NEWS & FEATURES
Have you heard the woofest mews?
Have you heard the woofest mews?
THE barbaric Yulin dog meat festival went ahead as planned last June 22 despite growing protests from within China and around the world. AnimalsAsia Foundation, one of the groups that campaigned heavily against the event, reported that about 2,000 dogs – most of them stolen companion animals or strays – were tortured and brutally slaughtered for the table.
But the event was far smaller in scale than previous years thanks to the widespread criticism. More than 130,000 people from around the globe signed our open letter to the dog meat traders, and Chinese people of all ages took to social media in their thousands to protest against the slaughter.
Jill Robinson MBE, AnimalsAsia founder and CEO, said Yulin authorities distanced themselves from the event by strengthening supervision of the market and banning the slaughter of dogs on the street. They also prevented restaurants from advertising dog meat. She said more officials are seriously concerned with the widespread theft of dogs and the transport of caged and sick dogs that clearly adds to the threat of rabies and other diseases.
But 2,000 dogs are still far too many, and they are just the tip of the iceberg – up to 10 million dogs are slaughtered each year in China for their meat and fur.
AnimalsAsia's Cat and Dog Welfare team is working with city authorities and local animal welfare groups around China to:
* Promote animal protection laws and the banning of the sale, transportation and slaughter of dogs for their meat as soon as possible.
* Encourage the government to strengthen supervision and law enforcement in each link of the industry chain, including stronger penalties for stealing and poisoning dogs, banning the existing illegal slaughter and trade of dogs, and intensified supervision over illicit trafficking of dogs.
* Encourage the public to recognise that by consuming dogs they are encouraging theft and other crimes and also risking their own health.
* Encourage city authorities and local animal welfare groups around China to introduce humane population management and vaccination programs.
“We are doing all we can to stop the slaughter and we are seeing real progress. But there’s still much to do – and we’re going to need your help every step of the way,” said Robinson in a statement.
IN JAPAN, a new scientific study suggests that dogs can tell when people are not being nice to their owners.
Using 18 dogs for the experiment, scientists allowed them to watch their respective owners each ask for a simple help of opening a box from two different strangers. As it played out, the dogs later learned to be indifferent to the person that refused their owners any help, even if that person is offering them food.
The dogs' ability to put their owners' interest above theirs proves that they can intelligently make social and emotional evaluations; proving once more that they are indeed man's best friend.
Aside from dogs, the other animal species said to have this ability is the tufted capuchin, but it;s not been established yet if it was out of complete selflessness.
The results of this latest dog trait study will be published in the journal Animal Behaviour.
By ALMA J. BUELVA
YOU can't rush perfection just as you cannot hurry love. These two truisms explain the repeated delays in the opening of Velvet Friends Cat Cafe as the owners strove to take care of the smallest details so that even if the cafe of their dreams is not the first, it certainly will be the finest.
Days before its official opening, people curiously stopped by and peered into the cafe, hoping to get a glimpse of the cats. Word quickly spread about the arrival of 14 magnificently handsome cats that include a Puspin (Pusang Pinoy) in black and white tuxedo markings, housed in an upcoming cat cafe on the second floor of Blue Bay Walk in Pasay City.
As last-minute finishing touches were applied at a feverish pace for Velvet Friends Cat Cafe's opening, the cats handled themselves beautifully, quickly settling into their cat haven.
The haven is a 40-square-meter cozy zone furnished with all the kitty comforts, including cat towers and condos, water fountains, food bowls, scratching posts, lofts and walkways, hidden loos and their own grooming room.
The cat haven looks out into a huge park that provides a gorgeous outdoor backdrop day and night for the cats.
The entire 106-square-meter place is designed with a soft shabby chic feel that is evident in the veranda style cafe section, complete with trellis and customized metal chairs with cushioned seats wrapped in cat prints. It is a polished yet relaxed ambiance, perfect for sipping coffee while enjoying a different kind of view – a room full of cats.
Velvet Friends Cat Cafe's proprietor, Chito Aclon, told MetroPets that with their remarkable lineup of cats and actual store already in place, they have secured the necessary government permits, including a certification from the Bureau of Animal Industry to operate what is essentially an animal facility. As required by BAI, the cafe has appointed an official veterinarian to be part of its team, he said.
To enjoy the company of Velvet Friends' resident cats, one must pay an admission fee of P190 for children below 10 years old and senior citizens, P240 for students and P290 for regular customers. That rate is good for an hour inside the cat haven.
Guests are required to leave an ID and sign a waiver before they can enter the cat haven. The cafe employs cat attendants who would orient guests about rules to follow inside the cat area. They will also be around to assist guests with other information they need to know, especially on how to handle cats.
Customers can use the lockers to safely stow their personal belongings. They may also bring along their own cats that have proof of vaccination, and house them in the cafe's cat hotel.
The cat haven can accommodate up to 16 people at a time, but Aclon said they would try to reduce the number if possible to keep the cats from being stressed.
Unlike other cat cafes in the city, Velvet Friends Cat Cafe will not use an online reservation system, which means walk-in customers are welcome all the time.
The cafe will follow the normal mall hours of 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. on weekends. However, they will temporarily close from 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. daily to give the cats some quiet time and tidy up the place.
Velvet Friends Cat Cafe takes pride in having collected a number of commissioned cat art works, books on cats as well as cat-inspired items from abroad to fill up its upcoming shop.
Royal Canin is the official provider of dry food for Aclon's cats. The company is expected to hold occasional educational programs at the cafe to raise awareness about cats' health and wellness.
Kittens, if there are any, will have their own protected area inside the haven and will be available for viewing only.
By thoroughly planning and providing the facilities that would make the cats' stay and the customers' visit to its cat cafe more comfortable and enjoyable, Velvet Friends Cat Cafe managed to raise the bar of quality for this new business niche. They have pulled out all the stops and clearly didn't just rustle up a few chairs and tables and brought a clowder in a room and called it a day.
They have yet to face the greatest test: real customer feedback. But judging by how people outside were craning their necks to get a glimpse of the beguiling creatures inside, the velvety cats have this cafe's fate in their paws.
UNLESS you really fuss over your dog's hygiene and spend on products to make them smell good, dogs can be rather smelly. It gets worse when they get wet as they send odiferous molecules to our nose that trigger sensory neurons which signal the olfactory center of our brain. There's chemistry at work behind the bad wet dog smell.
According to an entry in the app Curio: "Dog fur is swarming with bacteria and yeasts that excrete smelly compounds. When dry, these microscopic molecules don’t emit a scent (just like cow dung doesn't smell when it's dry). But adding H20 breaks the chemical bonds holding the yeast and bacteria poop together. This unleashes the pungent scent we know as “wet dog smell." What's more, as the water on the dog evaporates, it carries these smelly molecules with it. Creating even denser stinky air for your nasal neuron pleasure!"
Of course, bathing is not an issue though it makes dogs wet in the process. The stinky doggie smell happens usually when a dog's dirty fur gets wet and dry. Oh my, you can almost smell it now, don't you?
* Laika and Felicette, pioneer pet astronauts