Gov’t advisory group for animal protection sued for release of public info
By The Star Staff
The Vínculo Animal PR Organization, a group that promotes animal rights, has sued the Advisory Group for Animal Protection and Welfare in the local courts under the Law of Transparency and Access to Public Information.
The lawsuit filed on Monday contends that the advisory group has failed to release public information and documentation related to its mission to implement a public policy of sensitivity and protection toward animals, specifically to provide initiatives that help curb the overpopulation of animals in Puerto Rico.
The legal appeal requests that the members of the advisory group, which is chaired by Dr. José V. Arce, president of the Veterinary Doctors Association of Puerto Rico, be ordered to deliver documents of a public nature such as reports, documents or related communications on the investigations and findings made about the animal problem on the island. The group is also seeking reports on on-site inspections of the Puerto Rico Zoo, recommendations and preliminary action plans to the governor, the evaluations and recommendations on the functions of the State Office for Animal Control (OECA by its Spanish initials), meetings, alliances and collaborative agreements with organizations of animal welfare, and consultations with specialists in animal law and science, among other information.
“Access to information of a public nature, in this case related to the duty of the State in the face of animal problems in the country, provides us with the necessary knowledge to demand responsibility and promote citizen participation,” said Sahir Pujols Vázquez, president of Vínculo Animal PR. “Captive animals in the PR Zoo and in the Cambalache Forest, as well as abandoned animals, are under the custody of the State. Its role, therefore, is to intervene and act on their behalf, just as it is called to do in the face of human vulnerability issues.”
Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia created the advisory group in May 2021 through Executive Order 2021-033 (OE-2021-033) to seek the protection of animals.
“This government seeks sensitivity in all its aspects and there are more and more homeless animals that lack food, water and veterinary care, which has the consequence that there are a large number of these in poor health, presenting conditions such as scabies, malnutrition or injuries as a result of car accidents or abuse,” the governor said at the time. “Therefore, this problem requires the immediate attention of this government, which we seek with the appointment of Dr. Arce and the creation of the Advisory Group.”
The advisory group’s main mission is to monitor and implement different initiatives that help curb the overpopulation of wild animals, including a registry of animals, sterilization, and an educational campaign to promote their health, care and protection.