Dated: (September 8, 1998)


HB 595 was signed July 23, 1998 by the Governor of Puerto Rico and is immediately effective. The bill reads as follows:


Presented by representative Ruiz Class Referred to the Agriculture and Criminal Judicial Commissions

A Bill to amend Sections 1, 2, 3 and 10 of P.L. No. 70, of June 23, 1971, as amended, so as to include "Pitbull Terriers" and any offspring from this breed, among those animals banned by the Puerto Rico Secretary of Agriculture from introduction, importation, possession, acquisition, breeding, sale, and transfer, provide for their registration in a registry created for those purposes within the Agriculture Department, and amend the penalties contained in said Law.

Statement of Motives Our pets are an important part of our lives. Therefore, we must care for them and give them the greatest love in exchange for their company and unconditional; loyalty. Dogs, in particular, are the pets that collaborate most with human beings. They entertain us, protect us, and are immensely useful to the visually impaired, serving as guides and helping them perform some simple tasks. For those and many other reasons, they are called man's best friend.

Nevertheless, both in England and the United States, the "Pitbull Terrier" has been developed through the crossbreeding of different dog races, to be used in dog fights. This is a robust animal, with strong jaws and is highly aggressive. It has great physical stamina and capacity to remain in offensive combat for extended periods of time. Although given a passive environment in which they may be raised, they could display docile traits, extreme aggressiveness could erupt suddenly, at any time during their adult lives. This evidenced by the many attacks that have taken place and been documented. It is common knowledge that hundreds of children and adults have been attacked and mutilated by these dogs. For that reason, in many states of the United States, their possession, acquisition, sale, and transfer have been banned.

The Legislative Assembly understands that there is a need to put a stop to this situation, and for the citizens' protection believes it is necessary to prohibit the introduction, importation, possession, acquisition, breeding, purchase, sale and transfer in Puerto Rico, of dogs that belong to the race known as "Pitbull Terrier."

In order to achieve the objectives of greater public safety, P.L. No. 70 of June 23, 1971, as amended, is hereby amended to include the canines described above among the animals designated by the secretary of Agriculture as dangerous to human safety.

The Puerto Rico Legislative Assembly Decrees:
Article 1 - Section 1 of Public Law No. 70, enacted June 23, 1971, is amended to read as follows:

Section 1 - The introduction possession acquisition, sale or transfer of those fish, including molluscs and crustaceans, amphibians, reptiles, wild birds, microorganisms, insects, wild mammals, or their eggs or offsprings [sic], that the Secretary of Agriculture classifies as being harmful to the interests of agriculture, animal husbandry, horticulture, forestry or wild life, or those which given their characteristics of rapacity or because they are poisonous may constitute a threat or risk to human beings' life or safety.
Furthermore, the introduction, importation, possession, acquisition, breeding, purchase, sale or transfer of any nature within the Island of Puerto Rico, of dogs known as "Pitbull Terriers," or hybrids resulting from a breed of these dogs or with dogs from other races, are [word is unclear on my copy--looks like "all"] prohibited.
This is the result of a breed between bulldogs and terriers. They are defined as a race of bull terriers that include the
Stafforshire [sic] Bull Terrier,
American Staffordshire Terriers,
American Pit Bull Terriers,
and combinations of these and other terrier races.

They are difficult to tell apart given their similarities, but they are essentially distinguished from other canine races by:

Height: 14-19 inches
Weight: females, between 30 and 50 pounds, and males, between 35 and 50 pounds,
Head: oval shaped, high cheekbones and protruded jawbones
Eyes: black, small and triangular
Body: muscular, robust and compact
Coat: short and shiny
Any person, as of the date of enactment of this Act, who owns any of the canines mentioned, shall register said dog or dogs in a registry intended for those purposes, at the Agriculture Department. The registration will take place within the eight (8) months following the approval of this law. After that grace period has expired, the opportunity to register them will cease and the Registry will be closed.
The registration application must contain the name, address, and telephone numbers of the owner, the location where the animal will be kept, and all the information needed to identify the dog. Said application must be accompanied by a registration fee of twenty-five (25.00) dollars.
Every dog so registered will be assigned a registration number which will be engraved on a small metal plate to be affixed to said dog's collar. The owner of the dog will receive, in addition to the duly engraved plaque with the registration number, a certificate of registration as evidence of the dog having been duly registered with the Department of Agriculture.
In the case of a female, she is to be sterilized, tattooed with an indelible mark indicating this surgical procedure has been performed, and the corroborative document signed by a veterinarian will be required by the department of agriculture prior to her registration.
Any dog that fails to carry a plaque indicating its registration number and whose owner fails to produce the registration certificate after the eight (9) month grace period shall be immediately confiscated by the pertinent authorities.

Notwithstanding the above, the owner of one or more of these animals may choose to follow the provisions of Section 5 of this Act. Section 4 of this Act will not be applicable in that case."
Article 2. - Section 2 of Public Law No. 70 enacted on June 23, 1971 is amended to read as follows: "Section 2- The Secretary of Agriculture is empowered to designate those species from the groups of animals, microorganisms, insects, eggs or offsprings [sic] mentioned in Section 1 of this Act, that in his/her judgment should be designated as dangerous species, through regulations, and prohibit their introduction, possession, acquisition, sale or transfer within the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Once any Regulations have been drafted by the secretary, and prior to adopting or amending them, the Secretary will hold public hearings after having given public notice of the date, place and nature of said hearings, in the form and manner he or she considers appropriate. Regulations must be a promulgation pursuant to the provisions of Public Law No. 170 of August 12, 1988, as amended, known as the "Commonwealth of Puerto Rico Uniform Administrative Procedure Act."

Article 3 - Section 3 of Public Law No. 70 enacted on June 23, 1971 is amended to read as follows;

"Section 3 - All shipments of wild mammal species, wild birds, fish, canines, including also molluscs and crustaceans, amphibians, reptiles, microorganisms, insects or their eggs or offsprings [sic], that have been banned by the Secretary of Agriculture, must be promptly returned or destroyed at the expense of the importer or consignee."

Article 4 - Section 10 of Public Law No. 70 enacted on June 23, 1971 is amended to read as follows;

"Section 10 - Any person who violates the provisions contained in this Act will be guilty of a misdemeanor and, if convicted, will be punished with a fine not to exceed one thousand (1,000) dollars or imprisonment for a period not to exceed one (1) year, or both penalties at the discretion of the Court. Should there be any recidivism, the penalty established will increase to a maximum of five thousand (5,000) dollars or imprisonment for a period not to exceed three (3) years, or both, at the discretion of the Court.
Law enforcement officers, Department of Agriculture employees, veterinarians, and any other person so authorized by the Secretary of Agriculture is empowered to enforce the provisions of this Act.

Article 5 - This Act will become effective immediately upon its approval.