Thursday, December 29, 2011

Puerto Rico's Has Shown Improvement in Animal Protection Laws. Great! Now We Need Enforcement

The Animal Legal Defense Fund has published their 2011 U.S. Animal Protection Laws Rankings, and indicate therein as follows:
In reviewing the results from ALDF’s rankings reports over the past five years, more than half of all states and territories experienced a significant improvement in their animal protection laws:

  • 27% improved 2-10%
  • 16% improved 10-50%
  • 11% improved by greater than 50%:
    Alaska:  53%
    Utah:  56%
    Guam:  63%
    Mississippi:  66%
    Puerto Rico:  91%
    Arkansas:  95%
These improvements included, among others:

  • Expanding the range of protections for animals
  • Providing stiffer penalties for offenders
  • Better standards of care for animals 
  • Reporting of animal cruelty cases by veterinarians and other professionals
  • Mitigation and recovery of the costs associated with the care and rehabilitation of mistreated animals  
  • Mental health evaluations and counseling for offenders
  • Bans on ownership of animals following convictions
  • Allowing animals to be included in domestic violence protective orders
One of the frequently-used measures for gauging the state of animal protection laws in the U.S. has been the presence or absence of felony-level penalties for the most egregious types of abuse. Since ALDF released its first U.S. rankings report in 2006, there has been noticeable progress in this indicator. Over the past five years:
  • Six jurisdictions added – for the first time – felony penalties for cases involving extreme animal cruelty or torture: Alaska, Arkansas, Guam, Hawaii, Mississippi, Utah
  • Six strengthened their existing felony animal cruelty laws: Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Nebraska, Nevada, Puerto Rico
  • Eight added felonies for repeated or aggravated animal neglect: Alaska, Arkansas, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, Nebraska, North Carolina, Puerto Rico
  • Six jurisdictions made repeated abandonment, or abandonment that results in the death or serious injury of an animal, a felony: Arkansas, Louisiana, Indiana, Michigan, Nebraska, Puerto Rico
  • Three added felonies for the sexual assault of an animal: Alaska, Puerto Rico, Tennessee
“We are very optimistic for additional progress in the upcoming year,” added Otto. “Nevertheless, even as many jurisdictions are making substantial steps forward, others are unfortunately not. Yet irrespective of where each jurisdiction currently ranks, every state and territory has ample room for improvement.”
But the lingering question and goal for us in Puerto Rico is actual enforcement of our animal protection laws.  While I have noticed improvement, it continues to fall short of adequate.