Animal welfare bills get positive testimony

Guam Animals In Need (GAIN) President Cyrus Luhr helped write Bill 185 which would overhaul Guam's animal cruelty law.

In the wake of several high-profile animal abuse cases, animal rights activists packed the legislature last night to testify for two animal welfare bills.

Both measures drew support from passionate advocates, including some who questioned GovGuam’s commitment to enforcing animal cruelty laws already on the books.

Bill 185 would overhaul Guam’s animal cruelty law.

Guam Animals In Need (GAIN) President Cyrus Luhr helped write the bill. He works for Sen. Sabina Perez who introduced the measure, which is also known as the PAWs Act.

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Luhr said the measure spells out what “animal abuse” and “animal neglect” means and defines different penalties for each.

“If somebody physically attacks an animal that should be a higher penalty than somebody who chains up their dog outside and doesn’t provide it care. But we also provide new aggravated classes for both of those categories. So if you chain up your dog and they suffer and then have permanent injury, we have a new higher, steeper penalty that’s aggravated animal neglect. And a similar one for aggravated animal cruelty. Which would be purposeful torture and killing of an animal,” Luhr said.

The other measure is Bill 77 which would impose fines of up to $2,000 and a jail term of up to one year for anyone that attempts to harm or inhibit the work of a law enforcement working dog.

Lt. Donald Flickinger, of the Guam Police Department, said these canines are invaluable. “Whether it be for explosive detection or narcotics detection, or even for patrol work. And seeing as that most laws were misdemeanors and basically a slap on the wrist. We needed something with more teeth,” he said.

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Bill 77 also received strong support from GAIN and the law enforcement officials who testified in favor of it.