Guilty Verdict in Puerto Rico Horse Abuse Case

Posted by Stephanie Ulmer, Guest Blogger on October 15, 2010

The Associated Press on September 16th reported that a man accused of dragging a “stubborn” horse alongside his truck has become the first person convicted by a Puerto Rico jury under an animal protection law enacted after dogs were thrown to their deaths from a bridge. Georgenan Lopez, 24, is scheduled to be sentenced in November and could face up to 15 years in prison. The horse has recovered from most of its injuries last February, but it still limps and can never be ridden. Animal activists hailed the conviction as evidence that the U.S. Caribbean territory is slowly, but surely, recognizing animals’ rights and prosecuting cruelty cases.

The animal protection law was approved in August 2008, nearly a year after authorities charged the owner and two employees of a private animal control company with taking away dozens of pet dogs and some cats from public housing projects and throwing them off a bridge. The three were acquitted, and international anger led more than 50,000 people worldwide to sign a petition threatening to boycott travel to the Caribbean island. Tourism officials estimated Puerto Rico lost more than $15 million as a result.

It is possible Lopez will appeal the verdict, but the message remains that people will be prosecuted for mistreating animals, said Yeidy Velazquez, president of Citizens for Animal Shelter in Aguadilla. "It is a triumph for us," she said. And I agree. I remember the infamous bridge incident, and I have kept it in the back of mind, to be pulled up any time Puerto Rico is mentioned. At least there have been steps to turn that tragedy into something positive.


One thought on “Guilty Verdict in Puerto Rico Horse Abuse Case

  1. Tom Lincoln says:

    The AP story reports on comments made by the PR Bar association new President to the effect that he would have the Bar association urge lawmakers to lessen the penalties for such crimes. This is truly disheartening and apparently shows the President’s ignorance of the “fact” that PR’s current Animal Protection Law and all of the penalties were drafted completely by the members of the PR Bar Association’s Special Commission of Animal Rights and then passed on to select legislators to push as their own through our Senate and House. It is also modeled on ALDF’s Model Law. I know this because I was a member of said commission at the time and participated in the drafting of the law. The judge simply applied the law and it is a good thing. The fact that the horse survived is not the issue. This was NOT a case of someone having tied a horse to the back of a truck and then forgetting the truck was tied there.

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