Animal welfare bill passes on first reading in the legislature

Lawmakers passed on first reading Tuesday the 5-year-old animal welfare law.

The high-profile measure now goes to the Sala IV, which will determine in 30 days if there are any constitutional flaws.

The measure is full of exceptions. For example, the bill exempts fishing, fish farming, cattle and other livestock practices and veterinarians. It also permits killing animals for mercy, for sanitary control, for research and to safeguard the public health.

Also exempted are public or private shows that have been authorized. This would include a rodeo and traditional activities like topes, the notorious bull baitings, various forms of horse races and oxcart activities. Killing an animal for personal consumption also is exempted from penalties.

Cock fights are specifically made illegal, even though they are already. But the proposed bill has criminal sanctions that can be applied if it ends up as law.

The principal goal is to penalize those who cause damage or pain to animals. The bill received backing from 50 of 54 lawmakers.

There has been public pressure in support of the bill, particularly after some well publicized animal injuries.

Those who cause the death of an animal can face six months to two years of prison, and there are fines specified for other mistreatments.

Animals owners are required to provide water and minimal care as well as handle the animal wastes.There also are provisions for adequate housing.

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