The Caribbean island of Barbados is experiencing a huge increase in the number of applications for dog licences, following the horrific attack on an elderly woman by a pack of dogs last month.
The woman, a 74-year-old retired nurse named Verona Gibson, was set upon during her walk to a church by five dogs. Despite the heroic intervention of a passerby, she sadly died from her injuries.
Barbados Today has now reported that since the incident, the number of applications for dog licenses has increased four-fold, as the island's dog owners try and keep their pets on the right side of the law. Under the Dog (Licencing and Control) Act of 1984, dog owners face a BDS$250 fine for failing to register a dog.
Dogs on the island are now likely to be subject to stronger laws and restrictions, and this registration rush may be a move by owners to protect them or improve their reputation. The Barbados Minister of Health has announced changes will be looked into, but has yet to specify what they could be. Dogs who attack humans could now become subject to compulsory destruction. At present the pack that killed Verona Gibson remain in holding. Their owner has been released from police custody pending further investigation.
As some of the dogs involved in this case are Pit Bulls, there's now speculation that Barbados may introduce breed-specific legislation, as it is the usual knee-jerk reaction to fatal incidents such as this. Statistics go to show, however, that, in general, countries that do try and ban certain breeds or types do not then experience a decrease in dog bites. In the Britain, dog attacks have actually steadily increased since the introduction of the Dangerous Dogs Act in 1991, which banned four breeds.