All creatures great and small
The recent death of dogs being ferried to a dog show in a closed van is outrageous, and the full force of the law that makes cruelty to animals a crime should be brought to bear on those responsible. This is not a small matter, as others claim. It concerns, not “mere” dogs, but intelligent, sentient beings that bring happiness to humans and enrich their lives in countless, precious ways.
The first reports had as many as 30 dogs dying in the incident. The truth that eight dogs, and not 30, perished does not diminish the tragedy. The
Animal Kingdom Foundation Inc. (Akfi) has filed charges against longtime breeder Joey Mancilla, van driver Arnold Llanto, and John Does who helped load the canines into the van.
On Dec. 2, some 40 dogs—mostly beagles, chihuahuas and widgets—were transported in a closed van from Novaliches, Quezon City, to the Beagle Fanciers Club dog show in Marikina. By the time the dogs arrived at the event, a number were unconscious or dead, apparently due to heat stroke and dehydration. More dogs died the next day at a veterinary clinic.
The Philippine Canine Club Inc. (PCCI), which regulated the dog show, immediately suspended Mancilla and conducted an inquiry. In a Dec. 6 letter, PCCI president Augusto Benedicto Santos III said the club “categorically condemns the tragic incident.” On Dec. 20, the PCCI announced Mancilla’s expulsion from the club by a unanimous vote of its board of directors.
Akfi program director Heidi Marquez Caguioa said the PCCI could also be held culpable if it turns out the club had been negligent in organizing the event leading to the death of the dogs. She is calling on parties with knowledge of the incident to come forward and assist Akfi in its inquiry.
Sen. Francis Pangilinan noted that Mancilla could be held liable for violation of Republic Act No. 10631 (or the Amended Animal Welfare Act). He said that as chair of the Senate committee on agriculture in the 15th Congress, “we worked hard to have the original law amended to give it more teeth against violators and to make it more responsive in protecting and promoting animal welfare.” Those found in violation of RA 10631 face imprisonment of two years and one day and a fine of P250,000.
But we wonder if the general public, including those families that think of owning dogs and other pets as part of “uso” or the trend, are even aware that such a law exists.
The Filipino’s continuing education should include considering dogs and cats as what they are: living beings, and not trendy gifts. In an article in Inquirer Lifestyle, Marissa A. Lopa wrote: “Owning a pet is a commitment. It is a living thing that needs constant care and money. The cuteness factor is
only a small fraction of what it entails to have a pet of any kind. With enough care and love, a pet can be your or your children’s faithful friend for life.” Lopa counseled that one should first consider if the recipient really wants a pet and can handle it. Also consider adoption, she said, as there are many
animals in shelters needing a home.
This brings to light the commendable work of groups devoted to rescuing distressed and abused dogs and cats and fostering their adoption. The Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) and Cara (Compassion and Responsibility for Animals) Welfare Philippines are fine exemplars of those who work hard to protect the wellbeing of animals around us. Also laudable are volunteers such as those staffing the Paws and Claws Animal Sanctuary (PCAS), a shelter in San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan, which cares for abandoned and unwanted animals, including some 500 dogs, cats, turtles, chickens, turkeys and goats. “We rescue various kinds of animals all over the country, and relocate them here in our animal shelter for rehabilitation. We nurture and treat them with respect,” said PCAS program director Weng Suzara.
Christmas is the season for caring, and there is ample room for love and compassion for all creatures great and small in these dark times. Wasn’t it the great Mahatma Gandhi who said, “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated”?
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