This week, RCIPS Community Police Officers, along with Department of Agriculture Staff, visited local neighbourhoods to spread information and advice about responsible dog ownership.
The visits kicked off on Monday on Boltins Avenue in West Bay and continued Wednesday on John McLean Drive and Java Lane in East End, neighbourhoods that have had a number of reports about ferocious dogs and dogs dangerously out of control.
The officers visited homes and spoke to residents about their concerns and experiences, while also distributing copies of the Responsible Dog Ownership pamphlet that was created jointly by the RCIPS and DOA.
“As community police officers, we have been working with the DOA to help address the concerns of those who have to deal with aggressive dogs in their neighbourhoods, as well as the dog owners who allow those dogs to roam free,” said Sergeant Leslie Laing-Hall, who oversees the West Bay community policing sector. “We realized there are a lot of misconceptions about the responsibilities people have as dog owners, and that public education was really needed in this area, so we worked on this pamphlet together.”
However, the walkthroughs were not just about education, but also enforcement. Four dogs were seized by DOA officers during the walkthroughs. Two were seized on Monday’s walkthrough, at a home on Boltins Avenue, after finding that the dogs were not being secured in a proper manner.
“We had actually given this particular dog owner a warning beforehand, and when we returned to the area this week, we found that the dogs were still being allowed to freely roam,” said Erik Bodden of the DOA. “Roaming dogs are dangerous because, even the nicest dog at home can take on a different demeanor in a pack. Pet dogs must be licensed and on a leash in public, that’s the law. Education is important, but enforcement is just as important in changing the habits of dog owners.”
Two other dogs were seized in East End on Wednesday, after they were seen on the road running freely and even chasing children who were riding bicycles in the community. A warning note was left for the home owners, who were not present at the time, to notify them about the seizure and give instructions on how to go about retrieving them.
“It is important to us as community officers to let the people of the East End District know that their concerns are being taken seriously and that we are doing the best that we can to ensure the safety of all members of the community, especially children,” said PC Lazarus Moraes, a community officer in East End. “Part of our duty as community officers is to assist the East End people with making connections with agencies such as the DOA, in order to help the community address a wide array of issues, not just those related to crime.”
Members of the public welcomed the presence of the police and DOA officers.
“We’ve had a few run-ins with dogs near our house,” said Brenda Martinez, a West Bay resident, “so it was great to see police and the DOA out in our neighbourhood addressing this issue.”
“I am pleased that we were so well received by the East End community,” added Mr. Bodden, “The owners that we spoke to were very receptive of the information that we provided and at the end of the evening we were able to license 9 dogs in the community that had not been licensed.”
The RCIPS and DOA were also joined on Monday in West Bay by a Community Development Officer from the Department of Children and Family Services, who spoke to the residents about the benefits of setting up neighbourhood watches.
The RCIPS and DOA plan to continue the walkthroughs in other neighbourhoods later this month.