Gone to the dogs

By Raffique Shah
May 20, 2012

Raffique ShahIT’S frustrating enough to have successive governments bark over the Dangerous Dogs Act for more than a decade without proclaiming it law. But it’s exasperating when, just as the woefully inadequate legislation is about to be given a few defective teeth, we have hordes of human-mongrels whining about the rights of these dumb but downright dangerous animals that savage hapless human beings.

You stand in your shoes and wonder aloud: This country has gone to the dogs!

Really, I am sick and tired of apologists for deadly dogs, and these include every breed, half-breed and no-breed I can think of, conjuring excuses and explanations every time someone falls victim to a vicious attack. Last week a Point Fortin woman almost lost her life, and that of her unborn child, following a beastly mauling by two or three dogs of differing pedigree. “Blame the owner, not the dogs!” the dogs-lobby chorused. Well, excuse me! It does not take an Einstein to figure out that the owner or owners are liable.

But what to do with the dogs? Impound them? Or cuddle and cradle them and coo, “Sweet doggie…my pudsin…” I say kill them. Or let me be diplomatic-put them to sleep, permanently. For far too long we have tolerated vicious dogs and their irresponsible owners, to the extent where today there may be more dogs than humans in this country. In fact, and smelly dog shucks is the overpowering stench that defines Trinidad and Tobago.

And don’t tell me about dogs, man. I owned dogs since I was a little boy (some of my then neighbours still call me “Brown Boy” after my first “pothound”). A string of mongrels would follow-Bruno, Eric (you figure that one!), John Dog (when Bjorn Borg was tennis champion) and finally a Lhasa Apso named “Shadow”, a pet for my children who cried when he expired of old age. Thereafter, I decided I wanted no dogs.

I was fed up with having to clean dog mess. I would have nothing to do with “Rotts” when they were vogue, or with “Pitbulls” when they became the new craze. I didn’t want a dog that would one day turn his fangs on me or some family member or friend or even a stranger. Even so, I am unable to escape them. Several of my neighbours have dogs that freely roam my street. I swear there is a sign to the front of my house that says, in dog language, “Deposit thy turd here.” When I leave my gate open, they decorate the driveway or elsewhere, a whiff of foul air and buzzing flies signalling to my household that we have to clean up other people’s dog mess.

As if that’s not bad enough, I have seen one of my neighbour’s pack of “pothounds” attack and bite passers-by who clearly do not have my temperament. Early o’clock, when I first demarked my afternoon walking space, the street, I need add, I had to enforce my right to it with a few sturdy kicks-to-the-belly, after which not a damn dog dared to bark at me, far less bite. Still, the stench of their mess is worse than their bite.

Dog lovers, please don’t tell me that your dogs keep bandits at bay. Except for a small number of trained canines, dogs are useless against determined criminals. With all the “pitbulls” we now have, not to add large numbers of other “high-breds”, how come the incidents of dog-bites-bandit are never reported? Dog lovers should be proud to promote their watchdogs who have saved them from criminal attacks.

I remember reading somewhere that 90 per cent of times dogs bark, it’s directed at another dog, not an intruder. Ask me about their barking. Nightly, as I read in an otherwise peaceful environment before going to bed, I can calculate the time without looking at the wall clock. One neighbour’s dogs, inside his fenced yard, engage the other neighbour’s loose canines in what I have dubbed “bark-outs”. They would erupt loudly and fiercely, for about three minutes a time. They would fall silent for about five minutes then go again, repeating this ritual every night over an hour or so.

Must humans be subjected to such animal misbehaviour in the privacy of our homes? How do you tell a dog to shut up, or not make his foul deposit on the street or in your yard? More importantly, how do we protect man from beasts, from savage attacks like the one that woman from Point Fortin suffered?

I do not think the Dangerous Dogs Act offers people the protection we deserve. The law should bring all dogs under its purview, meaning owners must license every pooch they own, from “pothound” to “pitbull”. The fees can vary and not be punitive—but licences must be displayed on collars. Owners of dangerous dogs (scope widened) must have them insured (reasonable premiums can be worked out with insurance companies). If you cannot afford insurance, then you have no right to own an attack dog—it’s that simple.

Government should have the Act proclaimed on August 1, as planned. But there is need for serious revisions—in favour of man, not beast. Within a reasonable period after proclamation, any dog found unlicensed or straying in a public place should be tranquilised and taken away for disposal. The penalties for unsafe practises (by owners) are adequate in the current law, but they must apply to all dogs. In other words, if you own a dog, whatever breed, you must keep him on a leash or in a properly secured compound.

Finally, enforcement of the law will not work with the regular police. The municipal corporations should be equipped with special squads to enforce the law. It’s time we humans take back our country from these damn dogs.

13 Responses to “Gone to the dogs”


  • Linda Edwards, class of '67

    There is a dangerous truth about these dangerous dogs that attack people.
    They are owed by Indian people and they attack African people. The exception was the woman attacked on her way to work last year, the security guard; but she was wearing a uniform perhaps?
    Sometimes, idle teenage children, let the dogs out, as if their tearing someone apart id part of a new video game.

    This is an uncomfortable truth that we are not prepared to deal with. Dogs owned by rich “indians”, that are “not dangerous’, rush out into the streets and tear apart innocent African originated people, including a four year old boy, walking with his grandmother(Cambridge).

    It cannot be denied that some dogs are being specifically trained to attack African people, and walkers.

    Now, those who think I am racist will need to understand that my first experience of such dogs was not in TnT at all, but on the St. James Coast in BArbados,in 1968, where all the big American movie stars used to have homes. I was walking with a white woman, a professor from New York University, when a dog bounded out of Noel Coward’s home, and came at us. The dog bypassed my friend Judy, and barked at me and forced me to stop. When the house watcher came out, he realized that we were not “natives” but visitors who did not know that was a “Private beach- no fences, just the unspoken understanding that negroes were not allowed there.This was later confirmed for me, by the proprietor of the island inn where we were staying while conducting a training project.

    I have seen enough, all over the world, to know that dogs can be, and are so trained.
    This is why some of these attack dogs disppear in to the cou tryside, and owners will not reveal their whereaouts.They have earned their stripes, now they are used to train others.

    My solution is for residents of neighbourhoods where these dogs live,to put a hunter’s bounty on their heads.Collect the money as a community. $5000 for each one, shot in the streets.
    We will see then, if either police or legislator has the balls to act. Its time communities came together to fight this plague. I have no problem with your dogs secured behind gates.
    This is written for the seven small greatnieces and nephews, whose right to walk the streets are impinged upon.

  • Davy de Verteuil

    HART built Marriott for #00.million Elias & friends renovate Trinidad Hilton for700million =do the MATH

    That same entity threw its weight behind the PP or rather withdrew support for the PNM because PNM decided to import OPVs and install a 360 degree Radar for drug & contraband interdiction.
    Since The inauguration of the PP Gov these plans to monitor Trinidad boundaries cease being the country’s security essentials/concerns.
    Politic as you may, when you sober up do the math and make your judgement!

  • What an article! I always enjoy your well-written contributions but this one leaves me thinking. Do you have enough evidence to prove that dogs owned by Indians attack Afro-Trinies? If you do, please share your findings with the public and let us work to correct this racial dog mess.

    • Linda Edwards, class of '67

      Just do the research based on the newspaper articles of those attacked and killed. Leave out the guy who went into someone’s yard to steal their zabocas, and the Chinese woman in Diego, whose son’s dogs killed her in 2000, when she went to feed them wearing perfume..

  • Thank you. We need to take action to get the Dangerous Dogs Act passed quickly with some of the provisions proposed by Shah.

  • I am shocked by Linda Edwards comments. Foe her sake at least I hope what she is saying is true. Raffique Shah needs to address this too.

  • Linda Edwards, class of '67

    Is is absolutely true. Ask the Express to give you the data on such deaths, and maulings, by attack dog in TnT. Also ask if such attacks have ever happened in Tobago, and if not, why not?. Ask also for those cases of dogs being walked in parks, that attack people, and the trainer picks up the pooch and walks off. A bnotorious case happened in Diego, just before the Chinese woman was mauled to death by her son’s dogs, in 2000.
    Look up my friend Dr. Judith Levay who copeerated with me in a project in Barbados in 1968. If she is still alive, last address I had for her was New York University, she would verify the dog situation outside Noel Coward’s home, in Barbados. She could not believe the dog was trained to attack African people, this was BArbados, remember? Until the manager of the hotel we were staying in, verified that Africans were not allowed on the St. JAmes coast, except as gardeners. I was so thankful, then, for the Alien Landholding Act of TnT, which made our beaches, ours in erpetuity. Thank you Dr. Eric Williams.
    I do not make stories up. Take the wool from over your eyes, please. Dogs are similarly trained in other plas I could name, but my concern is TnT.

  • From what I read just now, two people where attacked that Linda could verify and one of them was a Chinese woman. All of those poor Afro Trinis falling victem. Father in heaven please save us from these African hunting dogs!

  • Although it is possible to train certain breeds to attack specific targets, including race, color and appearance, there has been no evidence to prove that “Indian” dogs are attacking Africans. The attacks reported in the media do not show any consistent pattern related to race. It would be foolish for Indians to train their dogs to attack Africans only, since bandits and “break and enter” criminals in T&T come in all colors and races.
    I am tempted to offer yet another theory for Linda’s accusations, but on this occasion, I prefer to let sleeping dogs lie.

  • Linda Edwards, class of '67

    WHAT WAS THE:
    Ethnicity of the owner of the dog that attacked the Cambridge boy, in the street? The ethnicity of the owner of the dog that killed the security guard walking to work in Central? You guys wear blinders.
    The Chinese woman was kiled by her son’s dogs that she had fed before, but now she was wearing perfume and was coming from a party.(Shows how unpredictable these dogs are) An Afro regiment officer who lived nearby, shot one of the dogs four times, and still he did not let go of the woman who had fed him many times.
    Now, what was the ethnicity of the owner of the dog that attacked the pregnant woman last week? And the one that attacked the reporter who was investigating the murder of the child in south about a month ago? That man, it seemed had deliberately let his do go at the reporter who had stopped to ask directions.

    Continue to live in a fool’s paradise, until your daughtr or wife tries to walk th streets or play in the park.

    There should be armed police sharpshooters patrolling, ready to kill any stray dog that even looks dangerous.
    I take note, count heads, and remember.
    As I said, I have no problem with the dogs that tore up a thief in somebody’s zaboca tree.

  • There must be written rules for dog owners specifying owner’s responsibility for animal behavior including training, cleaning and total animal care with fines for noncompliance. Also, enforce these laws. This is the bottom line. I see zero correlation of race and dog attacks as this is a matter of dog owners controlling the animals.

    • The dogs are racist canines that also hate old Asian ladies who wear perfume Sammie. At night when they attack, they often sprout wings and fly as they howl to the tune of Dixie. I have heard stories of them debating ethics while they play cards. It’s true I tell you. The Dogs are racist.

  • Linda Edwards, class of '67

    Sammie, if I had the time, I would indulge you in a long discussion on which sub-cultures of TnT, and by extension, other parts of the world,seem to value human life, but its time to move on. you may find a co-relation in the murder-suicide rate of our country.As I said though, I move on.

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