Bill 281 to regulate "dangerous dog breeds"
February 2019 the preliminary bill 281 was drafted to regulate the possession of 14 breeds of "potentially dangerous" dogs in Panama.
The list of dogs, who’s owners will need to register their dogs with their local municipality if the bill passes, has been based on comparative legislation from the United States, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, and Hungary. While the law has likeness to laws passed in these countries it has been publicly rejected by many civilians, deputies and organizations in Panama. One of the biggest complaints is that the bill is not nationally relevant.
The bill that aims to create a public registry for dangerous breed dog, including Rottweilers and Pitt bulls (two popular breeds in Panama), also includes a handful of breeds that are practically non-existent in the country. Moreover it speaks to the possibility of restrictions based on jaw size, and or "power" of the dog and alikeness to breeds listed. For example if a dog looks like a pit bull, has a large jaw size and is considered powerful, it could also be subject to the law.
With ambiguity in the proposed regulations, Pets World Magazine stated that national recourse could be better used regulating existing laws, for example those that protect against animal abuse or the abandonment of all dogs (not just a specific breed). Furthermore, creating a registry for owners of a specific list of breeds (many of which are not common in Panama), may work to make some dog owners accountable, it is unlikely that people who are not keeping their dogs in fit conditions will comply with these regulations.
Laws Bill 281 have been have created controversy in other countries, Panama is not different in this.
Deputy and president of the National Assembly (AN) Yanibel Ábrego said via twitter "I recognize the legitimate right of the deputies to present initiatives, but in the particular case of project 281 related to certain breeds of dogs, a proposal that dates back to 2015 and has not even been approved in the first debate, I express my total disagreement with it" published Ábrego.
Pets World Magazine has created an online petition, with the goal to achieve 75 thousand signatures; To date, a total of 63,842 people have signed it.
Here is the full draft (in Spanish) of Bill 281 as provided by TVN. Here is a break down of what the Bill 281 is seeking to regulate in English:
Article 1. says that the Law aims to establish regulations applicable to potentially dangerous dogs compatible with the safety of people and other animals. It also states that the Law does not apply to dogs belonging to the Public Force and / or to State Security.
Article 2. Says that for the purposes of this Law, dogs that are considered potentially dangerous are those within a racial topology that by their nature are aggressive, or have a particular jaw size or power giving them the ability to cause death or serious injuries to people and other animals.
Dogs of the following breeds (and crosses) are considered as such 1. Akita Inu. 2. American Staffordshire. 3. Bullmastif 4. Bull Terrier 5. Dobennan. 6. Dogo Argentino. 7. Dogue de Bordeaux. 8. Brazilian Fila. 9. Great Japanese Dog. 10. Napolitano Mass. 11.Pit Bull Terrier. 12. Canary Islands. 13 Rottweiler 14. Staffordshire bull terrier.
Article 3. Speaks to the creation for a registry of owners of dogs (of the breeds and crosses mentioned above) to be held in each Municipality.
Article 4 - Article 7. Outline the possession of potentially dangerous dogs is subject to the compliance with the following provisions:
1. Registration in the Registry before the dog is three months old of life.
2. Identify the dog by microchip or a tattoo.
3. For presence and circulation in public spaces, use "harness or chain." less than one meter in length, collar and muzzle, suitable for your breed.
The dogs used are exempt from this provision:
a. On agricultural holdings such as guard, defense and livestock management and in activities of a hunting nature.
b. In sporting events for the purpose of selecting the specimens that participate in them and that they are authorized and supervised by the authority competent, excluding the Public Force.
4. Adopt safety and prevention measures in the building where the dog is kept, in which there must be sufficiently resistant structures and appropriate dimensions that prevent the dog from escaping or exceeding the snout beyond the proper limits.
5. Communicate to the Registry the cession, theft, death or loss of the dog, this circumstance is recorded in the corresponding registration form, without prejudice that if the dog passed into the hands of a new owner, this must renew the registration in the Registry.
Article 8. says that if the dog has a habitual residence outside of Panama they will be subject to the provisions of this Law when it is in Panama.
Article 9. Talks against the abandonment of dogs belonging to the breeds mentioned above.
Article 10. Speaks to the fines that will be imposed ranging from $50 - $500. It says that Non-compliance with the provisions established in this Law shall be sanctioned with fines ranging from fifty balboas (B / .50.00) to five hundred (B / .500.00). The dog can also be taken from the owner in some circumstances.
The initiative, which was proposed by Deputy Noriel Salerno of Cambio Democrático (CD) , is being discussed by a subcommittee on Municipal Affairs of the National Assembly.