Dog Meat in the Philippines: One Step Closer to Extinction
Here in the United States the thought of eating dog meat is so repellent that we cannot even imagine it. Much to the horror of westerners in many parts of the world eating dog meat has been a part of their culture for a long time but that doesn’t not make this horrific practice any less repellent. In the majority of the world dogs have been considered companion animals for centuries and with today’s hightened awareness of cruelties to animals, practices such as these are becoming illegal and heading closer to extinction day by day as this article from the Humane Society of the US tells us.
Members of the Philippine Animal Welfare Society met with government officials from the National Meat Inspection Services in Quezon City May 23 to discuss one hot topic — the dog meat trade and its place in Filipino culture.
The meeting, sponsored by the Humane Society International, established and toughened regulations regarding dog meat in accordance with the 1998 Animal Welfare Act, and it addressed the use of dog meat for religious practices among indigenous people in the Philippines. The meeting and subsequent agreements were a great accomplishment for dogs and their supporters all over the Philippines.
According to PAWS, an estimated 100,000 dogs are illegally slaughtered each year for commercial purposes in the Philippines, the majority of them via horrifically cruel methods. It is difficult for outsiders to understand how anyone could kill and consume an animal widely seen as a loyal companion, yet the practice is rampant in many parts of Asia. Much of it violates existing laws, which are difficult to enforce.
It is common for dogs waiting to be slaughtered to have their legs painfully tied behind their backs, joints dislocated, and rusting, jagged cans or jars strapped over their muzzles. Many linger for days, only to be butchered in the most inhumane ways imaginable.
Fortunately, these dogs have a strong advocate in PAWS. The group was instrumental in the successful passage of the Philippines’ 1998 Animal Welfare Act, which states, among other things, that dogs are not considered suitable for slaughter and should be provided protection.
A provision to this law, however, allowed the consumption of dogs for cultural or ritual practices. A few provinces take advantage of this loophole by claiming the practice is a cultural custom and continue to slaughter dogs for profit.
The talks were the latest in a long series of meetings to establish guidelines acceptable to all sides of the debate. The Philippines Department of Agriculture Secretary, Domingo Panganiban, signed a special order earlier this year establishing the creation of an Inter Agency Commission, which served as a mediator between animal welfare advocates and government officials.
By the end of the meeting, several new additions to the Animal Welfare Act were recommended, agreed upon unanimously, and will be submitted to Secretary Panganiban. These include:
- Recognition of the rights of indigenous peoples to humanely kill and consume dogs for ritual practices only;
- Solidification of the clause in the Animal Welfare Act that prohibits the slaughter of dogs for commercial purposes and excludes dogs from the list of animals that are legal for milling and consumption;
- Stiffer penalties and more proactive enforcement of this law by local officials;
- A more specific clause asserting the prohibition of dog slaughter, dog trafficking and dog farming for food;
- Suggestions for how to provide an alternative livelihood for those who rely heavily on the dog meat trade; and
- Recognition of the active presence of a Department of Agriculture-Committee on Animal Welfare (DA-CAW), which was established in 1998 with the passage of the Animal Welfare Act
PAWS has actively worked on the dog meat issue for years, and in early 2006 negotiated an agreement between the government of Benguet province and federal officials to halt the killing and eating of dogs, stating that those who performed this activity also profited from it, violating the Animal Welfare Act.
The province relented and the dog meat trade was halted. This victory opened the doors to more negotiations and will hopefully deter other provinces from using such tactics to justify this barbaric practice.
HSI commends PAWS, one of our Animal Advocate award winners in 2000, for its hard work in saving thousands of dogs from a cruel fate and finding a diplomatic solution for all parties involved.
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