SAN JUAN – Activists are demanding that Puerto Rico’s government educate the public about animal rights after the commonwealth was listed as the U.S. territory providing the least protection for animals.
The Humane Society of the United States, or HSUS, released a ranking of states and territories with the best and worst standards for animal welfare, and Puerto Rico was at the bottom.
“As someone who protects and defends animal rights, I feel very frustrated by that ranking,” Marjorie Andino Arenas, director of the Brownie Blondie Foundation rescue group, told EFE.
California topped the HSUS animal protection rankings in a survey with 88 criteria linked to public policies on animals.
The criteria included the imposition of fines for crimes, such as cockfights, keeping wild and dangerous animals as pets, and extreme confinement of farm animals, and regulations on dog breeding.
Oregon was in second place in the HSUS report, while Virginia and Massachusetts were tied for third place.
“Puerto Ricans do not understand that an animal becomes part of the family,” Andino said, adding that statistics gathered by animal protection groups showed that about 300,000 stray dogs live on the island’s streets.
Act 154 of 2008, known as the Animal Welfare and Protection Act, is the only law in Puerto Rico regulating the treatment of creatures on the island, animal rights groups said.