Stricter rules passed for Rota dog owners
November 22, 2003
NAVAL STATION ROTA, Spain — Servicemembers who own a dog considered “potentially dangerous” by Spanish law will have to obey some new, tougher rules.
By mid-January, pet owners must purchase a license, take out insurance and get a psychological checkup to legally have the dog on base. A series of dog attacks on base led to the policy change, according to the naval station’s staff judge advocate’s office.
Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Sheniece Bryant owns a 6-month-old female pit bull named Kya. The pit bull breed is one of eight types of dogs listed as potentially dangerous by law.
Bryant is a little concerned about how much it might cost to take out insurance on her “puppy,” but she said the stricter rules are needed.
“It’s good for those people whose dogs get out,” Bryant said. “It will be expensive. But you make that choice” whether or not to own a dog.
While dog owners in Spain have followed the regulations since the law change in 2002, the base has followed its own policy. Base regulations will now mirror Spain’s law.
“We’re just making sure we protect the community, not just the military servicemembers and [Department of Defense] civilians, but the Spanish local nationals, too,” said Lt. Cmdr. Adrian Rowe, the base’s staff judge advocate.
But some people think the rules are unfair.
Dr. Kelly Ann Rada, a veterinarian whose husband is a Navy flight surgeon based in Rota, said breed-specific rules are ineffective, adding that more should be done to enforce leash regulations and punish irresponsible owners.
“I think the goal was ambitious and needs to be respected,” she said, “but it’s insufficient.”
Rada, who volunteers at the base’s no-kill animal shelter, fears that some owners will abandon their dogs rather than fork over extra cash to purchase insurance.
“It’s just obvious that they’re going to dump the dogs instead,” said Rada, who owns a mixed-breed dog.
Navy officials said there have been two dog attacks this calendar year, both this month. One was against two girls on Nov. 2, the other was against another dog nine days later.
The breeds that require a license are: pit bulls, Staffordshire bull terriers, American Staffordshire terriers, Rottweilers, Argentine Dogos, Fila Brasileiros, Tosa Inus and Akita Inus.
The rules also require people who own a dog with “a large, squared head with powerful jaws,” short hair, and weighing more than 44 pounds to get a license.
To obtain one, owners must pass a physical and psychological test and show that they are capable of controlling such a dog. They also must take out liability insurance in the amount of 120,203 euros — about $148,400.
When in public, owners must keep the dogs muzzled and leashed. The leash cannot be any longer than 6½ feet. Only the dog owner, or whoever is the license holder, is allowed to walk the dog.
People who own dogs but do not have a license have until Jan. 15 to get a license off base. Those who do not get a license will have to return the pet to the United States or “dispose of the pet,” according to the staff judge advocate’s office.
The Security Department’s Translation Section will help owners complete paperwork. Additional information is available at the staff judge advocate’s office.