By Phillip Edward Alexander
Last week the lie that a pit bull (or whatever name these dangerous dogs are going by these days) could be managed or stopped when in full blown frenzy was exposed in the most graphic of fashions. Someone took it upon themselves to take video of the last moments of 84-year-old Lillian Bunsee's life as it was being ripped from her and thought it respectful to her dignity and her loved ones to share the ignobility around.
Phillip Edward Alexander is a social and political activist, a feature writer and columnist, the founder of the Jericho Project and the chairman of the Citizen's Union of Trinidad and Tobago.
What they posted on the internet and to social media was irrefutable evidence of what these animals are in fact capable of, how powerful and frightening these animals could really be, how futile the idea that you could somehow fend it off should the worst occur and, instead of what we imagine a dog attack to be, we witnessed a predator in full prey response. How in heaven's name does this fit in with the idea of this being a civil society?
I will never ever forget how sick to my stomach I felt watching this video but I had no choice. As an outspoken activist who has taken and continues to take such a public stance on this issue, I had to watch to the very end so that I would know and could answer and I apologize to the family of Lillian Bunsee for viewing her this way. What struck me the most beyond the severity of the attack that was itself beyond even my worst imaginings, was an animal so frightfully strong that dropping concrete foundation blocks on its back from one storey up seemed to have little impact.
I have spoken to people collapsing with grief, I have witnessed the pain of family members, I have tried to console the inconsolable even as they struggled to come to terms with such horrific news and I never know what the right words to say are. When I say I am sorry to them, it is more than condolences; it is apologizing for failing, because until we have a dog control law on the statute books to motivate errant owners of vicious or otherwise dangerous dogs to take precautions, we will continue to put our people in harm's way.
What is even harder is the fact that last year we came so close, at almost this exact time we were supposed to be rolling out the last version of the law, and had we stuck to our guns I am quite sure Lillian would be alive today. There is no way under a dog control law whoever owns that many dogs and housing them in such cramped quarters would have been allowed to continue, especially considering the fact that the neighbours were not at all happy and had no qualms voicing their displeasure and concern, but had nowhere to turn, as there was, and still is no law to be enforced. Even if they were to succeed in getting the police to visit the scene every day, the police themselves are neutered by the fact that there is no law to govern these things.
So what do we do now? Now that by our willingness to please and appease we have allowed another member of our society to be savagely ripped apart and mauled to death? Now that our failure to understand that the greater good must always outweigh the needs of the few? In this situation we are all to blame, each and everyone who has a voice; and Lillian Bunsee's blood is on all of our hands.
For my part, I am so fed up. It is time we stopped going around the veritable mulberry bush on this issue. We have a law that has made its way up and down between the Senate and the House; has been poked and pulled at, amended, tacked, prodded and hemmed. Proclaim it. Is it perfect law? Of course it can't be; no law ever is. But it is better than no law, especially in such a lawless society where the innocent and unaware risk being torn limb from limb to make someone else's point.
Proclaim this law.
We are free to amend it to include ALL dogs so that ALL owners carry the same liability; put the same onerous responsibility on all owners to protect the public as we go along, but proclaim it we must. We owe it to society to put something in place that protects the people. Proclaim the law.