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Guam legislature passes PAWS Act

Federal spending bill includes stricter enforcement of anti-cruelty laws

Guam senators today passed a bill that would overhaul Guam’s animal cruelty laws, amid increasing incidents of pet killings and other forms of animal abuse on island.

Bill 185-35, titled Protecting Animal Welfare and Safety (PAWS) Act seeks to strengthen Guam’s laws to properly protect animals.

The bill, also known as Pugua's law, was prompted by last year's killing of a dog owned by a Yigo family. Loopholes in the law resulted in the acquittal of the alleged dog killer.

The Guam Animals in Need has since reported a number pet killings on island.

The PAWS Act , authored by Sen. Sabina Perez, 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. It also adds new pre-conviction processes, which include procedures for properly seizing abused animals and ensuring for their care. it also establishes post-conviction processes, which include provisions for community service, education, registration for felony convictions, and court-ordered mental health care and treatment.

According to a press release from the senator's office, the bill is the product of extensive work with numerous stakeholders and legal professionals, including the Office of the Attorney General of Guam.

"Our community is hurt and outraged by recent reports of animal cruelty cases. These traumatic incidents highlight the need to better address violence towards animals. The PAWS Act is our effort to update our laws to meet the moral and ethical standards our community expects of our statutes," Perez said.

"The impact of the PAWS Act will be far-reaching. Studies show a staggeringly high correlation between animal cruelty and domestic vio