Petition to strengthen animal welfare in the Philippines

Petition to strengthen animal welfare in the Philippines

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Yvon Tinaja
Yvon Tinaja signed this petition

          Despite having clear provisionary laws protecting animals in the Philippines since 1998, we still see a massive number of animal neglect and cruelty in the Philippines. Regular and proper implementation of Republic Act No. 8485 (a.k.a Animal Welfare Act of 1998) is long overdue, and up until now, we do not see much improvement with how animals are regarded and treated. However, we now see a greater number of citizens being aware of the situation, and more people are starting to see the importance of protecting and caring for animals. It is with great hope that we are starting this petition of strengthening and improving the implementation of Philippines’ Animal Welfare Act. In this petition, we will outline common problems/violations we encounter concerning Animal Welfare in the country. We will also mention recommendations to solve such problems. Kindly join us in this advocacy, and let us try our very best to make our voices be heard for the voiceless. It is the least we can do for them. They, too, deserve justice and favourable living conditions.
 
Common Problems/Violations Concerning the Animal Welfare Act
 
1.     City pounds
     a. We encounter a lot of city pounds not doing their due diligence in providing basic necessities, such as food, water, and sanitary living spaces, to captured strays. Most city pounds leave strays to die of hunger, thirst, overheating, and from diseases in their facilities.
     b. Improper handling of strays is fairly common as well. Lots of animals get injured and extremely traumatized from this.
 
2.     Reporting animal neglect/abuse
     a. Most often, even with concrete evidences and witnesses of humans intentionally hurting animals, perpetrators do not face the consequences. Most government officials sweep these cases under the rug, viewing animals as having lesser life value than humans. It is common to pardon a perpetrator as well, when he/she has connection with people in power.
     b. Selling, trading, and eating dog and cat meat remains common.
 
3.     Puppy mills and illegal trading of animals
     a. Under Section 2 of R.A. No. 8485, a certificate of registration from the Bureau of Animal Industry is required to breed animals. However, backyard breeding remains rampant. We see a lot of puppies for sale crammed in small, unsanitary cages.
     b. It is common to see animals for auction or trade, and/or serving as prizes in contests, especially in social media, nowadays. Majority of people perceive this as wrongful and unethical, but they do not know where to report such cases. In cases where people do report, government officials do not take notice, or are unaware that these need to be investigated as it is highly likely that the Animal Welfare Act is being violated.
 
 
4.     Neglectful owners
     a. Pet owners are allowing their pets to roam freely, without taking into consideration where their pets urinate and defecate. This in turn leads to neighbours being displeased with animals in the community. In the end, the animals are blamed and are the ones to suffer (e.g., most often, bothered individuals act on their own accord and use poison to get rid of the stray population or have them impounded).
     b. Spaying and neutering, as well as vaccinating pets remain to be an uncommon practice. 
     c. Pet owners tend to bring their pets to the vet when their pets’ conditions are already in the worst state imaginable.
 
Recommendations to Strengthen Animal Welfare
 
1.     City pounds
     a. No to impounding and euthanizing captured strays. Prioritize increasing spay and neuter programs all over the country, and turn city pounds into centres that work on rehabilitating strays, and promoting adoption.
     b. Start small and work towards implementing solutions on a bigger scale – for example, we can start enacting these recommendations in subdivisions and villages first. We can slowly work towards releasing/welcoming strays in communities, after they have been spayed/neutered and vaccinated. Settlers in the area can work together to create a kinder environment for the strays (i.e., create food and water stations, schedule times per household to clean up after them).  
     c. Work towards gaining strays’ trust to allow easier enactment of capturing strays for the purpose of spaying/neutering and vaccinating them.

2.     Reporting animal neglect/abuse
     a. Gather as much evidence and witnesses as possible. Reach out to people in higher positions if baranggay officials fail to act on reported cases of animal abuse/neglect.
     b. Have a helpdesk (either virtual or in person per baranggay) specifically for animal concerns. Create a committee assigned for major violations of the Animal Welfare Act such as, inhumane city pound conditions, animal cruelty, and dog meat trade.
     c. Establish animal patrollers who will perform regular rounds around the neighbourhood to ensure safety of animals and for easier access of authorities who can penalize violators of the Animal Welfare Act.


3.     Puppy mills and illegal trading of animals
     a. Implement stricter guidelines for breeders, and mandate breeders to report to government officials whenever they have new litters. Penalize puppy mills and those who fail to comply with BAI’s conditions.
     b. Prompt BAI and government officials to take action for cases where individuals wrongfully perform trading of animals.


4.     Neglectful owners
     a. Penalize irresponsible pet owners instead of resorting to punishing pets due to their owners’ heedlessness (impounding pets is considered a punishment due to the trauma and fear they go through during capture and in pounds). Penalties collected can then be allocated to spay/neuter and vaccination programs and improving holding places for dogs with no owners.
     b. Having a database and information drive of strays to better monitor the stray population, as well as to keep track of pet owners neglecting their pets.
     c. Mandatory microchipping of animals in communities should be implemented.
     d. Holding seminars explaining what responsible pet ownership means, and the importance of not only giving pets rabies vaccine, but also 5-in-vaccines to create a healthier environment both for pets and humans. Seminars should also include benefits of spay/neuter operations, such as decreasing roaming tendencies for pets and contributing in solving the stray population problem in our country.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read through this petition. We are hoping more people gets convinced that this matter needs urgent action, as more and more innocent lives continue to be taken away everyday. If you wish to directly donate to Pawssion Project to help with our own initiatives to improve animal welfare, donations may be made through: