Friday, November 2, 2007
Colegio de Abogados de Puerto Rico before the Senate's Comisión de lo Jurídico, Asuntos Municipales y Financieros
Attorney Yolanda Alvarez Cruz, President of the Puerto Rico Bar Association's Special Commission on Animal Rights, accompanied by attorney Tom Lincoln, testifies before the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico Senate's Judiciary Committee (actually named Comisión de lo Jurídico, Asuntos Municipales y Financieros) on Senate Bill 2098 proposed by Senator Jorge de Castro Font on amending Puerto Rico's Animal Protection Law (see Law 67 in English here, and in Spanish here), to add a compulsory anger management program for violations to the law, to increase penalties for violations of Law 67, and to allow for the temporary or permanent removal of animals who have been or are suspected of being abused. While the general tenor of the proposed bill is a positive one, it was the Bar Association's view that anger management courses (which would result in the participant/abuser having his fine cancelled), fails to take account of the fact that many types of animal abuse do not involve any anger on the part of the abuser, and this mechanism is not adequate in addressing this sort of abuse -i.e., neglect of the needs of an animal. Moreover, the bill does not specify what would happen to the animal removed either permanently or provisionally. And finally, the bill seems to target only pet owners or guardians, rather than any person who abuses an animal. As such, the Puerto Rico Bar Association could not and did not give its support to the proposed bill. It is hoped that another bill will be presented soon that will replace Law 67 and a few other animal protection laws in its entirety, augment the penalties, and be truly a revolutionary bill that will meet the expectations of a society that truly cares for the well being of all its animals.