Pinera announced he would introduce a bill calling for tighter dog owner regulations Monday, the same day protesters stormed and ransacked a cathedral in Punta Arenas during mass in response to a bishop's remarks that God permitted the killing of stray dogs, The Santiago Times reported Tuesday.
On Monday, 37 stray dogs were found dead in the streets of Punta Arenas in southern Chile.
"This is very sad and it should not have happened," Pinera said. "Dogs also deserve to be well treated and we need a policy where everyone takes responsibility toward his pet."
Chilean cities have reported problems with stray dogs for years. In Santiago, there are an estimated 215,000 dogs on the streets, or about one for every 30 people, the Times said.
Pinera said he sympathized with the protesters' cause but condemned their actions.
"Nobody has the right to show so much violence in the middle of a religious event occurring inside the church," Pinera said. "This is something our government will not allow or tolerate. Demonstrations are welcome -- we live in a free and democratic country -- but they must be done in a pacific and respectful way, without [breaking] the law."
Teresa Lynn Chagrin, an animal care and control specialist with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, told the Times she agreed with Pinera concerning the demonstrators' actions and his initiative to get stray animals off the streets.
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