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Mayor Apatang weighs in on animal-cruelty bill

SAIPAN Mayor David M. Apatang has raised concerns regarding the bill introduced by Rep. Edwin Propst that would prohibit cruelty and theft of animals in the CNMI.

In his written comments to the House Committee on Judiciary and Governmental Operations headed by Rep. Ivan Blanco, the mayor said lawmakers should also consider the islands’ traditional practices.

“Since time immemorial, our people have practiced backyard slaughtering of farm-raised animals for family sustenance, parties, rosaries, fiestas, etc. and so we need to be extra careful and sensitive about enacting legislation that might inadvertently prohibit the practice,” the mayor said.

David Apatang

Apatang recommended the inclusion in the bill, H.B. 20-24, of the phrase “or traditional practice” after “in accordance with the American Veterinary Medical Association standards in § 3116 (f) (2).”

The mayor also asked the committee to add the Office of the Mayor of Saipan to the definition of “office” in Section 3 (f) of the bill.

“We believe we should look at the definition of office and make sure that we are explicitly included, rather than included subject to interpretation of the intended meaning of the word,” he said.

Apatang said the inclusion of the mayor’s office is important because “our office is a separate level of government from the CNMI government.”

He also recommended narrowing the definition of officer to exclude “officer of a humane society” and clarifying the definition a bit more by specifying what an “officer of a pound or animal regulation department of a public agency” is and simply stating “office of the mayor of Saipan, or Tinian, Aguiguan, or Rota.”

He added, “By keeping the current definition in the bill, we believe potential problems and questions will arise as to who or what offices are, as used in the legislation, when the bill has been enacted into law.”

Under the bill, a court may require an offender to seek psychological evaluation and counseling.

But Apatang said his office does not know of any animal cruelty prevention or education program available on island, so the court would find this provision of the bill difficult to impose.

Source: Marianas Variety : http://www.mvariety.com/cnmi/cnmi-news/local/95998-mayor-apatang-weighs-in-on-animal-cruelty-bill

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