GUAM—Last Monday, Feb. 11, Judge Michael Bordallo dismissed all felony charges against Gerald Wayne Cruz II relating to a string of animal shootings in Yigo last year.
On Sept. 27, 2018, a pet dog named Pugua was found shot dead in a Yigo family’s carport. More animals were later found fatally gunned down in the same neighborhood. Following a high-profile two-week search, GPD arrested Cruz.
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.
Guam law 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.” First-degree animal abuse is a felony. Numerous states use the same type of language to successfully prosecute similar cases.
But in last week’s ruling, Bordallo dismissed all felony charges related to the killings, arguing that Pugua and other pets shot by Cruz were not killed “cruelly” because there is no proof these animals suffered before dying.
Guam Animals In Need, or GAIN, is calling upon the Guam attorney general to appeal the decision.
“This is a dangerous ruling,” said GAIN board president 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.”
“Imagine someone trespassing onto your property and killing your family pet,” added Luhr. “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.”
In dismissing the charges, Bordallo cited a Pennsylvania ruling supporting a rancher who protects his livestock by shooting a dog. GAIN maintains that the example 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.
“These weren’t mercy killings, or done in self-defense. The killer trespassed onto private property with a gun, and executed Pugua mere feet from a family’s front door. 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,’” said Luhr.
GAIN asks the Office of the Attorney General to continue pursuing the case. The non-profit animal welfare organization also intends to work with local policymakers to update the law to prevent similar future rulings.
Pugua’s owners, Nathan and Alexie Mapson, continue to feel the loss of their beloved pet. “I miss my fuzzy buddy every day,” said Nathan Mapson. “But I think we can use this evil act to change the laws and our attitudes toward the mistreatment of animals.”
“Guam has such a loving and welcoming culture that really values family and religion,” added Alexie Mapson, “so I don’t understand how this violent killing could ever be considered a simple misdemeanor.” (PR)