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City adopts "humane" way of rounding up, killing stray dogs

CEBU, Philippines – The city government will be employing the "most humane" way in rounding up and killing stray dogs.

City veterinarian Alice Utlang said they are implementing the changes following criticisms from the Humane Society International on the manner by which stray dogs are rounded up and killed here.

In other countries, stray dogs are rounded up using nets, but here in Cebu City, they are being caught using hooked wires, which is painful to the animals.

This practice will stop today, Utlang said.

Aside from this, Utlang also said they will stop using the improvised "gas chamber" in killing the dogs and instead subject the animals to euthanasia, a process which would lead them to a painless death.

Utlang explained that the dogs will be injected with two milligrams of pentobarbital, a kind of anesthesia, to put them to sleep. Because the amount injected is more than the usual dosage, the anesthesia itself would reportedly act as poison.

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Utlang admitted that using the "gas chamber" is a cruel way of killing the animals, although the same has been reportedly approved by the country's Animal Welfare Committee.

The "gas chamber" is a compact metal box with walls made of steel plates. The stray dogs are made to enter the chamber through a small opening, which will be closed once the chamber is full.

Afterwards, a hose attached to the chamber is connected to the muffler of a vehicle with an engine running. The carbon dioxide from the vehicle will then poison the dogs.

"Bisan ako malooy ko maminaw sa mga iro nga magtiyabaw intawon kay wala may hangin sa sulod inigsirado na sa gamay'ng entrance. Mosamot na nga pasudlan na og aso ang ilang nahimutangan," Utlang said.

The city veterinarian's office has been aggressive in rounding up stray dogs following dozens of residents already bitten. The good news, however, is that only one, a 16-year-old girl from Barangay Busay, has died of rabies. She reportedly was not able to complete her vaccines.

Rabies is a viral infection that can be transmitted from dogs to humans through the animals' saliva through a bite. The infection can kill once it reaches the person's central nervous system.

Utlang said the number of apprehended dogs this year has decreased compared to last year, but she clarified that they no longer go around catching dogs unless they receive a request from the barangays.

In 2009, dog pound personnel apprehended 2,592 stray and volunteered dogs, 2,297 of which were eventually killed. This year, only 788 were apprehended, so far, and 513 have been subjected to euthanasia. The rest were taken in by animal lovers. (FREEMAN)

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