After eight years of a law that “protects” them, animals are still waiting for their shelters
Street dogs of the DR
Some people claim that there are organizations that conduct rescues as a business.
The writer has witnessed that in the Dominican Republic there are no public policies to protect animals. On multiple occasions, he has sought refuge for rescued animals and has not found it, at least in Greater Santo Domingo.
“We do not have shelter,” is the constant response of both state agencies such as the Animal Protection Department of the Attorney General’s Office (PGR) and many organizations that call themselves animal protectors, but limit themselves to putting them in adoption in their social networks because they do not have spaces to host them.
Luckily, he has managed to place them in a home by his own means, with the help of friends and family, but the help of state agencies and various animal protection foundations has been practically nil.
A law that is not followed
In 2012 many animal lovers celebrated the enactment of the Animal Protection and Responsible Ownership Law, No. 248-12 because they hoped that the State would assume the responsibility to protect animals, but eight years have passed and practically nothing has changed.
Famished, injured, sick dogs and cats continue to roam the streets of the country, the exhibition and sale of animals in inadequate conditions continue, horses continue to be used (although to a lesser extent) without due consideration … In short, it is evident that animal protection is still a pending task in the Dominican Republic, a country that relies heavily on tourism and this gives it a negative image to visitors in whose countries animal rights are respected.
What does the law state?
According to the law, the Ministry of Public Health and Social Assistance, the National District council, the municipal councils, and the municipal district boards are obliged to install shelter houses within their territory. However, the first has not yet been installed, despite the promise of many politicians.
“It is the responsibility of the Ministry of Public Health and Social Assistance to install shelter houses in any community or in the head of the provinces, according to needs. City councils and municipal district boards are obliged to install shelters within the scope of their territorial competence,” the law establishes verbatim in its article 12.
Animal protection institutions can also install shelters and must receive all the financial and material aid they require from the State, city councils, and municipal district boards. In shelters, in theory, animals should receive the care they deserve, such as veterinary care, sanitation, feeding, vaccination, and general protection that contributes to their well-being.
They had two years to install shelters
According to the law, within two years after its promulgation, the Ministry of Public Health and Social Assistance had to put into operation shelters in provincial capitals and in the National District and in the places it deems necessary.
In the same period, the town councils had the obligation to install private, joint, or municipal hostels. It is also the obligation of the State, through the National Police or Municipal Police and in coordination with the Ministry of Public Health and Social Assistance, city councils or municipal boards, to collect all animals with or without an owner that roam in public areas, which If they are sick or lost, that has been abandoned by their owner or mistreated, send them to the shelter house of the place and provide them with the care they deserve.
Article 73 of the law says that it is the duty of citizens to inform the authorities about the existence of dead or sick animals in public places or to collect and deposit them in public or private shelters.
However, although there are many people willing to rescue stray animals, they are demotivated because they cannot find where to locate them and they have to take responsibility for the animal and personally cover the expenses that its care entails.
Not everyone, no matter how much they love animals and it hurts to see them suffer, has that possibility, either due to lack of space or money.
Some also claim that there are organizations that run rescues as a business.
“I stopped rescuing because most of my colleagues and some foundations run rescues as a business. It is very hard to see everything I saw without being able to do anything and without a law that is truly enforced. Foundations don’t help you if you rescue animals,” affirms Dulce Dionisio, who spent several years rescuing dogs but it became untenable to continue.