Faipule calls for task force not canning plant to deal with stray dog population
Tualauta Rep. Larry Sanitoa has asked the Lolo Administration to consider establishing a stray dog task force, similar to the one set up more than five years ago by the Togiola Administration, to address the problems with stray dogs island-wide.
Sanitoa’s request was outlined in a recent letter to Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga, who was informed about “a serious concern” directed to the lawmaker’s office last year on the lack of a Stray Dog Control Program by the American Samoa Government (ASG).
The stray dog problem faced by the territory was one of the many issues raised publicly during last year’s gubernatorial forum, and candidates promised that they would do all possible to resolve this problem if elected into office.
In his letter Sanitoa claims that numerous reports have been filed on packs of stray dogs around facilities and areas frequented by the general public. Specifically, he said, these areas include but are not limited to Lions and Tafuna Industrial Parks, school campuses in Tualauta, the Ottoville business area near Tradewinds Hotel and Cost-U-Less, Office of Motor Vehicle grounds to the Airport parking lot and other highly populated residential areas in Tualauta district and throughout the territory.
“This is not a new issue, but remains a grave concern to many who regard it as a serious health hazard; and to the business owners an impediment to ongoing efforts in promoting tourism in our territory,” wrote Sanitoa.
He pointed out that there have been reported incidents of dog attacks that occur regularly to individuals in public areas; utility workers working in residential areas, plus trash bins ransacked by packs of dogs in the parks and business facilities alike.
Sanitoa recalled that two years ago, ASG had a Dog Eradication Task Force, which was chaired by Peter Gurr, deputy director of the Department of Agriculture. The Task Force was funded under ASG Special Programs; unfortunately, due to financial constraints within ASG, funding for the program was eliminated.
(Annual budgets for fiscal years 2011 and 2012 included funds for the task force, but no allocation was made in the current fiscal year.)
Furthermore, since Dr. Leo Leituala retired from the Department of Agriculture (DOA) a year ago, DOA has since closed the Veterinary Services due to lack of funds, he said.
He revealed that it was last year that he and some of his colleagues reviewed existing laws on the confinement of domestic animals, and proposed amendments to invoke greater awareness and pet owner responsibility on the required licensing and most importantly, the proper care and control of dogs.
However, due to other pressing priorities within ASG, the lawmakers were never able to complete a review of the current statute, said Sanitoa, who added that he recently asked the Fono legal team to start the review process of domestic animal provisions in local law.
Also last year, Sanitoa said he was informed by Cheryl Morales Polataivao regarding the establishment of the American Samoa Humane Society and that former Gov. Togiola Tulafono created in 2005 the Task Force on Stray Animal Prevention and Remediation.
“Perhaps, your administration would consider recreating a similar Task Force,” he wrote.
Also included in the letter is a copy of the Togiola Administration’s Stray Dog Control Task Force document, which was charged with “reviewing the stray animal problem in the territory”, and recommending strategies to “effectively address and remedy the problem of stray animals” in American Samoa. The first meeting of the task force was held September 2005.
The document cites the mission of the Stray Dog Control Plan, which is to “greatly reduce the stray dog population through a variety of sustainable programs including public awareness and education, population and disease control, eradication of sick and viscous stray dogs, and revising existing legislation to include stricter control of all dogs.”
Download pdf text of the plan below.
Chapter 16 of the American Samoa Code Annotated (the local statute) provides laws dealing with ‘domestic animals’. A provision of this chapter states that no pigs, goats, sheep, horses, cattle, or other domestic animals, other than fowl, cats and licensed dogs may be allowed to run loose. All such animals must be confined by fencing, or kept properly secured by tying or staking.
All animals allowed to run loose or be at large in violation of this section shall be impounded and destroyed. Nothing in this section may be interpreted to prohibit the impounding and destruction of unlicensed dogs in any area, the law states.