OAG successfully argues Pugua case before Supreme Court; charges reinstated

Pugua was one of the pets allegedly shot and killed in Yigo by Gerald Wayne Cruz. (PNC graphic by Ricky De Guzman)

The Supreme Court has ruled in favor of the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) in the 2018 Yigo Pet Killer Case. The OAG argued that the People should be allowed to pursue felony animal abuse charges against Gerald Wayne Cruz II based on allegations that he used a .22 caliber rifle to shoot, seriously injure, and kill a Yigo family pet named Pugua and a neighboring cat in September 2018.

The trial court previously dismissed the felony charges, holding that the more serious charges were only available if an animal survived its injuries under Guam law.

The OAG appealed the decision and argued to the Supreme Court that Cruz could be
charged with a felony for ‘seriously injuring’ Pugua even though Pugua eventually succumbed to the injuries and passed away.

In an Opinion issued Tuesday authored by Justice Robert J. Torres and joined by Chief Justice F. Philip Carbullido, the Supreme Court agreed with the OAG holding that, under the plain meaning of the law, it is a felony to cause serious physical injury to an animal even if the animal dies as a result of such injuries. The court reversed the trial court’s decision,
reinstated the felony charges, and remanded the case back to the trial court.

Justice Katherine A. Maraman issued a dissenting opinion, agreeing with the trial court
that the theory of felony abuse for causing serious physical injury to an animal is only
applicable where the animal survives its injuries.

Deputy Attorney General Stephanie Mendiola, who argued the case before the Supreme
Court, said, “Our laws reflect the morals of our society and are a tool to guide our
behaviors. Today’s decision is a significant step in the right direction, recognizing that the
law, as it was written, allows us to continue the fight for justice because harming animals is
behavior unaligned with our morals.”

(OAG Release)