Source AP ©

Puerto Rican contractors throwing pets off bridge

After contractors allegedly took pets from public housing projects and hurled them off a bridge the major of the city said the shelter to hold captured animals would be built.

Barceloneta Mayor Sol Luis Fontanez made the announcement Thursday, one day after a Puerto Rican judge charged the contractor's owner and two employees with animal cruelty in the October massacre.

The mayor said the "deplorable incident" prompted him to seek bids for a shelter that will hold animals temporarily before sending them to a larger shelter in the west-coast city of Mayaguez.

"Once the stray animal is captured, we will shelter it for three days with medical attention from a veterinarian here in Barceloneta," he said.

Fontanez said the number of strays on streets of his northern city has been growing because nobody has been catching them since the start of the investigation.

In October, municipal officials and animal-control workers took dogs and cats from three housing projects in Barceloneta under a no-pet policy. Some 80 pets were seized, and only a half-dozen survived the (15-meter) 50-foot fall from the bridge.

Julio Diaz, the owner of Animal Control Solutions, and workers Lucas Montano Rivera, 18, and Roberto Rodriguez Ceballo, 28, face cruelty charges that carry maximum prison terms of nine years.

A US$22.5 million (EUR15.5 million) lawsuit against Animal Control Solutions and city officials - including those who helped round up the animals - has been filed on behalf of 16 Barceloneta families whose dogs and cats were seized.

Fontanez, named as a defendant in the civil suit, has said the municipality was involved in rounding up pets at the public housing projects but the city's responsibility ended when Animal Control Solutions drove off with the animals in their vans.