WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 31: The owners of illegal dogs face losing their pets if they do not take advantage of an amnesty that ends today.
Dozens of people have already registered pit bulls and other illegal dogs and agreed to have them spayed or neutered.
But the authorities have warned owners they will take a “very firm stance” if they come across unlicensed restricted breeds.
Government vet, Jonathan Nisbett, told the Bermuda Sun: “We have done our part by providing this amnesty and given owners a chance to register dogs that are the products of unlicensed breeding.
“Now we have to start taking a firm stance. On September 1 we will start enforcing the law and people may start losing their dogs.
“I would urge people to take advantage of the amnesty before it is too late.
“If you come forward we can work with you — there is no benefit to you hiding in the shadows.
“I don’t understand why people would risk losing their pet — surely it is better to come forward and keep it.”
So far just over 70 dog owners have taken advantage of the amnesty to register their illegal animals.
It was brought in after a rise in the number of dog attacks and aims to reduce the population of banned breeds by preventing reproduction.
Dr Nisbett said 90 per cent of dogs brought forward have been restricted breeds, with the majority being pit bulls.
Dogs brought in legally from overseas are not subject to the same laws as restricted breeds or dogs bred illegally.
But failure to licence a legally imported dog can result in a court appearance and fine.
Dr Nisbett added: “An unlicensed dog that was born in Bermuda without a breeding permit — no matter what breed — is just as illegal as the illegally bred pit bull.
“Therefore there is the potential that owners of unlicensed labradors and Jack Russell terriers that were born in Bermuda without a breeding permit could also lose their pets.
“This is a reminder to all dog owners to make sure their pet is properly licensed. Today is their last opportunity to take advantage of this amnesty.”
For more information contact 236-4201.