It’s been a year since Cuenca’s new animal protection ordinance went into effect but critics say few of the formal complaints are being investigated.
Of the 238 complaints filed by the public, legal action has been taken on only eight cases while the rest have been dismissed, mostly without an investigation.
“The law should protect animals but the government seems more interested in protecting itself,” says Jorge Ramos, an animal rights activist who was instrumental in pushing the ordinance through the municipal council last year. “People are filing actions but there is no investigation and no follow-up,” he says.
Municipal councilwoman Gabriela Brito admits there is miniumal enforcement of the ordinance and is meeting with city officials, including representatives of the Environmental Management Commission (CGA) and the Municipal Cleaning Company of Cuenca (EMAC) in hopes of finding solutions. “There are many outstanding issues,” she says, “and it’s true that the animals are not being protected as they should be.”
According to CGA, the poor enforcement is the result of lack of documents filed in complainants. Brito says that the requirements for those filing complaints need to be simplified. “The burden needs to be on those who abuse animals, not on those making the complaints.”
Besides a lack of enforcement, Ramos says other requirements of the ordinance are not being fulfilled. When the legislation was enacted it, set a goal of sterilizing 2,000 pets a year but only 480 procedures have been carried out during the first year.
In addition, he says no action has been taken for finding a location for the animal shelter mandated by the ordinance.