To register its opposition, PAWS has called on animal lovers to participate in a silent protest in front of the QC Municipal Building on April 15, 9:30 a.m. and has issued an official statement deploring the provisions of what it believes is an anti-pet policy.
Ordinance No. 2386, by councilors Jessica Castelo Daza and Raquel Malañgen, calls for comprehensive animal regulation and control in Quezon City mainly for health reasons. A report from the Philippine Daily Inquirer said Mayor Herbert Bautista is yet to sign it for implementation, but PAWS said it was already signed and approved by Bautista last March 13, 2015. The ordinance was released to the press last April 8 by the City’s Public Administration and Information Service Office (PAISO).
Responsible pet owners from and outside Quezon City are also equally appalled by the said ordinance and many took the news with much disdain for the two councilors who authored the ordinance.
Judging by comments online, the general public opinion questions the lack of consultation with those who would be affected (and there are many) and the justification and the real intent of what many see as anti-pet policy. More importantly, pet lovers are raising the alarm against possible animal rights abuse that the new ordinance could invite.
Ordinance No. 2386 combines two old pet-related ordinances on registration, vaccination and tagging and stray animals. If signed by Bautista, Daza and Malañgen's brainchild would obligate Quezon City residents to do the following:
* Pay P500 for special permit to keep more than four pets.
* Pay P200 registration fee with the city veterinarian for each pet three months old and above.
* Pay for vaccinations, anti-rabies shots before pets registration.
* Pay a fine of up to P2,000 for repeated violation.
* Have pets confiscated and permits revoked by the city government.
* Have a pets area measuring at least 12 to 24 square feet.
* Fish and birds kept as pets can number up to 30.
PAWS has thumbed down the four-pet rule in Quezon City with Anna Cabrera, PAWS Executive Director, saying that the authors and the approving authorities of Ordinance 2386 "did little in terms of getting proper and sufficient information on dog behavior before putting out this ordinance.”
PAWS statement reads: "The ordinance is unclear, promotes pet abandonment – which is a violation of The Animal Welfare Act -and infringes on pet owners’ rights to property and their right to privacy. Further, the ordinance only recognizes sellers and breeders of pets as deserving of a P500 special permit and remains silent on the granting of a special consideration for the large number of concerned citizens – whether individual or groups - who help the City Government address animal control problems at the root by choosing to spay or neuter their own pets and regularly rescue, adopt or foster a dog from the streets or from Pounds and animal shelters.
"The ordinance imposes a four-pet limit for households in Quezon City granting a "special permit" only under vague circumstances cited, among them- as mentioned in Section 8 - "No complaints regarding the keeping of such number of dogs or cats as running loose, foul odors, defecation, damage to property, injury to persons and other associated (sic) circumstances." The section implies that even defecation of animals – a natural occurrence – can be cited as grounds for a complaint."
PAWS said they tried to contact the Office of the QC Mayor on April 14 for an urgent meeting on the issue to no avail. PAWS cited a source who claimed that the Vice Mayor, City Veterinarian and Councilor Daza released a new statement to the press that the “pet restriction ordinance is effectively repealed.” Instead a newer ordinance -- the 'veterinary code’, that does not have the pet restriction, will “supersede the older one”.
PAWS said the new veterinary code is seemingly the officials’ way of sweeping the issue under the rug to quell any public protest about the controversial ordinance.
PAWS is of the opinion that the prohibited acts in the said ordinance are ill-worded and much too open to any kind of interpretation to the detriment of responsible pet owners and animal rescuers, fosterers or adopters.
Most comments online find the P500 questionable and likened it to a quick money-making scheme by the local government. They also ask the officials why they would single out household pets while the city faces so many other pressing social issues and problems.
At least one public personality, actress Heart Evangelista, came out in her Instagram account to oppose it. The wife of Sen. Chiz Escudero said the ordinance seems to promote “dog/cat lovers to abandon their dogs no matter what age and how long they have had the dog/cat in their home. Pet abandonment is a crime under amended AWA (Animal Welfare Act). If people are imposed penalties or fees for having more than four pets…this may increase the incidence of pet abandonments.”
A PAWS spokesperson, Heart owns pets, including some Aspins (Asong Pinoy). She said PAWS was not informed nor consulted before the ordinance was passed.
She also said in her Instagram post that “There are many animal lovers that will be affected negatively by this ordinance because they are currently keeping more than 4 pets and a lot of them aren’t breeders or businessmen but people with kind hearts who took in a homeless stray.”