The CNMI is dead last among the 56 U.S. states and territories when it comes to animal protection laws based on a 2015 study by the Animal Legal Defense Fund and Rep. Edwin K. Propst (Ind.-Saipan) is hoping to turn that around.
Speaking during a program meeting by the Soroptimist International of Northern Mariana Islands with the Saipan Cares for Animals, CNMI, Propst said an animal cruelty bill was first introduced more than a decade ago but failed to gain momentum.
Former Pet Assistance and Welfare Services secretary-treasurer Bobbie Grizzard added that an animal protection bill was also filed several times but did not push through. Similar bills were introduced from the 13th to 16th legislature but it just gathered dust.
Former representative Stanley T. Torres also filed a similar bill, House Bill 17-35, in 2010 but after the bill passed in the 17th House of Representatives, no more action was done.
An animal protection law would criminalize any unnecessary harm or killing of an animal in the CNMI. If it becomes a law, it would give penalties for animal abuse or torture, neglect, and pet theft.
Propst said that Rep. Edwin P. Aldan (Ind.-Tinian), the House Committee on Natural Resources chairman, assured him that his bill would be up for discussion.
“That’s why I’m asking all animal lovers to show their support once the bill gains ground. It will be up for debate and discussion, then if it passes the House it will move to the Senate and I believe it would be smooth sailing from there,” said Propst.
SCA, which took over the non-profit status of PAWS late last year, is supporting Propst’s bill as it would help them to further educate the community in the humane treatment of animals.
SCA, the Humane Society International, and several other volunteers are currently assisting the Saipan Mayor’s Office’s Animal Control Office in taking care of the 57 dogs left at the animal shelter in Lower Base.
“We could not have done it without the support Mayor [David M.] Apatang. We also received a ton of support from the community and to people from the states who have been sending food, leashes and other equipment to help us take care of these animals,” said SCA president Jason Huddy.
“We are now waiting for the shelter to be renovated since it is really in bad shape right now after the Typhoon. We heard that the money is there and hopefully the process for the renovation would get moving.”
He added that Guam veterinarians Dr. Jennifer Landis and veterinarian technician Bambi Leone has been spaying and neutering dogs since Jan. 4 and they are also holding pet vaccinations every Saturday from 2pm to 6pm at a cost of $30.