GAIN Works to Update Animal Cruelty Laws

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Guam – Guam Animals In Need (GAIN), a non-profit volunteer group, will be working with partner agencies to update animal cruelty laws on Guam during the upcoming weeks.

Several cases of severe animal cruelty and abuse have been reported to GAIN recently. Macon, a Dalmatian currently under the care of GAIN was confiscated by GPD as he was grossly suffering from dermatitis, mange and starvation.

“Macon’s situation brought to light how inadequate our current animal cruelty laws are,” said GAIN President Cindy Bartels. “Animal cruelty is a very important community issue because it indicates how people may deal with their friends, family and children. Studies have shown there is a strong link between animal cruelty and domestic violence.”

GAIN is working to improve the enforcement of Section 34205(a), Chapter 34, Title 10. It states, “No owner shall fail to provide his animals with sufficient good and wholesome food and water, proper shelter and protection from the weather…” Many times, according to Bartels, violations of animal cruelty/abuse laws have rarely been prosecuted by the Government of Guam. The penalty for animal cruelty/abuse is also woefully outdated, and
allows for a minimum penalty of ($50) and maximum of ($500), whereas Hawaii provides for a penalty up to $2,000 fine and one (1) year  imprisonment.

GAIN is working with the Guam Department of Agriculture (Dept. of Ag.), Guam Police Department, 30th Guam Legislature, Attorney General, village mayors and the community of Guam to revise these laws and increase enforcement to ensure pet owners abide by the law and provide proper care to their pets.

In addition to amending current law, GAIN is requesting the Director of the Dept. of Ag. to either authorizecertain persons of GAIN to impound animals that “require protective custody and care because of mistreatment or neglect by it’s owner [§34209, Ch. 34, Title 10GCA], or improve the response time of the Department of Agriculture Animal Control Unit.

“As volunteers who deal with abused animals, we have seen how much more help the Animal Control Unit needs,” Bartels said. “We want to be an additional resource to the Animal Control Unit and provide support granted by Guam Law. The goal is to prevent inhumane treatment of animals and sometimes that means the animal must be confiscated. That is a last option, but it needs to still be an option for the sake of the animal.”