NEWS & FEATURES
Have you heard the woofest mews?
Have you heard the woofest mews?
MANY Singaporeans have a soft spot for their dog mongrels as evidenced by the huge number of those who attended this year's Singapore Pet Expo with their mutts in tow. A total of 60 mongrels paraded on and in front of the stage for the first largest gathering of their kind in the island state. It was a grand display of solidarity and love for a type of dog that is often misunderstood and neglected.
While Philippines calls its native dogs Aspins (Asong Pinoy), Singaporeans call theirs “Singapore Specials” which is also the name of their mongrel appreciation club. Formed last year, the Singapore Special Club has since been attracting more members who are proud owners of mutts. The group tries to elevate the image of the humble mongrel by vouching for their character to be just as loving and trainable as purebred dogs. They also advocate adoption as many mongrels are still experiencing bias.
At the pet show, mongrels proved that they can be beautiful, sweet, protective of their owners, warm and affectionate and above all well-behaved.
To make their gathering more interesting, the search for the mongrel with the most interesting coat pattern and the longest tail wagging ability was done on the spot and two mongrels came out ahead of the pack.
Earlier, Teo Ser Luck, Singapore's Minister of State for Trade and Industry and Mayor of the North East District, said the government is aware of the growing population of pets in the country and the attendant need to have policies in place to guarantee their welfare.
DOG and cat owners in the country no longer have to pay laboratory fees to have their pets tested for rabies.
The Department of Agriculture has issued a moratorium on charging of laboratory fee for rabies examination in government facilities like the Philippine Animal Health Center of the Bureau of Animal Industry (DA-BAI) and the Regional Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratories (RADDLs) of the Department of Agriculture Regional Field Offices beginning February 2015 until December 31, 2016.
Although rabies diagnosis is available in government facilities, there are still unreported cases of animal rabies due to non-submission of samples for laboratory confirmation. The payment of a laboratory fee for rabies is seen as a hindrance because most people in rural areas could not afford to pay the fee.
The DA-BAI decided to waive the lab fee to encourage more people to report suspected animal rabies cases and promote dog vaccination that will help hasten the goal of a rabies-free Philippines by 2016. The move should also help them obtain a clearer picture of the disease situation to support the channelling of resources for rabies prevention and control in greatly affected areas.
"There are a number of people who could not afford to pay the Php 200.00 laboratory fee for rabies examination. In waiving the laboratory fee, more pet owners especially in the rural areas will be encouraged to have their dogs tested for rabies" said Dr. Emelinda Lopez, Rabies Focal Person at DA-BAI.
The agency targets to vaccinate at least 70 percent of the estimated dog population in the country or about 7 million dogs yearly for the next two years.
Rabies Awareness Month, celebrated annually every March, aims to increase public awareness on the risks of rabies and the importance of having dogs and cats vaccinated regularly against this fatal disease.
This year’s campaign draws from BAI's Php 40 million budget for rabies prevention and control, with support from the Department of Health (DOH). A foreign-assistance from the World Organization for Animal Health and the Australian Government which aims to vaccinate 300,000 dogs annually in the Bicol region also helps in national efforts to eradicate rabies.
Lopez urged Filipinos to be responsible pet owners by giving good nutrition, clean shelter, proper grooming, and health care to their pets. She said pets must not be abandoned or allowed to roam the streets unattended to prevent the spread of rabies. More importantly, pets must be vaccinated regularly against rabies, she added.
* Pet rock, anyone?