AN online petition over at Change.org rapidly triggered an outpouring of public support here and abroad for the dogs woefully impounded in Boracay, Philippines' internationally acclaimed tourist paradise.
Started a week ago by Ted Teodoro, the petition calls on Boracay Mayor Johnny Yap to stop the cruel treatment of the island's homeless animals, particularly dogs, starting with a recall of his recent policy that disregards animal welfare and rights.
“Using rabies as an excuse, the Mayor and (his) council have unleashed cruel and poorly trained dog catchers upon the stray dogs. Once caught, dogs are confined to the notorious dog pound where they receive no care, water nor food. The dogs experience no form of human kindness,” said Teodoro in his message to online petitioners.
“We obtained firsthand reports corroborating these unacceptable conditions. As the practice goes, the dog catchers intimidate the locals, coercing them to pay higher reclaim fees and thus increasing the dog catchers' income. Some fortunate dogs are nevertheless claimed by their human companions. But, most dogs remain unclaimed because they are homeless or their humans cannot afford the inflated fees,” Teodoro added.
Nearly 7,000 signatures have been gathered as of February 25 that show support for Teodoro's petition. Teodoro warned of the bad effects to Boracay tourism when visitors, especially foreigners learn about the ongoing malpractices at the island's dog pound.
“Abusing animals will lead to a loss of income and respectability for Boracay. The town will acquire a reputation for hideous animal cruelty and tourism will decline,” he said.
Teodoro also said the animal welfare group Aklan Animal Rescue & Rehabilitation Center in Kalibo has already contacted local travel agencies that serve Boracay to inform them about the situation and explain its probable effect to their business. The group hopes travel tours will support the petition to avoid further damage to Boracay's image.
The outpouring of support as evidenced by the number of those that have electronically signed the petition has so far helped the group to arrange a meeting with Yap. Teodoro said they will not terminate the online petition even after its target number of signatures are met as the dogs are counting on more people to sign up and improve their conditions.
Teodoro, in his petition, also pointed out that the cruel and inhumane conditions in Boracay dog pound violate Republic Act (RA) 8485 or “The Animal Welfare Act” and its amendment RA 10631.
“Municipal dog pounds fall under these laws. Republic Act 9482 mandates the role of a Local Government Unit on population control and recognizes the provisions of RA 8485. Therefore, the Mayor is legally required to uphold animal welfare,” he added.