Mayors continue to tackle stray animal problem

The members of the Mayors Council of Guam have money allotted to them from the American Rescue Plan. (PNC file photo)

Tension arose during the Mayors’ Council of Guam meeting over unresolved stray animal control issues in the different villages, which mayors said, continue to strain government and non-government resources. 

The lack of enough animal control officers and other resource and program gaps have been a recurring concern among village mayors.

Just recently, Guam Animals in Need said it would limit non-emergency public drop-offs of animals for a certain period of time.

Ordot-Chalan Pago Mayor Jessy Gogue raised concerns over the lack of mandatory licensing program on Guam. 

“We need to get to a point where we can discern the pets that are really a family pet and those that are true strays. When we take in the strays we know that they are being identified as strays because they are not licensed. Then we manage those unlicensed pets accordingly.”

He added, “But the fact that we don’t have in the books a mandatory licensing program, that has never been implemented, we are failing.”

Gogue said while it is great to talk about animal control issues — the administration should take that step to address the situation. “It is great that we talk about it. The question is when are we going to get the administration to make it happen.”

Piti Mayor Jesse Alig also expressed frustration. “I appreciate the work of the group, I appreciate the work of the mayor, animal control, and GAIN. But you know what — we have been talking about this for years. Those dogs are going to live beyond our life span because all we do is talk.  All of us agreed that we are going to support it. So what is our next step? That’s the bottom line. I think we need, by the end of this month, find out what we need to do first in order to get to what we want.”

Alig added: “They did say that GAIN and Agriculture are waiting on something. So that is my point — whatever they are working on — whether it is spaying or neutering, whether it is to provide with more space or provide them with more manpower, then let’s get to that. Let us work on it.  We say the same thing. I’ve been in the office for three years. And it is the same thing.”

Meanwhile, Yigo Mayor Rudy Matanane said “he is tired of the mayors complaining about not doing anything.”

Matanane, who chairs the council’s committee on stray animal round-up said: “I realize your frustration because I probably think that I am more frustrated. We talked about this. You stood up there and you said that you were going to do something. What are you guys doing? I thought that we were doing something.”

“So all of you mayors that are complaining. It is your fault if you are not doing anything. I am doing something and it ain’t easy. So if you think you mayors can do something, then do it. Let’s not talk. Do it while I do what I am supposed to do,” he added

Robert Lizama, the Special Assistant to the Governor assured the mayors that the administration is supportive of the work of the stray animal roundup committee and other possible solutions to the stray animal problem on island. 

“The direction has been given to the Director of the Agriculture to take the lead in coming up with the solutions with regards to the animal control issues that we are facing now in our island. So Director Muna-Brecht has been tasked to come up with the plans — and of course, we are looking at areas — including the spay and neuter idea. Working closely with Mayors’ Council SARU chairman, Mayor Rudy Matanane and colleagues here at the Mayors’ Council. So we are now at the preliminary stage with the administration,” Lizama said in an interview with PNC.

During the last round table meeting, the mayors mulled over possible solutions — including introducing an island-wide spay and neuter program and proposing legislation to tighten pet licensing and identification regulations.

At the same meeting, MCOG executive director Angel Sablan said Adelup has given a directive for the Department of Agriculture to put a spay and neuter program together as one solution to the stray animal problem. He said the program would require the concerted efforts of Agriculture, Mayors Council of Guam and Guam Animals In Need.

Matanane presented a draft bill to the body which intends to repeal and re-enact current laws on pet control and licensing. Matanane said he is working with Senator Sabina Perez to have the bill introduced at the Legislature.

According to GAIN the stray animal problem continues to grow on Guam. In the 1970s, the number of total dogs on Guam was under 10,000. In 2005, it was estimated to be 20,000 to 25,000. Today, it is estimated that over 60,000 stray dogs roam the island.