The U.S. Navy has begun investigating a July 21 incident involving a sailor allegedly attacking a dog in Yigo, according to the Joint Region Marianas.
"We are fully cooperating with local authorities, who have the investigative lead," said Richard Moore, public affairs officer at JRM. "We expect our personnel to uphold the highest standards of conduct both on and off duty."
According to Guam Animals in Need, a neighborhood dog named Walter was brutally attacked in broad daylight and died of his injuries over 24 hours later. GAIN is calling for aggressive local and military investigations to bring the attacker to justice. Children in the neighborhood found the dog on July 22. He had slit on the side and back of his neck. Walter was an old, arthritic boonie mix, he was small in stature and had a gentle personality.
"He knew how to sit and shake hands on command, leading residents to believe he'd once been owned and abandoned when his family left Guam. He spent his days sleeping in carports, playing with children as young as 7, and was fed by four to five families along the street," GAIN said. When he was discovered bleeding, the children rushed to their parents, who were shocked to find the extent of Walter's injuries; a severe knife cut along the back and side of his neck exposed deep muscle and bone. The neighborhood mobilized, and multiple households helped place Walter in a kennel and rush him to a local veterinary clinic. However, his injuries were too great to overcome, and he was euthanized to end his suffering. ADVERTISEMENT
"We're told that when Walter was found, he was clearly in pain, but he approached the families he recognized and wagged his tail. He still trusted humans. But, he was unable to lift his head due to the injuries to his neck," said Cyrus Luhr, GAIN board president. Based on text messages with the suspected attacker and other evidence, it's believed that Walter was attacked with a large hunting knife the afternoon prior, in broad daylight. For over 24 hours, he suffered with a 10-inch-long gash along his neck that cut nearly to his spine. GAIN calls for immediate, aggressive investigations and prosecution of this case. "The evidence is damning, and we're asking that local and military authorities aggressively pursue justice," said Luhr. "The monster who did this needs to be arrested and held accountable before more animals or people are hurt," he added. The suspected attacker currently serves in the military and is stationed in Guam. GAIN has received second-hand information that the military is declining to investigate the matter. "We hope this information is incorrect, and GAIN is following up with the Admiral's Office to confirm whether or not the suspect will be investigated. The military should never ignore reports of animal cruelty committed by their personnel. Obviously, if someone is sick enough to attempt to behead a friendly old dog, they are dangerously disturbed and have no place serving in our armed forces," said Luhr. ADVERTISEMENT
GAIN continues to advocate for Bill 185-35, the PAWS Act (also known as Pugua's Law), which is currently being reviewed by the Office of the Attorney General of Guam. Once adopted, the measure will modernize animal cruelty laws in Guam.
The bill, also known as the Protecting Animal Welfare and Safety (PAWS) Act, was introduced exactly a year ago today by Sen. Sabina Perez, following the killing of a dog named Pugua in Yigo.
The suspect in the case was exonerated by the court.
The PAWS Act improves three key areas of Guam’s animal cruelty laws. It clarifies Guam’s existing standards for animal cruelty, and includes a new distinction between animal abuse and animal neglect to more easily allow for citations of the latter. The bill adds new restrictions against bestiality and increases penalties for severe animal abusers who have a history of family or sexual violence. Exemptions remain the same as found in current law, including for self-defense, hunting, and cockfighting.