CONSIDERATIONS 1. Problem Definition * Indiscriminate breeding * Public ignorance * Government apathy * Lack of Funding * Limited professionalism * Insufficient infrastructure * Poor organization * Inadequate legal framework 2. Solution Issues * Macro to Micro approach * Legislative initiative to establish requirement * Enforcement mechanism to assure compliance * Financing tools to create and support the infrastructure * Education program to foment understanding and participation A good foundation upon which to build the essential elements of a humane program is paramount if a serious plan is to be effective. The "band-aid" approach is mere lip service to the real problem, and while rewarding to those individuals involved, provides no dent in the overall solution. As in most societal problems, animal welfare is as much an attitude issue as anything else. Attitudes can only be changed over time through a concerted educative program provided that the underlying infrastructure and legal framework exists for the changes to take root.
GENERAL OBJECTIVES 1. Media campaign for Animal Welfare Awareness 2. Establishment of a "Collegio de Albergues" 3. Establishment of an "Animal Control Officer Corps" 4. Strict enforcement of "registration" rules and collection of related fees 5. Immediate implementation of education program in elementary schools 6. Financing for new structures and equipment 7. Legislative Omnibus Animal Welfare Act 8. Private/Municipal Shelter/Animal Welfare Group Initiatives The above categories and the details that follow DO NOT represent the ONLY or DEFINITIVE plan to achieve a more balanced and caring ANIMAL WELFARE PROGRAM for Puerto Rico. However, it serves as a skeleton upon which to build. Given the current lack of attention to animal welfare needs, it is imperative that a strong foundation be laid upon which a realistic plan can be structured to achieve the desired goals. Many activists "fail to see the forest for the trees" as the old saying goes. The concepts address the need for government action but are balanced with Private Sector participation. The issue of funding is found thoughout and is key. Finally, the concepts of rules and regulations are balanced with enforcement and education. Any NEW ideas should be provided with a view to first attempting to place such ideas within ONE of the existing categories above. Those in agreement with any of the stated objectives should feel free to indicate where they can provide support or initiatives. Those not in agreement should clearly state WHY and provide alternatives. In this way a more comprehensive plan can be developed that will truly hold a consensus of all involved. The following pages detail the above areas of interest in developing a comprehensive animal welfare program for Puerto Rico. DETAIL ITEM: Media campaign for Animal Welfare Awareness GOVERNMENT AGENCY: Office of Communications Tourism Department SOURCES: HSUS AHA PETA WSPA OBJECTIVES: Create public awareness of animal welfare related issues Develop public support base and greater participation Inform on actions being taken for problem resolution METHOD: Utilize combined paid and PSA program on Radio, TV and newspaper using matching funds concept where each dollar spent buys equal "free" time. Program must be intensive for 90 days followed by targeted maintenance program. FUNDING: $2 Million allocation from Tourism budget to be matched by equal amount of PSA value. In addition, private animal welfare group participation through TV programs and other established mechanisms should complement the Government program. CURRENT STATUS: CRF will provide 26 segments of 10 minutes each as part of a bi-weekly 30 minute prime-time show concerning the Envronment to be aired on Channel 40 educational TV and affiliates throughout Puerto Rico starting November 1996. PETA will provide Spanish Language "Share of the World" educational program to be distributed to each school. DETAIL: ITEM: Establishment of a "Collegio de Albergues" GOVERNMENT AGENCY: Department of State Legislature Office of the Governor Department of Health SOURCES: AHA HSUS Universities and Tech Schools AVMA/PRVMA OBJECTIVES: To create a working association of animal welfare groups which will license and provide oversight over animal welfare operating entities. METHOD: A compliance board will be established and will include at least one DVM, one representative from the Department of Health and three persons from the private sector with animal welfare credentials. Guidance will be provided by a representative advisor from AHA/HSUS in a non-voting capacity. All shelters will have to meet AHA/HSUS Standards before being eligible for receiving a permit, renewable annually. Training standards will be established and monitored for all shelter personnel with professional status offered following achievemnet levels as follows: Animal Welfare Volunteer (40 hours), Animal Welfare Specialist (160 hours), Animal Welfare Technician (2 years on-the-job plus 160 hours), Animal Welfare Professional (DVM, Vet Tech Certification or equivalent or other acceptable experience). FUNDING: Membership fees, legislative appropriation and funds from the Department of Health will be used to pay a full-time staff and office responsible to: conduct islandwide training in conjunction with AHA/HSUS available programs; provide inspection and compliance services; provide reporting and help coordinate intra-island programs such as mobile clinics, advertising programs, legislative input etc. CURRENT STATUS: CRF will assist in promoting the concept. AHA/HSUS standards need to be translated into Spanish and combined as one standard. DETAIL: ITEM: Establishment of an "Animal Control Officer Corps" GOVERNMENT AGENCY: Legislature Department of Health Department of Natural Resources Supreme Court of Puerto Rico Department of Justice SOURCES: AHA HSUS OBJECTIVE: To establish a uniformed cadre of legally empowered officers to enforce the compliance of aplicable laws and regulations relating to the ownership and welfare of animals. METHOD: Establish by Law a Corps of personnel acting as Officers of the Court charged with the responsibility of investigating and bringing to justice anyone charged with infractions of any law pertaining to the welfare of domestic animals. Wild animal issues would be referred to the Department of Natural Resources for action. The Corps would have adequate training and would be armed and empowered to effect arrests. The Officers would share space with Municipal Guards at Municipal or Regional level outposts. They would report to the Regional District Attorney offices. FUNDING: Funds derived from the mandatory licensing of all pets could be used together with Department of Justice appropriations. STATUS: None DETAIL: ITEM: Strict enforcement of "registration" rules and collection of related fees GOVERNMENT AGENCY: Municipal Governments Department of Hacienda Legislature SOURCES: Veterinarians OBJECTIVE: To establish controls over pet populations and to assure an economic mechanism necessary to provide adequate funding for animal welfare, support and control functions. METHOD: Revise existing Laws to assure that pet registration is required of all Municipalities, set the level of fees appropriate by taking into account type and size of pet, sexual status and location. Incentives would be included for pets to be sterilized and disincentives might be considered for multiple pets in densely populated urban areas. Fines for non-compliance would also be established. Fees would also be established for pet shops and breeders as well. FUNDING: All funds thus collected and paid through the existing Collecturia System to Hacienda would be earmarked to a special fund for distribution to fund the Animal Control Officer Corps, the Collegio de Albergues, Regional Shelters (both Private and Municipal) and the on-going education program. The levels would be determined by historic use and the Office of Management and Budget and included in the Governor's Budget. STATUS: Currently no registration is enforced and only vaccine fees are collected for payment to the PRVMA. DETAIL: ITEM: Immediate implementation of education program in elementary schools. GOVERNMENT AGENCY: Department of Education SOURCES: Universities PETA AHA HSUS OBJECTIVE: To heighten awareness by youth of animal welfare needs and responsible pet ownership as well as to help break the connection between violence towards animals and the later violence towards fellow human beings. METHOD: Develop learning tools for distribution and implementation throughout the first six grades of the public and private school system. Complement this with school involvement in annual vaccination drives, shelter field trip visits, lost pet programs and carreer counseling. Local shelters and animal welfare groups would provide coordinating and leadership roles within their respective geographic locations. FUNDING: Preparation of materials can be funded through national grant programs with local delivery sponsored by animal related or other industrial/commercial partners. STATUS: PETA has a program already prepared in Spanish. CRF is willing to help coordinate local planning and distribution. DETAIL: ITEM: Financing for new structures and equipment GOVERNMENT AGENCY: Legislature Municipal Governments OCAM HUD RDA SOURCES: Private Foundations HSUS AHA (Meacham Grants) Corporate Sponsors Private Fund Raising OBJECTIVE: To develop mechanisms and funds for the construction and operation of an adequate number of professionally managed animal shelters and care facilities. METHOD: Develop an inventory of needs to address the animal control and welfare problem. Develop standard designs and equipment lists including the identification of sources for such materials as well as associated costs. Utilize established means to seek donations and the use of "hand-me-down" concepts. Approach sponsors with professional plans with well defined levels of participation. Involve Municipal governments in seeking RDA funding and assignation of HUD (CDBG) Funds for municipal owned/privately operated facilities. FUNDING: Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) are an ideal source. Rural Development Administration (part of the Federal Department of Agriculture) funds may also be applied for shelter construction and equipment. Finally, some special assignations from the Legislature could also be applied for these purposes. DETAIL: ITEM: Legislative Omnibus Animal Welfare Act GOVERNMENT AGENCY: Legislature SOURCES: HSUS AHA OBJECTIVE: To consolidate all existing (Laws 67 and 36) and proposed legislation into one omnibus law concerning Animal Rights and Regulating Authorities. METHOD: Include assignment of responsibilities at State and Local level, authorities for enforcement, levels of compliance and fines for non-compliance, establishment of regulatory mechanisms including the Collegio de Albergues, Animal Control Officer Corps etc. and funding authorities. FUNDING: None STATUS: The CRF is willing to help lead this initiative in the new legislature follwing elections in November. DETAIL: ITEM: Private/Municipal Shelter/Animal Welfare Group Initiatives GOVERNMENT AGENCY: Municipal Government SOURCES: Local Private Shelters Private Volunteer Groups AHA HSUS PRVMA Veterinarians OBJECTIVE: Develop initiatives to improve current services related to animal welfare METHOD: Conduct forums to enhance communication between all animal welfare related service groups emphasizing cooperation and positive values; make available training seminars and facility evaluations; develop database of existing asset base through increased use of computer technology; share ideas and resources; promote a common and professional front; speak out at public forums on issues and problems related to animal welfare issues. Assure existing organizations fully comply with current laws and regulations. Participate in developing and implementing of a comprehensive Animal Welfare Plan. Create Mobile Vaccination/Sterilization/Rescue Units. Enhance animal rescue and adoption programs. Seek added roles for citizen volunteers. Above all, assure that the public is provided a truthful and professional picture regarding Animal Welfare and the responsibility of each citizen in this regard. FUNDING: Grants and donations.
WORKING GROUPS I. LEGISLATIVE To study existing laws, recommend and draft new laws, statutes and Municipal Ordinances; Review other working group recommendations for legal compliance and practicality; obtain legislative sponsors and executive branch cooperation and action; develop financial mechanisms related to animal registration, control, fines etc.. II. ORGANIZATION AND REGULATION To develop a professional standing for Animal Welfare and Control Organizations through the establishment of: a Colegio de Albergues; professional development standards for personnel involved; standards for certification and operation of shelters and related facilities; and inspection and compliance procedures. III. EDUCATION AND PUBLIC AWARENESS To develop and implement educational materials and programs for distribution through schools and universities; coordinate and promote seminars for professionals; establish a public awareness program for dissemination through the Media; develop a Sponsorship Program applicable to Industry and Private donor groups. IV. SPECIAL PROJECTS To design, coordinate, develop and implement specific projects related to Promoting Animal Welfare such as: Mobile Clinics; Animal Disaster Response Team; Animal Week activities; Operation of Animal Hot Line; developing the Volunteer Animal Welfare Brigades ; integration via computer systems of animal welfare related facilities; assistance in developing additional shelters; assistance in upgrading existing facilities etc.
BACK TO MAIN