Editorial: Dead dogs of Asturias, Cebu

·3 min read

DOGS know hunger. If they are starving, they could become beasts just to survive. This happened in Asturias, a town in the northwestern part of Cebu.

Images of dead dogs and hungry dogs eating the dead ones in a pound in Asturias town, Cebu recently circulated on Facebook, drawing condemnation from some netizens, including dog lovers and animal rescue groups.

The agriculture office of the Asturias Municipal Government was instructed by the mayor to launch an investigation to determine what went wrong in the facility.

Asturias Municipal Government has gathered stray dogs since September this year after announcing the strict implementation of the Dog Care and Anti-Rabies Ordinance of 2010, which is in line with Republic Act (RA) 9482 (The Anti-Rabies Act of 2007). The law mandates all local government units to have control over all stray animals by enacting local ordinance.

The government wants to protect the public from stray animals, including dogs. Unhealthy animals could be carriers of rabies, a deadly virus.

The viral images clearly showed that the impounded dogs were not in good condition, which means they did not receive proper care from the pound’s handlers.

Facebook user Clara Isabelle called out Asturias’ local government: “What is happening now? The dogs you captured are dying and eating their own kind out of hunger... because you aren’t feeding them. This is animal cruelty! If you can’t do it right and handle the obligation, stop what you are doing and try to revisit your ordinance!”

The animal pound handlers must be reminded about the Animal Welfare Act of 1998 as amended. Section 6 of the law states that “it shall be unlawful for any person to torture any animal, to neglect to provide adequate care, subject any dog or horse to dogfights or horsefights, kill or cause or procure to be tortured or deprived of adequate care, sustenance or shelter, or maltreat or use the same in research or experiments not expressly authorized by the Committee on Animal Welfare.”

They should be reminded also that in 2015, the Department of Agriculture issued guidelines for the establishment of animal pounds. Some of the provisions state that “designs of pounds shall provide an environment conducive to maintaining animal health. Facilities shall be appropriate to species, the number of animals receiving care and the expected length of stay in order to ensure physical and psychological well-being of the animals.” Further, the DA instructed that the “pound holding cages or stalls, whether for single or group housing, shall provide enough space for each animal to feed, sleep, sit, stand, lie with limbs extended, stretch and move about.”

Asturias’ agriculture office must be serious in its investigation and mete out appropriate punishment.

The municipal government must tell its personnel involved in catching stray animals to observe these Basic Freedoms of Animals (adopted by the Committee on Animal Welfare through the Animal Welfare Division): freedom from thirst, hunger and malnutrition; freedom from physical discomfort and pain; freedom from injury and disease; freedom to conform to essential behavior patterns; and freedom from fear and distress.

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