Arf! Arf! Justice served for ‘Aimee’
A man was ordered to pay about P20,000 in fines and damages after a local court in Taytay, Rizal, pronounced him guilty of animal cruelty for shooting and wounding his neighbor’s Labrador Retriever two years ago.
The conviction of Carlos Gozum, 55, was hailed as a victory for animal-welfare advocates and particularly for the owners of 3-year-old “Aimee,” a black Lab who survived the Feb. 5, 2009, attack.
In a six-page decision dated January 24, Judge Wilfredo Tamola of the Taytay Municipal Trial Court found Gozum guilty of violating Republic Act No. 8485, or the Animal Welfare Act of 1998. He also ordered Gozum to pay a fine of P5,000 and damages worth P15,238.
The Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), which had been helping the complainants pursue the case, uploaded Gozum’s photos on its Facebook page on Wednesday and said his conviction should serve as a warning to other animal offenders.
“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,” PAWS legal counsel Roy Kayaban said in a statement.
In October 2011, two men were also convicted of animal cruelty by the municipal trial court of Rodriguez, Rizal province, for beating a dog named “Kevin” to death.
Reached on the phone Wednesday, Aimee’s owner, Aileen Tuazon, said Gozum apparently tried to kill her dog after he earlier complained about the animal’s foul odor reaching his house.
Gozum was arrested on the day of the shooting and was detained at the Taytay police station for five days. The dog lived despite sustaining a gunshot wound in between its eyes.
“She’s no different from us. Aimee eats what we eat,” Tuazon, a retired Taytay municipal government employee, said of her pet.
Serving as a witness against Gozun, Tuazon’s son John Joseph said the shooting happened around 11 a.m. of Feb. 5, 2009. According to his testimony, he first heard a gunshot and, peeping through the door, saw Gozum standing in front of the dog’s cage and holding a pistol.
By then, the dog was already wailing in pain, its head covered in blood, John Joseph told the court.
For the defense, Gozum’s daughter insisted in court that her father was “a peace-loving man” who could not have possibly shot Aimee since he didn’t even own a gun. She said Gozum was in the kitchen when the shooting took place.
Judge Tamola, however, found Gozum’s alibi weak and gave credence to John Joseph’s testimony, noting that it was corroborated by another neighbor who recounted seeing Gozum standing with a gun near the dog.
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