Guam animal lovers take to the street to protest dog killing
Two year old Pugua, a former resident of Yigo is dead, but as drivers on Marine Corps Drive, social media followers, the residents of Yigo Village, legislators and a lot of other people on the island are well aware, this beloved pet dog, shot dead on private property, is far from forgotten.
Pugua's bloody body, pictured on the floor of a neighbor's carport last September hit social media and other animals were shot and killed in the same neighborhood.
Gerald Wayne Cruz II was arrested and charged with felony animal cruelty under Guam law, but this month, Judge Michael Bordallo of Guam Superior Court surprised and shocked many by dismissing the charges, arguing that there was no proof that the animals suffered before dying due to their shooting by Cruz.
A widely quoted comment by Guam Animals in Need board member Cyrus Luhr: "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."
That interpretation has the Guam Attorney General's Office scrambling to respond: "The OAG stands by its decision that the facts of the case support the charges of two counts of animal cruelty as a third-degree felony with a special allegation of the possession or use of a deadly weapon (per count) in the commission of a felony and unsworn falsification as a misdemeanor," said AGO Spokesperson Carlina Charfauros.
Pugua's former owners, Nathan and Alexie Mapson, don't appear ready to let this stand and are pushing, at minimum for a tightening of Guam animal cruelty law. Alexie Mapson, near tears, was at the demonstration:
"I understand legally why, because the way the law is currently written, you have to prove that the animal suffered, but my problem is not so much with the judge as with the law. It doesn't matter if the animal suffered. You set out maliciously to kill an animal. It caused me suffering, it caused my husband suffering. My neighbors live in fear. They've changed their schedule, they've installed cameras. It caused suffering for a lot of people, so I don't understand why it isn't cruel."
Wednesday's demonstration, during rush hour traffic in front of Chamorro Village in Hagatna, doesn't appear likely to be the last on this issue and Judge Bordallo, who will face a judicial retention election, will be hearing about it too.