When the Progressive Labour Party (PLP) government banned pit bull breeding back in 2003, little did they know it would result in an islandwide black market that could net up to $30,000 in cash per litter, depending on the size of the litter, for illegal breeders.

The bottom line, fourteen years later, it’s clear that the ban clearly did not stop illegal breeding. And there’s word today, that seven illegal dogs were flown overseas out of Bermuda on Tuesday evening, in “the hopes of finding them new homes in the United States”.

According to the Minister of Home Affairs, Walton Brown, this initiative, was led by his Ministry and a nonprofit no-kill rescue organisation in Massachusetts called ‘Angels Helping Animals’, who came together to find an alternative euthanizing the dogs.

While noting that it’s an expensive option, without saying how much, it was noted that “the rescue group is working to cover” the expenses, “with the help of donations as well as volunteers” both here and in the US.

This after the Minister “contacted the charity directly a few months ago in order to seek a solution to the growing number of illegal, unlicensed, prohibited breed dogs in the care of Government’s animal wardens”.

Note that he conceded that illegal pit bull breeding in Bermuda is a “growing” problem.

“I was passionate about finding a humane solution to this issue,” said Minister Brown. “All of these dogs are illegal dogs and have come into our custody over the past few months. They are all pit bull type dogs and therefore a prohibited breed which cannot be re-homed locally.”

Moving forward, he said: “We will assess how this method works and go from there. I think it would be very helpful to have this avenue to export animals going forward.”

But for now, he said this latest initiative “flying the dogs off the island is the most efficient way of exporting them quickly and safely”, albeit “expensive”.

Overall, Mr Brown said: “It’s been an incredible team effort to save these dogs,” said Minister Brown. “The dog wardens have tirelessly to care for these dogs since they came into their care. They handled the daily care of the dogs, the vaccinations, securing the transport crates, socializing some of the dogs and preparing the dogs for transportation.

“I also want to thank Leslie Hurd of ‘Angels Helping Animals’ for her tremendous effort in bringing this to fruition through her charity.”

The cargo jet left Bermuda for Newark at 7pm last night. As soon as the dogs landed, they were taken into the care of ‘Angels Helping Animals’. Over the past three years, ‘Angels Helping Animals’ have rescued and placed more than 400 dogs from The Virgin Islands  and throughout the United States.

The good news is ultimately, these illegal dogs get to live – albeit elsewhere. On the flip side however, illegal breeding continues, with plenty of money to be made in what is an unintended consequence of what was a shortsighted ban to begin with.

  • Photos Courtesy of DCI