Wednesday, October 31, 2007

We Have Done So Little to Solve the Problem of Stray and Homeless Animals

I just took a look at this article in the New York Times -Puerto Rico Tackles Issue Of Stray Dogs' Suffering - published on January 6, 1998, close to 10 years ago, and the situation has only worsened.

This was part of the description back then.

The plight of Puerto Rico's stray dogs, many of them mixed breeds known as satos, is now the subject of a campaign by animal rights groups in Puerto Rico and on the United States mainland who say the problem, while common to many countries, is unacceptable in an American territory.

The groups say there is a dire need for more animal shelters, for mass sterilizations and for an educational campaign to promote responsibility among dog owners who think nothing of dumping their pets on beaches or along roadsides when the animals are regarded as too expensive or inconvenient.

''There are few places where you see the overt suffering that you see in Puerto Rico,'' said Joyce R. Briggs, a spokeswoman with the American Humane Association in Colorado, which distributed a grim video last summer on Puerto Rico's satos to raise awareness and money for animal protection efforts.

The problem resulted, at least in part, from years of neglect and the low priority given to the strays by government officials, animal rights groups say.

Officials of the Puerto Rican government have said they consider the strays to be the responsibility of the island's 78 municipalities.

Puerto Rico has no animal control officers or dog registry. Moreover, animal cruelty laws are not enforced, animal rights advocates say, and no government agency is directly responsible for the strays. But the main problem, the advocates said, is the attitude of many Puerto Ricans.

And that is pretty much the way it still is now, only probably worse. The 1998 article goes on to state that:

Many animal rights groups advocate a broad, government-subsidized sterilization campaign, and veterinarians favor an equal emphasis on changing the public perception of strays through school programs and public service announcements and passing legislation to require owners to register their pets and make vaccines for rabies mandatory.

''The problem is not the dogs, it's the owners,'' said Dr. Carlos Mongil, [then] president of the Puerto Rican Veterinary Medical Association, which this year plans to participate in a private, subsidized spaying and neutering program. ''We can sterilize all the dogs, but if people don't change their perception, we'd still have stray dogs. The same owner who dumps won't sterilize.''

Suffice it to say that I have yet to hear of the broad, government-subsidized sterilization campaign, or the school programs or the public service announcements. Nor is there any legislation requiring guardians to register their pets. And as for the Puertorrican Veterinary Medical Association, it is still pushing legislation for microchips and mandatory sterilizations.

Time for Mandatory Pet Sterilization

The Humane Society has an excellent article on Why You Should Spay or Neuter Your Pet. Among the reasons stated are the following:

Spaying or Neutering Is Good for Your Pet

  • Spaying and neutering helps dogs and cats live longer, healthier lives.
  • Spaying and neutering can eliminate or reduce the incidence of a number of health problems that can be very difficult or expensive to treat.
  • Spaying eliminates the possibility of uterine or ovarian cancer and greatly reduces the incidence of breast cancer, particularly when your pet is spayed before her first estrous cycle.
  • Neutering eliminates testicular cancer and decreases the incidence of prostate disease.

Spaying or Neutering Is Good for You

  • Spaying and neutering makes pets better, more affectionate companions.
  • Neutering cats makes them less likely to spray and mark territory.
  • Spaying a dog or cat eliminates her heat cycle. Estrus lasts an average of six to 12 days, often twice a year, in dogs and an average of six to seven days, three or more times a year, in cats. Females in heat can cry incessantly, show nervous behavior, and attract unwanted male animals.
  • Unsterilized animals often exhibit more behavior and temperament problems than do those who have been spayed or neutered.
  • Spaying and neutering can make pets less likely to bite.
  • Neutering makes pets less likely to roam the neighborhood, run away, or get into fights.

Spaying and Neutering Are Good for the Community

  • Communities spend millions of dollars to control unwanted animals.
  • Irresponsible breeding contributes to the problem of dog bites and attacks.
  • Animal shelters are overburdened with surplus animals.
  • Stray pets and homeless animals get into trash containers, defecate in public areas or on private lawns, and frighten or anger people who have no understanding of their misery or needs.
  • Some stray animals also scare away or kill birds and wildlife.
I think it is time for the government and pet owners in Puerto Rico to step up to the plate and move towards mandatory pet sterilizations, with low cost sterilizations for pet owners who qualify. The pet overpopulation in Puerto Rico is something unreal, and the number of strays and homeless animals is simply mind-boggling.

As indicated here at The Humane Society website regarding the problem with pet overpopulation:
As a nation, we claim to love cats and dogs. Millions of households have pets, and billions of dollars are spent yearly on pet supplies and food. But as a nation, we should take a hard, sobering look at a different annual statistic: the millions of dogs and cats given up to shelters or left to die on the streets. And the numbers tell only half the story.

Every cat or dog who dies as a result of pet overpopulation—whether humanely in a shelter or by injury, disease, or neglect—is an animal who, more often than not, would have made a wonderful companion, if given the chance. Tremendous as the problem of pet overpopulation is, it can be solved if each of us takes just one small step, starting with not allowing our animals to breed. Here's information about this crisis and why spaying and neutering is the first step to a solution.

How many more dead or suffering animals do we need to see before we decide to get more serious about this problem?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Maldonado v. Municipality of Barceloneta - or the "Barceloneta Massacre"

In photo, Leisha Swayne, Cruelty Investigations Consultant for the RED de Protectores de Animales (The Animal Protectors Network), and Yoli, one of only two survivors of the Barceloneta Pet Massacre. We have posted a link under "Animal Rights Cases" in the sidebar to the Complaint filed last week in the U.S. District Court for the District of Puerto Rico in the so-called "Barceloneta Massacre" case, or Maldonado v. Municipality of Barceloneta, et al.., No. 07-1992 (JAG), claiming in excess of $20 million. This is the case in which the pets taken from their owners under threat of eviction from their public housing, were thereafter thrown to their deaths from a bridge some 50 feet high. You have to read the Complaint. See video at ABC News. Also see posts at Manos por Patas blog here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Animal Protection Laws of the United States & Canada - Third Edition by Stephan K. Otto, ALDF Director of Legal Affairs

You can visit Animal Legal Defense Fund and download here a complimentary copy of Animal Protection Laws of the United States of America & Canada — Third Edition by Stephan K. Otto, Director of Legislative Affairs. It now also covers U.S. territories such as Puerto Rico.
It is the must-have resource for lawyers, law professors, law students, legislators, other legal professionals, and anyone who wants the most comprehensive animal protection laws collection of its kind available.

At almost 2,900 pages in length, the third edition of the compendium contains a detailed survey of the general animal protection and related statutes for all of the states, principal districts and territories of the United States of America, and for all of Canada; up-to-date versions of each jurisdiction’s laws; easy, clickable navigation; and fully searchable content.

You must provide the required information and then you will download an installer which will take you through the rest of the process.


While dedicated to Animal Rights in Puerto Rico, we will be posting and adding information related to animal rights elsewhere. My views are just that: mine, and I do not purport to speak for anyone else. While I have always been interested in Animal Rights, recent events in Puerto Rico (I will refer to this as the Barceloneta Massacre and/or the Barceloneta case) have prompted me to become more of an open advocate for animal rights. These events have also brought a lot of attention to the issue of animal rights in Puerto Rico, and perhaps will prompt our legislative, executive and judicial branches of government to take stronger actions for the protection of animals. As a result of these events, I came to learn that the Puerto Rico Bar Association had a Special Commission on the Rights of Animals, which I have since offered to join.