NEWS & FEATURES
Have you heard the woofest mews?
Have you heard the woofest mews?
“THE more men I meet, the more I love my dog.”
That's a line from a song of Carrie Underwood which reverberates truth in many homes, especially in the United States and the United Kingdom, where the pet dogs' companionship are sometimes given more value than spouses and in-laws.
Many British apparently consider their pets to be more important family members than their in-laws, as could be gleaned from the results of a poll for a marketing campaign on modern families.
The Telegraph said when poll participants were asked who they would consider to be “close family members” from a list of options, only 21 percent opted for their parents in law, but 22 percent selected their pet or pets.
Dogs in particular are loved in many modern families because dogs are the kind that really throw themselves at family members to express their boundless love and devotion to the ones that care for them.
PETS IN DIVORCE
Pets also tend to have some immunity from all the negativity that could come from a divorce. Even when things turn sour, some pet parents choose to be amicable with each other so they could continue to care for their pets under some new arrangements.
In Alaska, lawmakers want to ensure that the state protects pets by making sure the courts would make divorcing couples sign off on agreements that would be favorable to their pets, be it a dog or a cat or other animals.
House Bill 147 addresses pets in divorces, spells out protections for pets in domestic violence situations and provides animal shelters and others with a way to recover the cost of caring for an animal that’s seized from a home. If it passes, Alaska would be the first state with a law explicitly allowing a judge to issue joint ownership of a pet.
Pets are legally considered property, but most divorcing couples don't treat their pets as assets but more like children that are subject to shared custody and financial arrangements.
Pets usually would show who they like or love more: the husband or the wife. Legal experts believe the pet's emotional attachment to the husband or the wife should be strongly considered when determining who gets custody of a pet. In addition, the court may consider other factors such as:
* Who takes care of the animal's daily basic needs?
* Who takes the pet to the veterinarian?
* Who trains and socializes the animal?
* Who can afford to pay for the pet's needs?
THE controversial Ordinance 2386 that set a four-pet limit per household in Quezon City will be repealed for good and it would be on the amended Veterinary Code.
This is the promise made by Quezon City Vice Mayor Joy Belmonte when she met with representatives of animal welfare groups who staged a protest rally in front of the City Hall two days ago to protest the four-pet limit.
In the meeting, Belmonte also allowed animal welfare groups to give their inputs that would craft the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of the Veterinary Code.
Anna Cabrera, executive director of the Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), said PAWS was also offered a chance to play a pivotal role in improving the management of the Quezon City pound and in pushing for animal welfare initiatives in many aspects of the city’s operations – from animal control to public health and education.
PAWS is a non-government organization with headquarters in Quezon City.
PAWS will announce the details of its partnership with the Quezon City government and put out the black-and-white repeal of Ordinance 2386 as soon as it is available.
THE Quezon City Government issues this statement in good faith in order to clarify certain matters relative to Ordinance No. SP-2386, S-2014, otherwise known as The Comprehensive Animal Regulation and Control Ordinance, which was enacted on December 15, 2014.
On April 14, 2015, media reports circulated regarding certain provisions of the measure that generated strong and emotional responses from constituents and animal welfare organizations. These included restrictions on the number of dogs and cats allowed per household to four (4) further specifying space requirements per pet, and the necessity of applying for a special permit for additional pets in the amount of P500 each.
It must be noted that a more recent measure was approved and signed into law on March 26, 2015 by Mayor Herbert M. Bautista known as the Quezon City Veterinary Code. The Veterinary Code updated and integrated all applicable laws and ordinances concerning animals to ensure they are in consonance with modern standards and practices and to provide a handy reference and guide for their implementation.
Among others, the Veterinary Code provides for rules concerning the registration of pet animals, provides for the registration and vaccination of domesticated animals, and includes provisions pertaining to the control and prevention of rabies.
It must be emphasized that the provisions of the Comprehensive Animal Regulation and Control Ordinance in relation to the restriction of pets to a maximum of four (4) per household and the requirement of securing a special permit for additional pets, with an administrative cost of PhP500, have been omitted from this latest measure. In effect, the Veterinary Code, as the more recent ordinance, has modified the Comprehensive Animal Regulation and Control Ordinance.
At present, the Implementing Rules and Regulations or IRR of the Veterinary Code have yet to be crafted and it is the intention of the Quezon City Government to ensure that these implementing rules, in keeping with the spirit and intent of the Veterinary Code, adequately address pressing issues such as how to manage the stray dog population, roughly comprising 150,000 or half of the City's estimated dog population; how to minimize animal bite incidens, which from January to December 2014 numbered 13,220; and how to uphold the tenets of responsible pet ownership including proper care and vaccination.
We wish to reiterate that Quezon City is committed not only to protecting the well-being of its people, but also their pets and bears their constituents' best interests in mind with regard to pet ownership. However, we also emphasize that owning pets entails certain responsibilities that must be strictly observed for the good of the general public. Rest assured that the City will not impose unreasonable and oppressive restrictions to the detriment of the people, which will unduly hamper their right to enjoy the company of their beloved pets.
Keeping in mind that all stakeholders are relevant players in governance, the City welcomes all comments, suggestions and recommendations in crafting any ordinance or in this case, the IRR of the Veterinary Code, in pursuit of responsible pet ownership and the humane treatment of animals in Quezon City.
By ALMA J. BUELVA
THE heat of the mid-day sun was no match to the flaring tempers of pet lovers who gathered in front of the Quezon City Hall on April 15 to denounce Ordinance No. 2386 that set a four-pet limit per household. This despite an announcement from the Office of Quezon City Vice Mayor Joy Belmonte that the newer Veterinary Code has superseded and repealed the four-pet rule.
Led by members of the Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), the rally gathered other animal welfare and rescue groups and private citizens who demand the absolute repeal of Ordinance No. 2386 in a formal, separate document. They said Ordinance 2386 is unfair to pets and their responsible owners in a city that doesn't even have a government program for low-cost or free animal spay and neuter services.
A handful of staff from the office of Quezon City Vice Mayor Joy Belmonte stood on the sidelines after their futile attempts to explain to the protesters that the Veterinary Code has supposedly omitted the four-pet per household limit.
Anna Cabrera, executive director of PAWS, lamented the lack of consultation with animal welfare groups before the questionable ordinance was passed. She also adamantly questioned the timeline of the signing of the ordinance and the Veterinary code and the distribution of information to the media.
“Ordinance 2386 was signed last March 13 while the Veterinary Code was signed March 26. But on April 8, the Public Affairs and Information Service Office of the Quezon City government sent e-mails to members of media about the provisions of Ordinance 2386. Something is not right. Why would the councilors pass Ordinance 2386 barely two weeks before the signing of the Veterinary Code that will repeal it? Clearly, they lack coordination,” said Cabrera.
Ordinance No. 2386 was authored by councilors Jessica Castelo Daza and Raquel Malañgen, and was called the Comprehensive Animal Regulation and Control Ordinance. Although signed by Mayor Herbert Bautista, it not only had no Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR), it was also superseded by the Veterinary Code that no longer set any pet limit per household, said Atty. Francis Germar from the Office of Vice Mayor Belmonte.
After the rally, an impromptu meeting between Germar and Cabrera took place outside the city hall's lobby. Germar reiterated that in Sec. 68 of the Veterinary Code “all ordinances, issuance, rules and regulations inconsistent with the provisions of the Code have been repealed, amended, rescinded and/or modified accordingly.”
Cabrera, however, was not buying it. She pointed out that nothing in the Veterinary Code explicitly mentions the repeal of the four-pet limit, adding that to treat it as an “incidental” is dangerous as it can be subject to anyone's interpretation still.
“The Veterinary Code was not crafted to repeal Ordinance 2386. It doesn't mention anything about the four-pet limit. The bulk of it is about meat inspection and hot meat...Huwag niyo kami paikutin (Don't give us the runaround). Apologize to the animal welfare groups and responsible pet owners and repeal the four-pet rule in a separate document. Don't give us the Veterinary Code as an excuse to cover your mistake,” said Cabrera.
Germar said they will find out why their media office released a bulletin on Ordinance 2386. He, however, said that the Veterinary Code is not just about meat inspection because its Article VI and VII deal with the registration of domesticated animals, the impounding and disposal of unclaimed pets, the liability of pet owners when their pets cause injury to others, and about rabies control and prevention.
Still, animal lovers present were not satisfied with his explanations or the official statement of the QC government and demanded something in black-and-white.
“Don't hide behind this thick Veterinary Code where you just seem to be spitting out a subsequent law to make a bad dream go away,” said Cabrera. “You give us copies of this Code to study when those behind Ordinance 2386 who should have done their homework.”
At the rally, animal advocates and pet owners took turn expressing their views on the four-pet limit per household in Quezon City, some of them not even from Quezon City but wanted to empathize and show solidarity so Ordinance 2386 would not be duplicated elsewhere in the country.
“The four-pet limit is not a lasting solution. Pets must be fixed – “kapon” – to solve the pet over population problem,” said Cabrera.
Some protesters admonished the Quezon City government for passing Ordinance 2386 that could be used to harass responsible pet owners by anyone who don't like pets. Because one of its objectives was supposedly to prevent the spread of rabies and other animal-human transmitted diseases, one protester rebuked the filthy Quezon City pound as the source of zoonotic diseases.
“Quezon City government clean your own backyard first,” a woman protester yelled. “If you want to catch zoonotic diseases, go to the Quezon City pound where the dogs are in small cages together, with no food and water.”
Another woman lashed out that “it's not the government's business how many friends she wants to invite or keep in her house. If my friends happen to have four legs, but I can responsibly take care of them, why take them away from me or fine me?”
Lastly, a representative from CARA Welfare Philippines emotionally berated the local government for threatening to limit the number of pets per household when the squatter areas are full of people living shanties “tapos ang dami dami pang anak (and with lots of children).” The CARA member also said responsible pet owners should be allowed to take care of as many pets as they can, but those irresponsible pet owners, “kahit isa, hindi pwede (not even one is allowed).”
Germar said they will make sure to contact all stakeholders like CARA when the IRR of the Veterinary Code is to be fleshed out.
THE Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) is strongly against the new Quezon City Ordinance No. 2386 that limits every household in the city from having more than four pets.
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.”
RAFE BROWN, curator-in-charge of the herpetology division at the University of Kansas’ Biodiversity Institute, has devoted years to cataloging and conserving the biodiversity of the Philippines, a nation he views as an ecological treasure house.
It’s no wonder that Brown finds Manila’s wide-ranging black market in exotic animals to be “bizarre and grotesque.” He said Manila’s criminal trade in animals ranges from pet stores “with many endangered and illegal species hidden behind the scenes” to major international wildlife violators and wholesale smuggling rackets.
“The operations involve everything from sea turtles, to ivory, to tiger parts and rhino horns,” Brown said. “These involve private individuals, pet store owners, politicians, zookeepers and corrupt government officials. Many animals are sold as pets and ‘captive breeding’ stock and zoo specimens. Many are sold as food, many are slaughtered and sold as parts for ‘medicinal’ purposes and aphrodisiacs, and many are huge, high-stakes status symbols for the wealthy elite — such as tigers, monkeys and Komodo dragons.”
Recently, amid this commerce, Brown and colleagues discovered two species of water monitor lizard that were previously unknown to science. They have just published descriptions of the new species in the journal Zootaxa, along with an analysis of Manila’s illegal pet and bush-meat trade in the journal Biological Conservation. Moreover, a film documentary about their remarkable discovery is in the works.
“Over a five-year period we visited pet markets, roadside bush-meat stands and various other markets where monitor lizards were sold as pets or meat,” said the KU researcher. “We used to walk around pet markets and side streets talking to traders using circuitous conversation and eventually getting around to asking them if they had ‘anything else’ behind the scenes or in the back room.”
Oftentimes, sellers would offer Brown and his fellow researchers “a turtle or monitor lizard or some other animal which they should not have had in their possession," he said. The team purchased these reptiles to genetically analyze them at KU in an effort to help Philippine police and conservationists.
“Our plan was to build genetic databases to use as enforcement references for confiscated animals, to empower local enforcement officials with the forensic, scientific and legal means of establishing a confiscated animal’s provenance,” Brown said. “We were aware that traders routinely mislead buyers with fantastic stories of animals’ origins to fetch a higher price, so we reasoned that genetic methods could pinpoint an animal’s origins when a trader’s account was not to be trusted.”
In the process, to their surprise, the researchers found genetic varieties of water monitor lizards that varied sharply from those common to the areas surrounding Manila. This was their first clue that additional species diversity might exist, hidden within the northern Philippine water monitor lizard population.
“Both are gorgeous, black-and-white or black- and yellow-colored animals,” Brown said. “They are dark in general appearance with bright speckling of white or yellow spots arranged in rows and stripes around the body, as if wearing shining necklaces. One gets up to a little over three feet in length, and the other is somewhat larger at about four feet. They’re monitor lizards, so they’re alert, with large eyes, continually flicking long tongues, which they ‘smell’ with, and they’re generally very alert and look quite intelligent.”
Back at KU, Brown and his colleagues Luke Welton, now with Brigham Young University; Cameron Siler, now with the University of Oklahoma, and Mae Diesmos, with the University of Santo Tomas, Manila, sequenced the mitochondrial and nuclear DNA of the monitor lizard samples. They found the two lizards were “morphologically cryptic,” meaning they looked much like known species of monitor lizard, but their genetic variation indicated they were evolutionarily distinctive, qualifying them as unique species. The researchers named the lizards Varanus dalubhasa and Varanus bangonorum.
According to Brown, conservationists had overlooked the lizards because they were considered to be the same as another, widespread species. Now, the two new species are becoming a priority for conservation efforts.
“They were confused with species that were physically very similar in scale numbers, shapes, color patterns and body size,” he said. “But even though they looked similar, it now makes perfect sense to us in hindsight that they should be distinct and considered separate species because they come from different areas — a separate island in one case and an isolated peninsula in another. Both have been isolated for considerable geological time.”
From other animals procured from Manila’s black market, the KU-based research team found that half of the time traders had misled them, reporting “exotic” locales for their animal wares in hope of getting higher prices.
“We used standard DNA sequencing technology, determined the genetic types of the samples from traders, compared them to our wild-caught, known-locality samples and then ‘ground-truthed’ what the traders told us versus what the genetics inferred,” Brown said.
According to Brown, much of the illicit trade has moved online recently, where traders utilize social networks to hawk animals.
“Whereas two years ago, deals were frequently made in the back alleys of streets of Manila, most are now made online, using the most rapidly growing scourge of wildlife protection — Facebook,” he said. “Today, Facebook is the primary means with which unscrupulous individuals deal in wares of illegally harvested wild animals.”
The National Science Foundation funded this work. The Philippine Biodiversity Management Bureau and the KU Biodiversity Institute supported Brown and his students throughout the lengthy period that it took to complete the undercover research. Other team members included Arvin Diesmos, Emerson Sy and Vicente “Enteng” Yngente.
The University of Kansas is a major comprehensive research and teaching university. The university's mission is to lift students and society by educating leaders, building healthy communities and making discoveries that change the world. The KU News Service is the central public relations office for the Lawrence campus.
(Published with permission from the University of Kansas KU News Service)
* Laika and Felicette, pioneer pet astronauts