Changes to Cuenca’s proposed animal protection ordinance angered animal rights supporters Tuesday night as the municipal council debated the final wording of the legislation.
The scope of the ordinance was narrowed to cover only household animals, or “companion pets,” and to exclude farm animals. It still provides protections for wildlife. The new definition eliminates controls of legal bull fights and cockfights.
The name of the ordinance was changed to reflect the changes, from Ordenanza para la Protección de Animales Domésticos del Cantón Cuenca, to Ordenanza para el Control y Manejo de la Fauna Urbana y la Protección de Animales Domésticos de Compañía del Cantón Cuenca.
Animal rights advocates, who gathered in council chambers and outside the municipal building, objected to the changes. “This is outrageous,” said Paola Cordova. “The law should consider the lives of all animals, including cows and cuy,” he added. “Even animals that will be killed for food deserve proper treatment since this affects the safety of the food supply.”
Another activist, David Tenemaza, claimed that changes to the ordinance are “a huge step backwards. This insures that animals will continue to be mistreated.”
Councilwoman Monserrat Tello, one of the proponents of the change, said that there are already rules that protect farm animals. She also claimed that enforcing rules for farm animals would be impossible due the large numbers. Representatives of small communities in the Cuenca canton also spoke in favor of eliminating protection for agricultural animals.
Deputy Mayor Ruth Caldas wanted language added from the current animal ordinance to insure that the government has the right to collect street animals and euthanize them if necessary to protect public health. Councilwoman Gabriela Brito, who sponsored the ordinance, wanted euthanization restricted to sick animals but her proposal was rejected.
Language in the ordinance prohibiting the sale of domestic pets in markets and other public places was modified to allow limited sales when the animals are treated humanely.
At the close of Tuesday night’s debate, several issues remained to be resolved by the council.