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Solution is to control stray animal population

/ 12:19 AM April 27, 2015

THE FIGHT to save pets from ignorant officials and animal haters in Quezon City is not over with the repeal of that stupid ordinance limiting pet ownership. A ranking City Hall official has written Vice Mayor Joy Belmonte urging her to smuggle into the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the Veterinary Code that repealed Ordinance No. 2386, the provision limiting to four the number of pets in every household. How sneaky.

But the vice mayor has promised animal welfare groups that they would be consulted before the IRR is approved. In fact, she asked them to make suggestions to improve the Vet Code and its IRR.

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The justification for the four-pet limit is to control the spread of rabies—a good objective, no quarrel about it.

But they are barking up the wrong tree. Rabies is spread by stray animals, not by household pets. Even if a family has 10 dogs and cats, they can’t harm anyone if they can’t get out of their humans’ yards. They have antirabies vaccinations, are taken to the vet regularly, are fed nutritious food, are healthy, and are raised properly.

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On the other hand, even if a family has only one dog but it is allowed to roam outside, that is the one in danger of spreading rabies. Once outside, they can be bitten by rabid dogs and spread the virus by biting others.

The key to stopping rabies is to limit the number of stray animals. And this can be done by spaying and neutering ALL animals, stray or not. Actually, animal welfare groups and kind-hearted families are doing this job for local governments. The Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), for example, rescues abandoned dogs and cats, spays and neuters them, vaccinates and rehabilitates them, and then puts them up for adoption by responsible families. These families adopt the animals and take good care of them and, by themselves, also rescue abandoned kittens, puppies and adult dogs and cats. That is why they end up having many pets.

If pet ownership is limited to four, then who will rescue and adopt these unwanted animals? Everyone can see that the Quezon City government is not doing that. All it is doing is make life harder for its citizens and squeeze them for more and more taxes and fees.

The ordinance mandates families to register their pets and pay P500 for each pet in excess of the four allowed. That’s a lot of money for a poor family that has more than four pets. Do you think poor families will register their pets and pay the fees? A better use for their money is spay/neuter services and vaccinations.

What City Hall should do is give pet owners incentives to register their pets. Offer free antirabies vaccinations, free spay/neuter services, even free collars and dog tags, for every pet registered. Quezon City boasts that it is the richest city in the Philippines because of its high taxes. Give back some of those taxes to the taxpayers in terms of these services and watch pet owners troop to City Hall to have their pets

vaccinated, spayed and neutered. When PAWS offers free spay/neuter services to indigents a couple of times a year, hundreds of people show up with their pets. That’s the surest and fastest way to stop the spread of rabies.

On the other hand, limit pet ownership to four and families who have more than that will turn the excess out into the streets, thus adding to the stray-animal population. PAWS and other groups won’t be able to have their rescued animals adopted by responsible families. And they will no longer rescue abandoned animals. That stupid pet limit will worsen the problem, not solve it.

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And what will City Hall do with the excess pets that it will seize from their human families? Imprison them in cramped cages where they will suffer? After some time, the city pound will have an excess of imprisoned pets. So what will City Hall do then, kill them or sell them to dog meat merchants to be slaughtered? That is prohibited by the Animal Welfare Act. Even just keeping them in cramped cages is prohibited by law. That is cruelty to animals, according to the law.

City Hall officials: Think before you act. Get the help and advice of animal welfare groups.

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MUSIC NOTES: Fans who are wondering why lounge singer Margaux Salcedo has been scarce lately will be glad to know that she will be back at the Tap Room of the Manila Hotel on April 29. She has been traveling with her sister all over Europe, covering international cooking festivals and writing about them in her food column in the Inquirer. She also has a food program on radio.

But her fans need not fret. Margaux will be back at the Tap Room on Wednesday to sing their favorite songs.

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On May 11, the British will invade the Newport Performing Arts Theater at the Resorts World Manila. Six British bands—The Tremeloes, The Troggs, Marmalade, The Animals, Mike Pender of the Searchers, and Spencer Davis—will perform there for one night to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the British Invasion.

The British Invasion had a profound impact on popular music and opened the door for other British performers to achieve international success. It wasn’t just about the Beatles. It was also about The Rolling Stones, Kinks, Hollies, Dave Clark 5, Freddie and the Dreamers, Peter and Gordon, and many others.

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On May 13, two-time Grammy Award winner Peabo Bryson will perform in Manila again, also at Resorts World. Bryson won his first Grammy in 1992 for “Beauty and the Beast” with Celine Dion, and the second in 1993 for “A Whole New World” with Regina Belle. His first top pop single was “If Ever You’re in My Arms Again.”

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