adorable West Highland Terrier. But, until recently, I haven’t had much to put up. She seems to have settled very well and is actually quite well behaved. She was by far the biggest stress generator from this relocation (courtesy of the stringent regulations on animal import) and yet everything has gone really well in the end. She enjoys splish-splashing in the sea (a temporary pleasure since beaches are off-limits to dogs in the summer, more on this later) and spending more time with Jitka. I think we still would like to socialise her more with other dogs but she seems content to hang out with us.

On Sunday, we decided that, instead of going for a run just the two of us, Jitka and I would also take Athena out. Now, since her back right leg is still a little weaker than the left one, we don’t run with her. We only walk. So, we started out from the house, along the South Shore Road until one of the Tribe Roads, 7 I think. As an aside, Tribe Roads are vertical roads in Bermuda that take one from the coast to further inland of the island. Some even cross all the way from North to South. But, I digress. So, we were heading up the hill looking for the Railway Trail. When we got to the top of the ridge, we were faced with what looked like a very angry Pitbull-Ridgeback cross. I say Pitbull Ridgeback cross purely because it looked like a Pitbull in the face and but was taller and looked a lot like a Ridgeback otherwise. According to the official regulations the following breeds are not allowed to be imported into Bermuda:

  • Akita
  • American Bulldog
  • American Pitbull terrier
  • American Staffordshire Terrier
  • Argentine mastiff (Dogo Argentino)
  • Aryan Molossus
  • Australian Dingo
  • Boerboel
  • Brazilian mastiff (Fila Brasileiro)
  • Bull Terrier & Miniature Bull Terrier
  • Bullmastiff
  • Cane Corso
  • Danish Broholmer
  • Dogue de Bordeaux
  • English Staffordshire Bull Terrier
  • Japanese Tosa (Tosa Inu)
  • Mastiff
  • Neopolitan Mastiff
  • Perro de Presa Canario
  • Perro de Presa Mallorquin
  • Rottweiler
  • Tibetan Mastiff
  • Wolf & Wolf Hybrid
  • All types of crossbreeds of the above mentioned dogs.

This list comes from the official Animal Husbandry website from the Government of Bermuda and is the who-is-who of dangerous dogs, those known for aggression. Of course, I may be wrong, maybe the dog wasn’t a Pitbull cross, maybe it was some other breed. But, one thing I was certainly not wrong about is how irate this dog looked. And, most importantly, how it was completely free to come at us, unrestricted by fence or chain!

Seeing dogs off the leash is a bit of a rarity here. This is not because people don’t have dogs. People both have dogs and love their dogs. But, Bermuda is very far behind the rest of the world when it comes to the treatment of animals. In Bermuda, you can’t take your dog anywhere. Neither of the bar/cafes near our house allows dogs, not even in the yard. These two animal unfriendly places, to name and shame them, are the South Shore Swizzle and Tio Pepe, also on the South Shore. Also, you can’t take your dog on a bus and not even in most taxis. Most people who have dogs have them tied up in the yard all the time except when they walk them. Or, they have them running free in a fenced yard.

Now, a break for my proposal to Bermudians everywhere: I would like to do something to change this attitude that you can’t take your dog anywhere. I’m willing to pledge some money and effort (e.g. I can produce a website and host it) to start a campaign. I’d like to get some doggie water bowls made. They should have writing on the side to do with the pleasure of having your dog with you in outside spaces that serve food and drinks (think: a dog is a man’s best friend, enjoy a drink with your dog here today). Then, I’d like to distribute these bowls to restaurants, pubs, cafes, diners etc who are willing to allow dogs on their premises. The distribution would be free, restaurants get a few bowls each. I’m not saying that all places should do this, only those with outside seating. Dogs should always be on a leash and kept under supervision by their owners. Then, gradually, we may see more places allowing dogs on their premises and maybe we’ll see more people taking their dogs out too.

If you’re interested in funding this campaign, taking part or just want to comment, you can always find me at spizkapa at gmail.com. If there is strong support, I may just pull this off!

Continuing with my story, we legged it away from the angry scary dog and walked a different way onto the Railway Trail. It was a pretty nice walk and we went quite far. On the way back, we took Tribe Road #1 down to the South Shore road and walked along the South Shore road almost all the way home. At the bottom of the Tribe Road, we encountered another very angry looking dog (an adult Boxer) but it was at least fenced. The fence didn’t look like it could contain the dog so, again, we legged it away.

So, finally, we get to the point of the story. The Bermuda Government has set up pretty strict rules for the import of dogs. But, still, people have dogs and some of those dogs are dangerous breeds. It begs the question therefore, is it a system put in place for protection or just a way to make money? Would it be better to educate dog owners and the general population that it’s OK to take dogs out with you and you shouldn’t feel like an animal just because you own one? I guess the main point is whether it’s better to apply a blanket ban on certain breeds or to ensure that dogs are properly socialised and integrated into the neighbourhood so they don’t become a danger. I can see both sides of the argument. It’s easier to ban and forget, you pass the responsibility onto others. It’s much more effort to try and change the way people think about dogs and the way they treat them. And, it takes a much longer time.

I don’t know, I guess it’s annoying that I can’t go anywhere with Athena. I would love to be able to have a cold beer in the summer in one of the nearby bars with outdoor seating and have my cute puppy with me, sitting under the table like she did so many times in the beer garden in Riegrovy Sady, the best beer garden in Prague. But, it doesn’t look like this is going to happen any time soon. Ah well…

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