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By Odessa McCarty

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (January 3, 2002 – Pacific Daily News)---Animal control officers may enter private property to capture cats and dogs not wearing license tags, even if they are confined or leashed, health officials said yesterday.

Operation Stray Animal Round Up, a joint operation of the Mayors' Council of Guam and the Department of Public Health and Social Services, began in August in an effort to continue to capture roaming animals.

Stray animals pose a public health hazard, when they dig through trash and chase after children, officials have said.

Some pet owners are not aware of the animal control laws and become upset when animal control officers capture their dogs, said Rosanna Rabago, acting administrator for the department's Division of Environmental Health.

"If a person owns a pet, they have to leash or confine and license their pet. We have a 'leash and license' law. It's not one or the other," she explained.

A pet license is obtained after pet owners have their dogs or cats vaccinated for rabies from any veterinary clinic, and after they acquire a tag for their pets from the public health department, she explained.

Pets must wear the tags and be confined or leashed at all times, she added.

"If animal control officers see a dog that's not wearing a tag, it's already grounds for them to issue a citation and impound the dog or cat," Rabago said.


Some pet owners were very upset to find out their pets were captured during the roundup, said Yigo Mayor Robert Lizama, head of Operation SARU for Guam's northern district.

Lizama said he hears many responses from angry pet owners, most often: "I didn't know about the laws," or "I didn't know I had to tie them up."

"There's no excuse, it just needs to be done," Lizama said.

The media, the public health department, mayors' offices and Guam Animals In Need have informed the public of these requirements, he said, adding it is up to pet owners to observe the law.


Pet owners who want to get their captured animals back can claim them, for a fee, at the GAIN shelter in Yigo.

About 12 out of 20 dogs rounded up from Piti on Dec. 27 were reclaimed, said Bambi Casimiro, a caretaker at GAIN.

Animals without a license are euthanized, unless they are adopted or are reclaimed by their owners within three days, according to Pacific Daily News files.


Several stray dogs regularly wander around the parking lot of a condominium and hotel complex in upper Tumon, said Justin Lee, a tenant at the complex. "I feel bad for these dogs. They're so skinny and sorry-looking, so sometimes I bring them food, but they're not mine," he said, adding that several other tenants also feed the dogs.

The animals sleep underneath cars at the complex, dig through garbage and sometimes bark at people, but usually don't chase anyone, he said.

"It probably would be better for someone to impound these dogs. No one wants to take responsibility for them here," he said.

For additional reports from the Pacific Daily News, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/Pacific Daily News (Guam).

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