Puerto Rico Pet Massacre

  • by: Nadia Donato
  • target: The Honorable Aníbal Acevedo-Vilá, Governor of Puerto Rico


** Please Circulate this Petition Far & Wide ** This Petition will Remain Open until ALL those Responsible are Brought to Justice **


We are absolutely outraged to hear of the news about the horrific massacre of family pets in Puerto Rico as reported by the Associated Press on October 12, 2007. Early in the week, raids were conducted in several homes of Barceloneta's housing projects. Animal control workers confiscated dozens of beloved dogs and cats from their families, some infront of crying children. These precious pets were then rounded up and thrown off a bridge at a neighboring town, hurling them 50 feet to their deaths. 

We call on The Honorable Aníbal Acevedo-Vilá, Governor of Puerto Rico to do everything in his power to see to it that this atrocity is not taken lightly. We demand a thorough investigation, vigorous prosecution and seek the maximum penalties of jail time and fines to those responsible for this most cruel and inhumane act of felony animal abuse offense as per Puerto Rico's statute cruelty law 439. 

We also demand a thorough and INDEPENDENT investigation and bring to justice the city officials responsible for organizing and authorizing a blanket pet ban and mass confiscation which are against the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development rules.

We cry for the innocent lives lost in such a cruel and unspeakable manner.  Our hearts go out to the poor families of Barceloneta's housing projects whose only crime was give shelter to the desperate strays and made them part of their family. They were guilty of saving these animals' lives and gave them what little they have, only to have their civil rights violated and their hearts crushed. This tragedy would have never happened if humane programs existed on the island.

In light of this horror, we hope that the government officials of Puerto Rico will finally take action and enforce strict laws against animal cruelty as well as implement humane programs to ensure that this heinous act does not  happen again. Puerto Rico should begin with funding adequate TNR (trap, neuter/spay, return) method of preventing over-population, build shelters for strays and enforce pet registration laws. Such programs are not only legal and humane, but are more cost-effective than hiring thugs to break into homes and massacre pets!

Governor, the world is watching.


PET MASSACRE IN PUERTO RICO
By OMAR MARRERO, Associated Press, October 12, 2007

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico--  Animal control workers seized dozens of dogs and cats from housing projects in the town of Barceloneta and hurled them from a bridge to their deaths, authorities and witnesses said Friday. Mayor Sol Luis Fontanez blamed a contractor hired to take the animals to a shelter.

Fontanez said the city hired Animal Control Solution to clear three housing projects of pets after warning residents about a no-pet policy. He said the city paid $60 for every animal recovered and another $100 for each trip to a shelter in the San Juan suburb of Carolina.

Raids were conducted on Monday and Wednesday, and residents told TV reporters they saw the animal control workers inject the animals. When they asked what they were giving them, they said they were told it was a sedative for the drive to the shelter.

"They came as if it were a drug raid," said Alma Febus, an animal welfare activist. "They took away dogs, cats and whatever animal they could find. Some pets were taken away in front of children."

But instead of being taken to a shelter, the pets and strays were thrown 50 feet from a bridge in the neighboring town of Vega Baja, according to Fontanez, witnesses and activists, apparently before dawn Tuesday.

"Many were already dead when they threw them, but others were alive," said Jose Manuel Rivera, who lives next to the bridge. "Some of the animals managed to climb to the highway even though they were all battered, but about 50 animals remained there, dead." Full story.


*** UPDATES ***
(It gets worst!! This atrocity is NOT an isolated case--it's RAMPANT!!)

Pet Massacres Carried Out in Puerto Rico
AP Impact: Puerto Rican Companies Brutally Killed Thousands of Dogs & Cats, Ex-Workers Say
By YAISHA VARGAS and ANDREW O. SELSKY Associated Press Writers
TRUJILLO ALTO, Puerto Rico Nov 14, 2007 (AP)

Back roads, gorges and garbage dumps on this tropical island are littered with the decaying carcasses of dogs and cats. An Associated Press investigation reveals why: possibly thousands of unwanted animals have been tossed off bridges, buried alive and otherwise inhumanely disposed of by taxpayer-financed animal control programs.

Witnesses who spoke with the AP said that, despite pledges to deliver adoptable strays to shelters and humanely euthanize the rest, the island's leading private animal control companies generally did neither.

A police investigation into the Barceloneta killings has not led to charges, but police Sgt. Wilbert Miranda, who heads the probe, said the information gathered so far indicates Animal Control Solutions was responsible. He declined to give details.

Activist Alfredo Figueroa said the animal disposal companies acted with impunity because government agencies ignored allegations of cruelty, rather than investigate the companies or address the overpopulation of strays. "There is apathy," Figueroa said. "No one wants to take responsibility."

A former employee of one of Diaz's companies told the AP that the firms rounded up thousands of animals over the years, brutally killed many of them and discarded the corpses wherever it was convenient. One of the former employees led the AP to two different killing fields and he and another former employee described a third.

"Not a single animal was turned over to a shelter," a former dogcatcher for Animal Control Solutions told the AP. Both he and an ex-employee of Pet Delivery, who was interviewed separately, spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation. Both said they left the animal disposal jobs voluntarily.

The AP contacted all eight animal shelters and sanctuaries across Puerto Rico, and they confirmed that none had received animals for potential adoption from Diaz's companies.

Diaz co-founded Pet Delivery in 1999 and created Animal Control Solutions in 2002. Pet Delivery appears to be defunct, having reported no earnings since 2004. Facing little competition, the companies had 85 contracts with municipalities and other clients worth $1.1 million in the past eight years, according to the Puerto Rican comptroller's office.

The pet disposal scandal adds to Puerto Rico's poor reputation for treatment of animals. Cockfighting is legal, with matches shown on television. One of the island's beaches is known as Dead Dog Beach a place where teenagers drive over live puppies sealed in bags or cruelly kill them with machetes and arrows, according to animal welfare groups that photographed the atrocities.

Figueroa says he met Diaz in 1999 and introduced him to city officials in Fajardo. The city then awarded Pet Delivery a contract to remove strays. But Figueroa said he later learned that Diaz's company also was removing pets with collars and ID tags, and dumping their bodies in a field.

"Crying children, old people, a sick woman were all calling us, thinking we were involved," Figueroa said.

A former Animal Control Solutions employee told the AP that he witnessed another worker in 2005 dragging 12 to 15 small dogs out of a van along a road outside San Juan. Normally, workers injected animals with a euthanasia drug but on this day there was none. The animals were instead given an overdose of a sedative and flung 50 feet into a trash-filled gully. Some of the dogs were alive as they crashed on top of junked beds, bottles and other garbage.

"I could hear some of the dogs whimpering as they hit the tree branches and then the ground," the former employee said as he stood with AP journalists in the muck at the site, which still holds the stench of death.

Not all the dogs died, however. A dog that was not a stray, but a sickly pet whose owner wanted it euthanized, managed to limp home. The angry owner telephoned the company and demanded it retrieve the dog and do the job right, the former employee recalled.

The former employee also showed AP reporters a highway rest stop near a gorge outside the town of Cayey where, he said, workers would inject dogs. At the edge of the gorge lay the skeletal remains of more than a dozen dogs amid matted fur and two dog collars with no tags. PLEASE READ THE FULL STORY!


ABC News Video- Pet Massacre in PR Sparks Fury
Thousands have signed an online petition demanding the Governor to ensure that those responsible be brought to justice. Watch Video.


Investigation into Puerto Rico Pet Massacre Zeros in on
Animal Control Solutions
Associated Press, October 19, 2007

Excerpts:  Several people from the town of Barceloneta identified their dogs from among animals found dead or injured beneath the highway bridge, Sgt. Wilbert Miranda told The Associated Press.

Miranda also said local veterinarians confirmed some of the animals were from the housing projects, where local authorities hired the contractor, Animal Control Services, to pick up dogs and cats to enforce a rule banning them from the projects.

...The animal cruelty investigation is ongoing and no arrests been made, Miranda said. Asked if the evidence points to Animal Control Solutions, he said: "That's the way it is, I can assure you." Full story


Fury Spreads in Puerto Rico Pet Massacre
By YAISHA VARGAS, Associated Press, October 17, 2007

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico - The fury over the massacre of dozens of seized dogs and cats in Puerto Rico has gone global. Thousands of people from Puerto Rico and around the world have signed an online petition calling on the governor of the U.S. Caribbean territory to ensure those who hurled some 80 pets off a highway bridge last week are brought to justice. Full story.


Protesters Denounce Mayor as Outrage Grows over
Pet Massacre in Puerto Rico

By ANDREW O. SELSKY, Associate Press, October 15, 2007

Excerpts:  (Mayor) Fontanez, who pledged to resign if his government is found responsible, blamed a contractor hired to collect and euthanize the pets.

Fontanez said the seizure was ordered in line with Puerto Rican regulations for government-supported housing.

But the housing projects also receive funding from the U.S. government, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development in Washington said it does not have a no-pet policy and would not authorize a mass confiscation of animals.

"We're not only tremendously upset but deeply disgusted at the idea of anyone doing this to innocent animals," department spokesman Brian Sullivan said. "We're waiting for answers like everyone else."

Tourism industry condemns act:
"This truly unfortunate incident is an isolated one and this is the first time that the island has encountered such a situation," the statement said. Full story.

(Note: After the AP's Nov. 14 report, Mayor Fontanez is still in office and the Puerto Rico Tourism board has yet to retract its statement.) 
 

**THE PLIGHT OF PUERTO RICO'S STRAYS (Some Background)**
(I'm certain the Governor did not personally authorize this atrocious massacre, but is there any reason why he can't keep it from ever happening again?)

Stray dogs the Latest Souvenir from Puerto Rico
Associated Press, September 28, 2007

Excerpts:
  At Yabucoa Beach (Dead Dog Beach), scores of dogs roam an abandoned marina, surviving on garbage scraps and drinking from salty puddles but attracting little public sympathy or attention from Puerto Rico's government.

There's no pet registration law in Puerto Rico and little spaying or neutering, so animal shelters are overwhelmed and must kill many of the dogs they receive, said Victor Collazo, president of the island's Association of Medical Veterinarians. Full story.


***  WHAT YOU CAN DO ***

- Sign & Forward this Petition to Everyone you know.

- Demand Justice and Reform to protect all animals: both strays and pets, as well as support the caring residents of Puerto Rico. Contact:

Gov. Anibal Acevedo Vilá
Office of the Governor
La Fortaleza
P.O. Box 9020082
San Juan, PR00902-0082
Phone: 787-721-7000
Fax: 787-721-5072
Email: http://www.fortaleza.gobierno.pr/anibal04.htm (webform)

(Nombre= First Name, Apellido= Last Name, Comentario= Comment)


Department of Justice - Puerto Rico
Attorney Kendys Pimentel (Prosecutor)
Email: Kpimentel@justicia.gobierno.pr
Phone: 787-721-7771


- You may BOYCOTT traveling to Puerto Rico until something is done to protect the animals and let the government tourism agency know of your intention:

Terestella Gonzalez Denton
Executive Director
Compañía de Turismo de Puerto Rico
PO Box 4435
San Juan, PR 00902-4435
Phone: 787-721-2400
Fax: 787-722-6238
Terestella.Gonzalez@prtourism.com


- Support Puerto Rican animal welfare organizations (scroll down to Puerto Rico) and help them continue their life saving work. You do not need to be in Puerto Rico to help. In addition to making monetary donations, you can volunteer remotely for many of these agencies.

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