EDITORIAL - Animal cruelty

The Philippine Star
EDITORIAL -  Animal cruelty

Killing dogs for their meat has been drastically reduced nationwide, and the country registered the highest ownership of pet dogs in Asia in 2021. But people continue to be arrested for trafficking in dogs for pulutan. Many dogs are still kept chained on a short leash or in small cages, to serve as living alarm systems and house guards. And there are Filipinos who appear to have no compunction about torturing and killing dogs.

Last year, mall security guard Jojo Malicdem lost his job and faced criminal charges for tossing a puppy to death off a footbridge in Quezon City. The puppy named Browny was held by one of five minors who were begging from passersby. Malicdem claimed he was trying to drive away the beggars and had tossed the puppy accidentally – a story that was disputed by eyewitnesses. He is facing trial on charges filed by the Philippine Animal Welfare Society for violation of Republic Act 8485, the Animal Welfare Act of 1988, as amended by RA 10631.

Despite the publicity generated by the incident, lessons have not been learned. In Bato, Camarines Sur, video footage showed Anthony Solares chasing and beating a Golden Retriever. The dog named Killua was later found dead in a sack. Golden Retrievers are among the most good-natured and intelligent breeds, making them popular as therapy and emotional-support dogs. They are playful with adults and generally gentle around children.

Solares invoked self-defense, claiming that Killua had become aggressive. Solares is expected to face a criminal complaint for animal cruelty. And he is facing a firestorm of condemnation from many of the 67 percent of the Philippine population as of 2021 who keep dogs as pets. Many of these so-called fur babies are cared for like children. Based on photos provided by Killua’s keeper Vina Rachelle Arazas, who slept with the dog in her bed, the three-year-old Golden Retriever was this type of beloved pet.

Sen. Grace Poe, “heartbroken and enraged” by the “despicable” killing of Killua, is pressing for the approval of a bill she has filed, the Revised Animal Welfare Act. Among other things, the measure seeks to make animal welfare education a mandatory part of the curriculum for elementary and high school students. It also seeks to create task forces at the barangay level for prompt response to animal welfare issues.

It is said that the level of development in a society is reflected in the way people treat animals. The Philippines has achieved much progress since the days when dog meat was the favored pulutan for drinking sessions. But there’s still a wide room for improvement.

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