Barbados: Breeder defends ‘dangerous’ dogs

Barbados Today:-A breeder of large dogs is pleading with Government not to ban any of the perceived dangerous dogs here.

Amid public outrage and calls for the banning of some breeds following Saturday’s deadly canine attack on 74-year-old Verona Gibson of Monroe Road, Haggatt Hall, St Michael, Minister of Health John Boyce announced yesterday that the authorities were considering banning certain dog breeds.

However, Akita breeder Reynold Cuffy hit back, contending that any attempts to ban dogs such as the Akita and the pit bull would be based on nothing but hysteria.

Cuffy admitted that these dogs could be dangerous, but he argued those that randomly attacked people were often maltreated.

In Barbados, he said, the prevalence of dog fighting was a major factor in the maltreatment of dogs.

“I used to breed pit bulls and Rottweilers years ago but now I only breed for security companies because I realized that a lot of guys were using them for dog fighting.

“I stopped in 2008 to be exact when a guy hang a dog I sold him because he put it to fight and lost $4,000. I cried like a baby when I saw that because I love all the dogs that come out of my kennels. If you treat dogs well they will behave like normal members of the home,” Cuffy said.

While figures were not immediately available on the number of serious or fatal attacks by large dogs here, dog lovers, and pit bill owners in particular, often defend their animals by arguing it was the way they were raised and not the breed that determined how dangerous they were and how likely they were to attack people.

However, the pit bill, which originated in England and was bred for blood sports like bull and bear baiting – where packs of dogs were set against bigger animals in a pit – has a bad reputation.

It has developed enormous jaw strength and a deadly “hold and shake” bite style designed to inflict the maximum damage possible on victims. Between 2005 and 2015 pit bulls were responsible for 64 per cent of all canine deaths in the United States.

They are banned in 12 countries around the world, including Brazil, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Finland, Poland, New Zealand, Norway, the United Kingdom and Puerto Rico. Meanwhile, several US states do not allow the importation of Akitas, which are native to the mountainous regions of Japan.

This notwithstanding, Cuffy, who has 22 years of experience as a dog trainer and has worked with the Trinidad and Tobago Police Force canine unit as well as several reputable security firms, placed the blame squarely on dog owners, saying many of them inflict pain on the animals in order to assert dominance.

This was one of the key reasons, he suggested, these dogs attacked people without provocation or warning.

“A dog will see a human coming towards it and think that it means pain because the owner inflicts pain on them so they attack. I am not saying that is what happened to the lady on Saturday because I don’t know anything about that incident, but I am telling you about what happens in a number of cases I know about.”

He also spoke about impact that the tropical climate had on Akitas, a cold climate breed which can become agitated in the heat of Barbados.

In order to keep them comfortable, he suggested, owners of that breed should keep them in air conditioned environments.

“I am a firm believer that not anybody should be allowed to own these kinds of dogs unless they can afford to keep them. I do not sell my pups to people who look like they cannot look after them properly. It might sound like I am stuck up but that is my position. Any Tom, Dick and Harry can come up with a $1,000 for a pit bull pup or $2,000 for an Akita pup but that is only the beginning. Looking after these dogs is expensive,” he stressed.

The Akita was originally bred for hunting, but is also used as an effective guard dog. The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention does not list it among the most likely to attack humans, but says its sheer size and power means that whenever it attacks, it is likely to cause serious injury.