Will the Slaughter of Abandoned Dogs be Legalized in Chile?

A call against the hunting of abandoned dogs.

HAVANA TIMES – On April 1st, the Chamber of Deputies of Chile will vote on a bill for the hunting of feral dogs (1), after it was approved by the agriculture commission. This shows the worst of certain political sectors in the country, which are willing to do anything to protect certain interests, even at the cost of death for some.

I raise this issue in these terms because this bill presented by right-wing deputy Harry Jürgensen, undermines basic standards of coexistence that should exist in a society that attempts to preserve life in all its breadth and generate a culture of sustainable care, which is above any type of abuse and attempts to justify massacres in the name of some productive sector.

This is what happens with this horrendous bill, introduced by Jürgensen on November 28, 2018. It seeks to respond to a real problem in the rural and livestock sector, faced with attacks by dogs on various animals (cattle, sheep, chickens, etc.) and even humans. The serious issue is that it refers to dogs as feral and invasive species, which shows a complete misunderstanding of the matter.

Hence, it is a dangerous bill for the country, as using a term that does not exist in current legislation, such as that of feral dog. It would allow people who are part of agricultural associations to kill dogs that roam unsupervised in a rural area more than 200 meters away, exempting them from any criminal liability, thus violating the principle of equality before the law.

Consequently, it is absurd for a parliamentarian to present a bill that ignores existing law that explicitly states: “those who commit acts of mistreatment or cruelty to animals shall be punished with imprisonment of the lower or medium degree and a fine”, leading the discussion to an ethical and legal nonsense that is shameful.

Likewise, no one in their right mind can believe that these dogs are exotic or wild species. They are mostly dogs abandoned by irresponsible guardians, many of whom are the same farmers who are asking for them to be criminally killed to stop a problem that originates in negligence and the denial of the rights of non-human animals as feeling beings.

In other words, Jürgensen’s bill not only does not address the root of the problem, which is irresponsible ownership and pet abandonment by humans, but it worsens the situation. Approving something like this could lead to indiscriminate killing of dogs, and also conflicts between neighbors.

Therefore, what needs to be done is precisely to strengthen the institutional framework of existing law, giving it real implementation in the different regions and communes throughout Chile. Promote responsible ownership at the educational and community level, banning breeding, conducting informative campaigns on the importance of sterilization and identification chips (small devices implanted under the pet’s skin with its name, address, and other data), and ensuring serious enforcement.

It is in this last point, enforcement, that those of us who adopt pets and rescue dogs, and do not care about breeds, know very well that it is extremely insufficient. We see many of them beaten, confined, lost, thrown onto roads and run over daily, as a result of irresponsible people, who do not understand how important it is to leash a dog, sterilize it, and register it with a chip, which could save their lives.

But for that to happen, we must stop seeing dogs as our property, where treating them as things or objects leads to the extreme of a group of legislators wanting to legalize the slaughter of abandoned dogs. They believe they have the right to kill them, showing the worst face of human cruelty and lack of empathy for the suffering of others. I believe we should not be indifferent and not be scandalized by this brutality.

May this new Easter Week in Chile, within a country that claims to be Christian, serve as a time of reflection, conversation, and allow us to see that suffering is right in front of us, and that it includes non-human beings as well. Those who are invisible or mere commodities for many, instead of being one more among our families and communities.

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