Under this regulation, dogs of the pit bull and Rottweiler breeds are considered dangerous. They cannot be “pets” unless the owner obtains the corresponding permission from the Department of Criminalistics of the National Police. Dogs that have previously attacked one or more persons, so long as a report has been filed.
This regulation instructs the Ministry of Public Health to create a dog identification system. Dog owners are required to identify their animals through microchipping or tattooing and to register them in the system.
The municipalities are instructed to work with public and private entities to develop programs to control stray dog populations and educate the public on responsible ownership. In Addition, the municipalities are in charge of the removal from the streets and the relocation or euthanasia of abandoned and lost dogs. Therefore, the municipalities must use procedures that do not cause the dogs pain, suffering, or anguish. Furthermore, dogs adopted out to the public must be sterilized, registered in the identification system, dewormed, and vaccinated according to current laws.
Some of the most important provisions of this regulation are explained below.
Article 32 defines animal welfare based on the five freedoms. It states that animal welfare is “a state of permanent physical and mental health of the dog in harmony with the environment. This status is based on respect for the following “5 Freedoms”:
- Freedom from fear and anguish;
- Freedom from pain, damage, and disease;
- Freedom from hunger and thirst;
- Freedom of discomfort; and
- Freedom to express normal behavior.
Article 3 establishes that all owners, keepers, and guides are required to:
- Provide anti-rabies vaccination and other vaccines determined by the National Health Authority, according to the country's or region's epidemiological situation.
- Provide healthy and nutritious food according to the species.
- Provide adequate living conditions and habitat within a healthy environment.
- Educate, socialize, and interact with the dog in the community.
- Keep the dog in good physical, hygienic, and health conditions both in its habitat and when transporting it, according to the requirements of its species.
- Keep only the number of dogs that allows the owner to comply with animal welfare standards.
- Keep pets inside the home and provide safety measures to avoid dangerous situations for people and animals.
- Use a collar and a leash while walking dogs in public spaces.
- Collect and sanitarily dispose of the waste produced by dogs in public spaces.
- Ensure that the dog does not cause inconvenience to the neighbors of the area where they live due to noise and foul odors they may cause.
- Cover all medical expenses, prostheses, and psychological damage to the person or persons affected by the physical damage that their dog could cause.
In addition, this article establishes that the owner or keeper of dogs that cause damage to property or injuries to one or more persons is not obligated to comply with numeral 11 in the following circumstances:
- When the person enters private property without authorization or in the control of public order.
- If the injuries or damages are caused after the animal is provoked, mistreated, or attacked, or if the dog is protecting any person or guide nearby and is being physically attacked or assaulted.
- If the aggression occurs while the dog is rearing puppies and when the pups are threatened.
The following are prohibited acts imposed on owners and keepers concerning their dogs under Article 6:
- Mistreating, hitting, or submitting the dog to any practice that causes them suffering or harm.
- Abandoning or keeping dogs in isolated places.
- Not maintaining facilities in a hygienic/sanitary way and keeping animals without care or food.
- Placing dogs in small spaces according to their size and physiological and ethological needs, exposing them to inclement weather, hunger, thirst, or isolation.
- Permanently keeping dogs in chains, cages, patios, balconies, rooftops, or similar.
- Forcing the animal to work while in conditions of disease or malnutrition.
- Selling dogs on the streets, roads, and public spaces or in places intended for the sale of food for human consumption. A verbal or written complaint is not required for health police stations to proceed to seize the dogs and take them to the shelters of animal protection entities or other institutions of that type for their adoption or euthanasia, as the case may be.
- Selling pets to minors.
- Poisoning dogs massively or individually, whether they are their own dogs or someone else’s.
- Training, organizing, or promoting fights between dogs or with other animals and/or betting on them.
- Giving dogs as a prize or donating them for scientific purposes contrary to animal welfare and bioethics standards.
- Use of animals in shows, religious acts, exhibitions, advertisements, or the like when this implies suffering or pain.
- Walk a dog with a written history of aggression on public roads.
- Sedating dogs during their stay in the commercialization and aesthetic establishments unless it responds to a prescription from the veterinarian.
- Tying dogs on trees, posts, bars, pillars, or any other site in public spaces or communal areas impeding regular pedestrian traffic or endangering the safety of passers-by or the animals themselves.
- Carrying out the commercial activity of training dogs in public spaces not authorized for that purpose.
- Using the image of dogs to symbolize aggressiveness, malice, danger, or pornography.
- Exercising bestiality without prejudice to the criminal actions that may be established for this crime.
- Filming scenes with dogs where they are mistreated, given drugs, substances, or treatments that alter their natural behavior; and
- Commercialize organs or parts of dogs.
Violation of the norms established by this regulation will be subject to civil sanctions imposed by the Health Commissioner in coordination with the National Police so the dog can be seized. The legal mechanism to report violations of this law is a popular action (a popular action is a constitutional mechanism for the immediate protection of collective rights and interests).
It creates the National Committee of Natural Heritage, which has, among other things, the responsibility of establishing inter-institutional agreements that guarantee animal welfare, as well as the prevention, control, and management of biological risk caused by zoonotic diseases, fires, pests, forest diseases, exotic species, etc., that represent a risk to human health or the biodiversity, in coordination with the Competent Authorities.
The regulation for the responsible ownership of dogs has some relevant provisions. For instance, standards are tailored to provide well-being to animals according to their particular needs. It is also interesting that some of the exceptions to the duty of dog owners to compensate for harm to property or injury consider circumstances such as whether the dog was provoked, if the dog was defending a human, or if her puppies were threatened. Moreover, owners and keepers are not allowed to abandon animals, according to Article 6. When it comes to the government’s duties, the municipalities are required to use humane methods in trapping stray dogs, and the regulation also creates a dog identification system. Note that many municipalities have their own ordinances regarding animal well-being. For instance, Quito’s ordinance considers abandonment a serious infraction sanctioned with a monetary fine of 10 unified basic salaries ($4,000) (Article 123, Ordenanza Metropolitana No. 019, 2020).
Despite the existence of laws at the national and local levels, current provisions do not seem to have much force, as many cities are currently facing a public crisis due to the high number of dogs that live on the streets. For instance, studies conducted in 2018 showed that there were 600,000 abandoned animals in Quito alone at that time. In 2020, The Secretary of Health and Urbaanimal reported an increase in the number of abandoned animals, going from 1 to 10 cases per day the same year (The abandonment of dogs increased by 90% due to the pandemic, La Hora, May 2021). The staggering numbers show that current laws are not solving the issue. It is unclear whether the problem is the lack of meaningful laws, public policy, monitoring, and enforcement mechanisms. The population, in general, seems to be indifferent to animal cruelty. Even though there is a high number of animal cruelty cases, the number of reported cases is relatively small. For instance, in Quito, the country’s main city, only 177 animal cruelty cases were reported in 2021 (Casos de maltrato animal como el de Bruno son frecuentes en Quito, Ecuavisa, 2022). On the other hand, the municipality of Loja reported they had had 318 animal cruelty reports between January and July 2022. The main violations concerned the owners not providing food, water, or adequate care to their animals (60 animal cruelty reports per moths in Loja, La Hora, Sep 2022).