Thursday, January 31, 2008

Students press Legislature on anti-cruelty bill

The following story appeared in the Saipan Tribune on February 1, 2008:

Students press Legislature on anti-cruelty bill

The first batch of letters from students of William S. Reyes Elementary School pressing lawmakers to enact an anti-animal cruelty bill was hand-delivered to the Legislature Wednesday.

The students, according WSR sixth grade teacher Phyllis Ain, made really good arguments in their letters. “Not only were they concerned about the well-being of the animals, but they were really concerned about how the absence of the anti-animal cruelty law would effect tourism in the CNMI,” Ain said.

One of the letters was from sixth grader Aprilleen Sablan to Senate President Pete Reyes, where she stated that an anti-animal cruelty law will not only prevent animals from being neglected, abandoned, and injured but would help “the CNMI become an even more beautiful place” and not scare off tourists. She added in her letter that, “A few nights ago you [Reyes] said that you weren't going to pass the law because the CNMI has no budget. It doesn't really matter if the CNMI has a budget or not. The law wouldn't need that much money.”

Ain said the students didn't really understand why the law was not being passed because of “no money.” “They didn't understand what that had to do with passing the law that would just punish people who would hurt animals. I said I didn't know and that they should ask the people who are responsible; and that's what they did,” Ain said.

She said she understands that CNMI lawmakers have priorities. “And I respect their priorities. But the pie is not just one size. There are a lot of segments to that pie. And this is an issue the community is obviously concerned about, and it's growing.”The second batch of student letters to the Legislature will be sent out today.

Dan Anderson, who hand-delivered the first batch of 31 letters to the Senate president, said that, from what he read, the students have valid questions. “They [students] wanted to know why they [lawmakers] couldn't pass the law and why they couldn't pass the budget,” Anderson said.

Pets Assistance and Welfare Services president Katie Busenkell said, "The reports of pet-theft and rampant animal abuse that is tolerated in Saipan is appalling. It is absolutely disgraceful that on American soil, it is legal to beat and or torture an animal to death.”

She urged people to “write your legislators and urge them to pass the PAWS Animal Protection Act. It is the foundation to some much needed change in the way animals are treated on Saipan."

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