Senator Clynt Ridgell has introduced Bill 299-35 to assist the Department of Agriculture with their efforts to begin reducing the stray animal population on Guam. The bill has bipartisan support with co-sponsorship from Speaker Tina Muña Barnes, Senators Pedo’ Terlaje, Régine Biscoe Lee, Joe San Augustin, Amanda Shelton, Telo Taitague, and Wil Castro.
Senator Ridgell has been working closely with the Department of Agriculture to create a strategy to reduce the stray animal population. The Department of Agriculture will soon begin a stray animal round-up, prioritizing first the villages that have the largest populations of stray animals. Before they begin this round-up, the Department is asking residents to license, microchip, and leash their pets so that their pets don’t get taken in the round-up.
“The first thing we need to do is get pet owners to license their pet. This license law has been on the books for a long time, but enforcement has been difficult with little to no resources for the Department to work with. This bill will bring veterinarians into the equation by requiring them to ensure that the pets they treat are licensed. Our island’s vets are the ones who see all the island’s pets so it only makes sense to include them in the solution.”
Veterinarians will be required to report unlicensed pets to the Department of Agriculture, and pets will have to be licensed before being released back to the custody of pet owners.
“Once we begin licensing all pets, the Department of Agriculture can go out and sweep the streets.”
The measure will allow the Department of Agriculture to do a catch, spay, and release program while retaining their authority to get dangerous or aggressive animals off the streets. The spay and release program has been touted by GAIN (Guam Animals in Need) as the most viable solution to the stray animal population. The Department of Agriculture will still have the authority to capture, impound, and humanely euthanize any stray animals that are deemed a danger to the community.
“The bill will also require pet importers to neuter, spay, or pay for pets they import to Guam to remain intact. In order to stop the flood, we need to shut off the spigot. Many pets are brought into Guam and not neutered or spayed. They breed accidentally, and then unwanted pets are left out on the streets.”
The measure will require that imported pets are sterilized before being brought to Guam. Anyone who wants to bring a pet to Guam without sterilization will have to pay an additional fee of $120. Only licensed breeders who are in good standing will be able to import pets for breeding purposes without paying the additional fee.
The Department of Agriculture is working directly with federal counterparts to secure funding for its stray animal round-up program. The program will further sustain itself with $20 fees collected for pet licenses, while the stray population will be drastically and noticeably reduced. (press release)