Child maimed by Pit Bull Terrier". "Rottweiler savages baby". "Little girl killed by Staffordshire."
Sadly, tragic headlines like these are only too common, not just in Britain but in the Canaries too. Only a few months ago, the death of a toddler who was attacked by a dangerous dog caused shock across the island.
If you own one of these breeds, you might think it would never happen to you. That you know and trust your dog or that you think it is under proper control. If so, think again. In fact, just contemplate the consequences, not only for the person attacked but for your dog who could be taken away from you and yourself as the owner who would be heavily fined or even sent to prison.
What you need to do is to get your dangerous dog legalised and though in Tenerife that involves a lot of red tape and some rather unusual processes to go through, it is quite simply the law.
Tenerife News recently heard about the case of Rayo the Rottweiler whose owner is nearing the end of this procedure and felt readers might like to know some of the steps involved. Please don´t let complexities put you off because if you truly love your dog, you will want to protect it and safeguard its future as well as doing everything within your power to avoid any sort of tragedy.
The information was kindly supplied by Karen and Marion of the Accion del Sol dogs´ refuge at Granadilla and Marion would be happy to explain anything you don´t understand if you would like to phone, visit or email.
You will see from our illustration which breeds are classified as potentially dangerous and need a special licence and are subject to strict controls such as needing to be muzzled when being walked (and only one at a time) and only owned by someone over 18 and without a police record. You might think you would never be stopped but the police everywhere are being more vigilant about this problem and do conduct spot checks.
You first step is to go to the SAC office at your local town hall and request a form known as Solicitud de Inscripcion en el Censo de Animales Domesticos Y/O Potencialmente Peligrosos. You will need various papers such as your NIE and passport and your dog´s microchipping evidence etc. The document is in Spanish.
Next, surprisingly, you have to take yourself to your local centro medico and have a medical which will determine if you are fit to keep a potentially dangerous dog (eyesight, blood pressure, reactions etc) and why you want one. You will also be asked to take a questionnaire with 60 questions. This is the main cost involved at 53 euros.
A visit to the Mapfre building in Santa Cruz is also necessary to obtain a certificate which will eventually be returned to you confirming you have no criminal record. If you do, you will not be allowed to get a licence.
You also need to take out dog insurance with a minimum cover of 120,000 euros (on your house insurance or a separate policy) and will need to sign and complete another form from the SAC (Peticion de Antecedentes Penales de Registro Central de Penados y Rebeldes). I took my insurance out with Tenerife Insurance Services 922735321 and i found them most helpful.
Eventually, you take all the papers, microchipping document, innoculation verifications etc back to the SAC and you will receive a preliminary certificate. Subject to all the paperwork being correct, your licence will be issued in a month or so later.
As you might guess, this whole process is lengthy and complicated but it is the right way to get your potentially dangerous dog legalised. Sadly, many owners just don´t bother but Accion del Sol would like others to follow the example of Rayo´s owner.
You should also be aware that if someone else is walking your dog and it attacks a person or another animal, it is still your responsibility, not the minder´s. Your premises should also display a dangerous dog sign and you should always carry your licence and the dog´s paperwork. You must also take these steps if you want to adopt a dangerous dog breed from a refuge and should not be allowed to take it away until you have the paperwork.
It is, we are sure you will agree, quite an eye opener to discover the procedures involved which take around two months. But the law is the law and the only way not to fall foul of it is to bite the bullet and get on with it!
*You can visit Accion de Sol between 3pm and 6pm Monday to Friday - 922 778 630
Join Tenerife Dogs on Facebook and follow on