Court dismisses case against serial pet killer
Judge Bordallo says "only shooting a dog or shooting a cat" does not prove cruelty
Pugua was shot dead on Sept. 27, 2018 Photo courtesy of GAIN
The Guam Superior Court on Monday dismissed all felony charges against a man who was indicted in a series of dog and cat shootings in Yigo last year, arguing that the case failed to establish intentional acts of cruelty.
“It is difficult to think of a less cruel way to kill an animal than death by gunshot,” Superior Court Judge Michael Bordallo said, ruling on the test case of animal cruelty on Guam.
In acquitting Gerald Wayne Cruz II, the judge said the indictment accused Cruz “only of shooting a dog or shooting a cat” and that his action did not establish intention to inflict “mental and physical sufferings on the animals.”
Cruz was charged with animal cruelty in connection with the shooting death of a family pet named “Pugua” on Sept. 27, 2018 in Yigo. More animals were later found fatally gunned down in the same neighborhood and subsequent investigation led to Cruz’s arrest.
“The magistrate complaint states that the defendant shot the cat threw its body in his truck and drove off. Apparently, the cat died immediately and the indictment offers no facts that either the cat or dog suffered before dying or that the defendant intended they suffer,” the ruling states.
“If the defendant were accused of shooting to maim or shooting to injure the animal, the case might be different,” Bordallo said, citing a Pennsylvania ruling that backed a rancher who protects his livestock by shooting a dog.
In a grand jury indictment, Cruz admitted to killing neighborhood cats. His wife confirmed she saw him shoot and kill neighborhood pet dogs, including Pugua.
The Guam Animals in Need frowned on the the court’s decision, arguing that the Pennsylvania ruling “should not apply to the Yigo pet killings, and that the ruling ignores numerous stateside legal precedents in which shooting a pet is considered a felony.”
GAIN is asking the Office of the Attorney General to appeal Bordallo’s decision.
“This is a dangerous ruling,” said Cyrus Luhr, GAIN board president. “According to this interpretation, it’s a felony to shoot your neighbor’s pet in the leg, but a misdemeanor to shoot it in the head.”
He cited Guam law, which states “A person is guilty of first-degree animal abuse if he intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causes serious physical injury to an animal, cruelly causes its death, or tortures it.”
“Imagine someone trespassing onto your property and killing your family pet,” Luhr said. “This ruling effectively makes this heinous act a slap-on-the-wrist misdemeanor, as long as the killer is a good shot. It’s a bizarre interpretation that ignores the spirit of the law.”
Luhr noted that the serial killings of dogs and cats in Yigo did not constitute mercy killings or actions in self-defense.
“The killer trespassed onto private property with a gun, and executed Pugua mere feet from a family’s front door,” Luhr said. “The Yigo pet killings were monstrous, unjustifiably cruel acts. It’s absurd to claim these shootings weren’t ‘cruel’ simply because these pets may have died quickly,” Luhr said.