Puerto Rico probes case of puppy with legs cut off

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Authorities are investigating what they say is one of the worst cases of animal abuse they’ve seen in Puerto Rico: a puppy found alive with all four legs largely cut off, leaving exposed bone.

Members of a group that feeds and tries to find homes for abandoned pets said Tuesday that they found the mutilated puppy over the weekend in a parking lot near a resort in the northern coastal town of Hatillo. They had seen the same puppy when they fed it Friday, and it had not been abused when they last saw it frolicking on the beach with its mother and siblings.

The black mongrel puppy was named “Ocean” by members of the Rabito Kontento animal rescue group. Mariel Rojas, who runs the group, said she rushed the dog to a veterinarian, but was told that its bones were rotting and the infection too severe to be treated. It was euthanized Sunday.

“Nobody has seen anything; nobody has said anything,” Rojas said.

The case has sparked outrage on the U.S. mainland and revived calls to crack down on animal cruelty in Puerto Rico, which has been slowly recognizing animals’ rights and prosecuting cases of abuse.

“No matter what this dog did, it doesn’t deserve that,” said Sperry Brown with Investigating Officers of Animal Cruelty, a nonprofit group in Puerto Rico that works with police to pursue such cases.

In another case that outraged people on and off the island, employees of a private animal control company were charged in 2007 with seizing dozens of pet dogs and some cats from public housing projects and hurling them off a bridge.

The three suspects were acquitted, but more than 50,000 people worldwide signed a petition threatening to boycott travel to the island, leading to an estimated $15 million revenue loss.

The outrage also prompted legislators to approve a tougher animal protection law in August 2008. Several people have been charged under the new law, including a man accused of dragging a stubborn horse next to his truck.

Still, Iris Quinones, president of Investigating Officers of Animal Cruelty, said most people convicted of harming animals are ordered to pay a minimum $500 fine, a punishment she argued “doesn’t have much of an impact” on abusers.

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