Animal Legal Defense Fund Applauds Improvements to Guam's Anti-Cruelty LawsMarch 1st, 2011
After Being Named One of America’s “Best Places to be An Animal Abuser,” Guam Passes Tough New Animal Protection Measure
For immediate release
Lisa Franzetta, Animal Legal Defense Fund
Stephan Otto, Animal Legal Defense Fund
San Francisco – Last week, the Guam Legislature voted unanimously to pass Senate Bill 9, which dramatically strengthens the territory's laws protecting animals. Once the bill is signed into law, Guam will finally join the list of U.S. jurisdictions with felony animal abuse penalties. The new felony penalty will apply to not only cases involving cruelty, but also neglect of an animal which results in his or her serious physical injury or death. Guam had ranked 52nd out of 56 in the Animal Legal Defense Fund's (ALDF) 2010 rankings report on the strength and comprehensiveness of the laws of each state and territory in the U.S.—leading Guam to be named one of the nation’s “best places to be an animal abuser.” These new improvements will likely lead to a significant upward movement for Guam in this year's rankings.
In addition to the new felony penalties, Guam’s new legislation makes animal abandonment a misdemeanor; authorizes law enforcement seizure of mistreated animals, and adopts robust minimum care standards and other definitions which mirror much of what is contained in ALDF's model animal protection laws. Guam also just passed a bill to ban commerce in shark fins.
“We commend Guam for adding real teeth to their laws protecting animals,” says Stephan Otto, ALDF’s director of legislative affairs. “This law sends notice that Guam is serious about protecting animals and in ensuring that those who abuse them are appropriately punished.”
Along with Guam, American Samoa, the Northern Mariana Islands, Kentucky, North Dakota, Idaho, and Mississippi were singled out in ALDF’s most recent rankings report for their weak laws protecting animals. While Guam’s bill is a significant step forward, there still remain areas that can be improved upon to make Guam safer for both animals and people and to reduce the burden on the groups helping the island’s animals.