Animal rights advocate Nicole Schafer is ready to present her findings to members of the CNMI Legislature if that would convince them to act on House Bill 19-55 or the animal protection bill. She renewed her call to have the CNMI finally have an animal protection law.
Schafer held a brief presentation of the study she made last year as part of her post-graduate thesis—Marianas Dog Attitude Survey, which aims to know the CNMI’s attitude and treatment of dogs.
“I’m happy to present the findings of my survey and study to the Legislature. I’ve been talking to Rep. Ed Propst (Ind-Saipan) and he’s keeping me in the loop since he knows where I stand when it comes to animal welfare,” said Schafer.
She added that people in the CNMI must give it sometime to expect changes if the bill becomes law within the year.
Results of her survey showed that 91.7 percent of people in the CNMI want to have an animal protection law. “We need legislation and enforcement afterwards. The community support is already there. A large part of the community believes dogs feel pain and love.”
She said the island nations of the Bahamas, Dominica, Haiti, Indonesia, St. Maarten, and Samoa have the same issues on animal control and cruelty like the CNMI.
“Free roaming dogs get into a fight, a male could impregnate a female while a female could get pregnant, and worse they could get hit by a car,” said Schafer, who works at the Coastal Resource Management under the Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality.
Her study also showed that 95.2 percent of dogs in the CNMI are strays, while Guam has a little over 93 percent. One stray male or female dog alone could produce 508 puppies a year.
Stray dogs had become a nuisance in several communities as they tear up and scatter trash, defecate everywhere, spread diseases, cause traffic accidents, and scare off tourists.
She said that one way of curbing stray dogs is to have an effective animal control program though spaying and neutering, catching them, putting them in animal shelter or hold free adoptions.
Schafer asked 275 people in the people on their attitude and treatment towards dogs and other animals. A total of 77 percent said they are dog owners, while 25 percent said they have other pets at home.
HB 19-55 covers abuse, beating, inflicting harm, killing, and torturing animals that carry fines ranging from $250 to $1,000.
A study by the Animal Legal Defense Fund in 2015 showed that the CNMI is dead last among the 56 U.S. states and territories when it comes to animal protection laws.