Lira Dalangin-Fernandez,
Reposted from

MANILA, Philippines — (January 24, 2012) A local court has found a man guilty of shooting a labrador in 2009, a case hailed by animal welfare activists as victory to their cause.

Carlos Gozum, 55, was found guilty of violation of Section 6 or Republic Act 84 or Animal Welfare Act and was sentenced to pay P5,000. He was also ordered to pay the complainant, Renato Tuazon, P15,238 in actual damages. He faces imprisonment if he fails to settle his dues.

Judge Wilfredo Timola of the Municipal Trial Court of Taytay in Rizal province handed the decision on January 24, three years after the incident, which happened in February 2009.

The dog, Aimee, who was nine months old when she was shot, has recovered and is now in the care of the Tuazon family.

“The decision of the court underscores that animal cruelty, whether by act or omission, is a crime and is punished. While it is a sad fact that many regard animals as unimportant or trivial, it is important to know that animals are protected by law and the State will prosecute offenders just like any common criminal,” lawyer Roy Kayaban, legal counsel of the Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), said.

John Joseph Tuazon, son of the complainant, and a neighbor Andrea Valle, testified in court that at around 11 a.m. of February 5, 2009, they rushed to Gozum’s house in Barangay San Isidro, Taytay, Rizal when they heard a gunshot and a loud cry from a dog.

When they peeped through Gozum’s window, they saw him holding a gun while standing in front of the cage of the bloodied Aimee. The two immediately called for police assistance, who went to the house of the accused and called him for questioning.
Gozum denied shooting the dog and said he does not own a gun, an alibi that the court saw as a weak defense, according to the decision.

The complaint was supported by the pictures of the Aimee inside her cage, photograph of the spent bullet shell, X-ray report issued by the Tanay General Hospital and the statement issued by the Animal Care Clinic.

Gozum violated Section 6 of the Animal Welfare Act, which states that, “It shall be unlawful for any person to torture any animal, to neglect to provide adequate care, sustenance or shelter, or maltreat any animal or to subject any dog or horse to dogfights or horsefights, kill or cause or procure to be tortured or deprived of adequate care, sustenance or shelter, or maltreat or use the same in research or experiments not expressly authorized by the Committee on Animal Welfare.”