A CNMI House of Representatives committee adopted last Tuesday a measure to protect animals from cruelty and theft.
Rep. Edwin K. Propst’s (Ind-Saipan) House Bill 20-24, the first of its kind in the CNMI, seeks to prevent the cruelty and theft of animals.
According to the bill, intentionally mistreating, abandoning, or neglecting an animal belonging to any person would be guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $500, 250 hours of community service at an animal shelter.
However, if an individual causes the death or serious bodily injury of an animal; has prior conviction of animal cruelty; or engages or promotes dog fighting, then the individual would be guilty of a misdemeanor and ordered to pay at least $500 but not more than $1,000 and perform 500 hours of community service at an animal shelter.
The bill also protects law enforcement officers and allows them to enter private properties, including cars, with or without a warrant, to rescue an animal from “inhumane and cruel conditions.”
The Judiciary and Governmental Operations Committee amended the bill to include protection for farmers by exempting animals slaughtered for either farming and husbandry or culture and tradition. The exemption also encompasses lawful hunting, fishing, or trapping practices; lawful cockfighting; lawful research or teaching; an act of self-defense; and if it is a means for pest control.
The bill’s author, Propst, told Saipan Tribune last Tuesday that he also plans to introduce an amendment once the House gathers for action on his bill. He said the amendment would prohibit the use of domesticated animals for human consumption.
“Dogs are supposed to be man’s best friend,” said Propst. “They are not acceptable as food. That is an amendment I will try to pass.”
JGO committee chair Rep. Ivan A. Blanco (R-Saipan) told Saipan Tribune that several members of the public have reached out to him in support the bill.
“The final product as adopted, after much tweaking, is something we’re proud of because it protects pets and balances our cultural and traditional practices of farming and husbandry. This is a good compromise bill and the JGO members are pleased with the final product,” said Blanco, adding that he looks forward to the full support of the House and Senate members.
JGO adopted H.B. 20-24 unanimously. Its members include Reps. John Paul Sablan (R-Saipan), Francisco Aguon (R-Saipan), Edwin Aldan (R-Tinian), Blas Jonathan Attao (Ind-Saipan), Jose Itibus (R-Saipan), minority leader Rep. Edmund Villagomez (Ind-Saipan), and Blanco.
Attao, Sablan, and Villagomez, along with Reps. Lorenzo Deleon Guerrero (Ind-Saipan), Joseph “Leepan” Guerrero (R-Saipan), Gregorio M. Sablan Jr. (R-Saipan), and Vinson Sablan (Ind-Saipan) co-signed the bill.