NEWS & FEATURES
Have you heard the woofest mews?
Have you heard the woofest mews?
THE Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) has issued Memorandum Circular No. 2019-019 which guarantees the rights of pets to ride with their owners any public transport such as buses, jeepneys, taxis and tricycles, among others.
This new ruling was lauded by pet lovers in the country, many of whom have complained in the past about difficult commute when public transport drivers won't accommodate their pets. The new ruling was in response to a public clamor from groups of pet owners/lovers who consistently appealed to the LTFRB to allow pets in public transport.
The LTFRB has resolved the matter by harmonizing its policies with the provisions enshrined in R.A. No. 8485 or the Animal Welfare Act, so that pets can now have access to public transport subject to the following conditions:
1. The animals are put inside carriers/cages and placed at designated animal compartment of the PUV, should there be other passengers inside the PUV.
2. If there are no other passengers, pets may be allowed to be carried by the owner as long as said animals are free from foul odor and that the owner maintains cleanliness and sanitation. Further, the possessor or pet owner shall be responsible for the damage that the pet may cause, including the cleaning and sanitation of the PUV, as may be necessary.
3. Safety, convenience and comfort of the passengers shall not in any way be sacrificed.
The pro-pet memorandum is already in effect since its issuance last April 15, 2019. -- MetroPets
IN Brazil, a recent drug bust operation revealed an unlikely "suspect". A brown dog who apparently belonged to one of the men rounded up by authorities obediently surrendered with his humans.
In the photo provided by Europics, the dog could be seen lying on the ground with the alleged members of a drug syndicate. To prove he is not hiding anything, the dog even lied on his back to show policemen his clean belly.
The report from NY Post said the dog barked throughout the commotion before deciding to join his owner and friends who were down on the ground. But because he was clearly a good boy, the brown dog was not arrested with the humans. Officers declared that doggie was not a drug user and should be rewarded instead with treats. -- MetroPets
IF there's a country that will invent an automatic dog toilet, it has to be Japan. Known for its high-tech toilets fitted with air dryers and bidets for different wash functions, Japan's expertise when it comes to washroom fixtures can now benefit dogs as well.
At the recent Intrapets show in Tokyo, Japan First Step Co., Ltd. showcased the Wan-wan Meister which the company claims to be the world's first fully-automated pet toilet. This flat-bed toilet features self-winding absorbent special sheets of paper, indicator lamps, a waste tray and sensors.
Designed for indoor use, particularly in small apartments or condominiums, the Wan-wan Meister automatically rolls away soiled sheets and brings forth fresh ones thanks to its built-in sensitivity sensors that controls the conveyor belt. The surface starts to move slowly five seconds after the dog has done its “business”. Movement will stop if the dog decides to hop back in to his toilet and will resume again once the sensor detects that the dog has moved away again.
Solid wastes get deposited inside a waste box at the end of the flat-bed, which can be easily washed.
The Wan-wan Meitser automatically cleans after pets so their toilet area stays tidy even when no one is home to immediately remove the soiled sheets.
The manufacturer sells the Wan-wan Meister for JP¥188,000 with three rolls of paper. Each roll is 30 meters long (45cm wide). Company chairman Hirotaka Tohara told MetroPets that a one-dog-household should use up one roll of Wan-wan Meister toilet paper in 10 days if their dog poops at least once and pees at least five times daily.
The Wan-wan Meister has casters or wheels for easy placement in different areas around the house. The color green model for mid-sized dog type is slightly bigger than the pink color model which is designed for small dogs.
Here's a video of how the product works.
The Wan-want Meister international patent is pending. But pet owners in Japan can already purchase this product. -- MetroPets
THE hotly contested issue of leaving pets, particularly dogs, alone in cars while their owners are away to do some errands might soon be resolved for good if only everyone drives a Tesla car.
The electric car maker has launched “Dog Mode”, a function which will allow the air conditioning to remain on while the car is locked and secured, creating a safer environment for pets. People outside looking in can even see a big monitor that shows the temperature inside the car, which should reassure them that there's no need to intervene and break the car's glass windows.
According to PETA, 15 minutes is all it takes for pets to suffer from heat stroke in a hot car. During summer, the lethal mistake of leaving pets locked up in hot cars can kill them even faster.
The creation of Dog Mode was a direct response by Elon Musk, co-founder of Tesla, to a Twitter user who requested for such feature. The billionaire then quickly developed Dog Mode which, aside from showing the temperature inside the car, will also let passers-by read a message that the pets' owner will be back right away.
Other safety features includes an alert system that notifies Tesla owner when the car's battery drops below 20 percent while in Dog Mode and that they should return before the air conditioning dies.
As it is still in prototype phase, the Dog Mode is planned to be rolled out in select Tesla cars initially. Musk said Dog Mode will also have Cabin Overheat Protection, which come on automatically at high temps to ensure any babies or pets in the car are safe. -- MetroPets
STARBUCKS in China recently released an insanely cute transparent mug featuring a cat's paw inside that becomes visible when coffee or any liquid is poured into it.
The cat-paw mug literally became an overnight success as supplies were reportedly depleted in 24 hours and caused some customers to become catty with one another, even resulting in brawls among those who desperately wanted to take one home.
Here's how it looks when empty:
This is not the first time that Starbucks released a cat-inspired mug. In Korea and Taiwan, the company has previously sold similar cute coffee cups that attract cat and coffee lovers alike.
The latest Starbucks cat-paw mug retails for 199 yuan (around US$40). Starbucks said there will be more pieces to be sold through online shops like Taobao in the coming days to accommodate even customers outside China who want a cat-inspired mug from the global coffee shop. -- MetroPets
Mookkie, the pet feeder powered by artificial-intelligence, is probably among, if not the most revolutionary pet food dispenser in the market today, which is proven when it bagged a CES 2019 Innovation Awards.
This pet food dispenser can identify a pet using its camera and dispense the right food for it. Mookkie is ideal for multi-pet households where food bowls left out in the open could lead to dogs and cats eating food that are not for them.
Mookkie visually recognizes the associated pet and opens the flap to feed exclusively him or her. Associated to one pet also with a personalized style, Mookkie bans domestic “food thieves” so a pet can only eat the right amount and quality of daily food. Its closure keeps the food fresh and keeps bugs, flies insects away. The base of Mookkie features an anti-ant system.
Volta Artificial Intelligence powers the visual recognition system of Mookkie. A front-facing camera sees the approaching animals. The images from the camera are processed through a deep neural network that establishes if the approaching animal is the pet associated to Mookkie. The flap over the bowl gets opened only when the paired pet is nearby Mookkie. The technology of the bowl is patent pending but the design is registered.
Mookkie's ergonomic food bowl is removable, easy to grab, and self-centering during re-positioning thanks to a magnetic mechanism. The food is guided by gravity to the center of the bowl.
Mookkie's A.I. is always aware of the status of the food. This feature makes possible to send notifications and short video clips to the owner. At night a very soft and gradual IR light allows it to be seen
The Mookkie's color can be personalized and labeled with pet’s name. – MetroPets
New Year’s Eve is a time of joy and celebration for most people, but with all the thundering noise from firecrackers and fireworks, it is definitely one of the scariest time in the life of pets.
Ford in Europe, thought of a solution to help dogs: a noise-cancelling kennel that will give refuge and solace to pets, especially dogs whose ears are highly sensitive to sounds.
Ford already has a prototype and it looks like a very modern triangular hut with bedding materials and lighting, too. The market's response was one of excitement and impatience as pet owners wish they could already purchase one to protect their pets from the coming New Year's Eve revelry.
The noise-cancelling feature of the kennel uses similar technology to that found in cars and headphones to protect sensitive canine ears. The special "quiet" kennel can be placed in the middle of the room as it has good aesthetic values, which means the dogs can still be close to its family during the celebration but without having to shake uncontrollably out of fear from all the noise.
Here's how it works: once microphones inside the prototype kennel detect the sound of the fireworks, a built-in audio system emits opposing frequencies that in effect cancels out the noise completely – or at least reduces it significantly. High-density cork, ideal for sound proofing was an integral part of the design.
The idea was inspired by the noise-cancelling technology that we have introduced to the Edge SUV, that helps to ensure quieter journeys for drivers and passengers. When microphones pick up high levels of noise from the engine or transmission, this is counteracted using opposing sound waves from the car’s audio system.
The result? No more stress for your pet. A concept for now, but with the potential to mean a much better start to the year, both for your dog – and for you.
Unfortunately, Ford's noise-cancelling kennel is still a prototype. Until it becomes commercially available, pet owners must find a place where pets can feel safe from all the noise that will usher in 2019.
By ALMA J. BUELVA
EVERYDAY, 65-year-old Thomas Francisco, Sr. works in the streets of Metro Manila looking for recyclable materials in the trash to eke out a living.
His gaunt face, thin body and sun-burned skin reveal how hard his life has been. It was already dusk that day we saw “Manong Thomas” near West Avenue in Quezon City pushing his big, bright blue cart with the help of five dogs. He has seven Aspins (Asong Pinoy).
Three dogs were loosely tethered on the left side of the cart led by Brownie, Tsoytsoy (a small dog that looks like a beagle) and Whitey. Two other dogs, Tagpi (black-and-white fur) and Pacman (brown), push the cart from the right side. They are like sled dogs, only they are helping drive not a sleigh, but a cart full of junk.
A sad-looking dog named Blackie stands inside the cart because he is sick, Manong Thomas said. His seventh “little helper” is Wawa, a puppy that is too small to work yet and is a bit malnourished. Manong Thomas lamented that Wawa's growth has been slow.
The old man told MetroPets that he has no place to leave his dogs behind so he takes them with him when he works as “mangangalakal”, which is someone who looks for recyclable materials like plastic, metal, rubber and paper to sell. He was vague when asked where they live. In Novaliches, he said, but wouldn't elaborate.
Except for Blackie and Wawa, the rest of the dogs look okay, if not a bit tired. Asked if he also likes cats, Manong Thomas sweetly smiled: “Meron dyan sa loob, nagtatago” (There are some [cats] inside, hiding).
While we briefly talked to Manong Thomas, his dogs took the time to rest, pee and even play with whatever they could find on the ground. None of them barked, but good-naturedly wagged their tails and waited while the humans talked to each other. They also would gingerly smell passers-by who got close.
The top deck of the cart is decorated with plastic flowers for Mang Thomas' altar of religious icons like that of the Virgin Mary and the Black Nazarene. All around his cart he wrote not only his full name but also the words GOD and DOG. He found this simple play on words amusing.
As it was Christmastime, night was creeping fast and Mang Thomas and his motley crew must be on their way home. He said he will park for the night at a relative's house nearby. Tomorrow, they will start early looking for other people's junk which will give him money to take care of himself and his dogs.
Like a shepherd that watches his flock, the old man gently coaxed his dogs to get going again. Pacman, Brownie, Tsoytsoy, Tagpi and Whitey dutifully took their positions and, like Santa's reindeer, gracefully pulled their cart onwards. -- MetroPets
A DOG TRADER named Rolando Bernardino was charged guilty of violating Republic Act (RA) 8485 as amended by RA 10631 known as the Animal Welfare Law and will be jailed for two years as a result.
Brought to court by the Animal Kingdom Foundation (AKF), Bernardino was found to have slaughter-bound dogs in his house when it was raided by authorities. Three dogs were also rescued during the raid.
AKF said it was a long-drawn battle but with determination a guilty verdict was achieved.
"Let this be known to anyone who treats a dog badly especially those who slaughter one, we will dedicate our time to see you get locked up. That is a promise.
"Please stay with us, fellow advocates. Help us give justice to our voiceless furry-friends! We need your help," AKF said in a statement. -- MetroPets
By ALMA J. BUELVA
NO self-respecting cat lover should pass a chance to visit a cat village even when a typhoon is about to hit it. Taiwan has one up north in Houtong reputed to have at least 200 free-roaming cats. The day I came for a visit, typhoon Maria had the same plan.
It was a gloomy afternoon when I reached Houtong by train along with other tourists, just as typhoon Maria started to hit the northern parts of Taiwan. But though the skies looked dark and pregnant with rain, Maria thankfully didn't rain on my parade until I finished a quick tour of the cat village.
Maybe it was the impending rain and blustering winds that caused most of Houtong's cats to hide away that afternoon. It was unfortunate that only a handful of them were around to amuse travel-weary guests.
The Houtong train station wastes no time and space in shepherding tourists to the tiny cat village. A stairway immediately connects the station to a bridge – almost like a short tunnel adorned with cat items that opens to the cat village. There we were greeted by our first two Houtong cat residents, a black-and-white kitty and a grey tabby that walked a short distance with us.
Despite the poor attendance of actual cats that day, the place will still excite cat lovers given the number of cat objects around the village. From street signs and memo boards to flower pots and stepping stones, just about anything that can follow the cat theme has been done so.
The Houtong Cat Village is a very tiny community, which is all that is left from what used to be a busy mining town. From the bridge, guests can walk up the Cat Corridor where cat-inspired shops and cafes are located. Here we found a few more feline wanderers who, like us, were peering into the glass doors and windows of shops that closed early due to typhoon Maria.
It must be delightful to shop and dine right at the Cat Corridor, if only the weather was less unforgiving the day we came.
Below the Cat Corridor is a narrow lane where people actually live, which means more cats to see. Although people there are used to tourists walking up and down their streets, it still felt like we were trespassing so I veered away from the area.
At the ground floor of the train station is another street with gift shops. Here I found a bakeshop selling pineapple cakes in cat forms. Pineapple-filled cakes are one of Taiwan's popular souvenirs. I wasn't convinced that I want some until I found them in the shape of cats!
Most of the cats, if not all, in Houtong Cat Village are strays but residents and volunteers attend to their basic needs. I've spotted cats with one of their ears clipped which means they have been spayed or neutered already, and I've also accidentally walked in on pairs while they are mating.
As in any big cat colonies, the Houtong Cat Village has cats that look sickly or with skin ulcers. As for behavior, the prevailing cat attitude the day I visited was indifference. Sure, there were sweet cats who followed tourists with cat food to give, but many were aloof and stubbornly refused eye contact. In fact, meowing at them or saying “Here, kitty, kitty...” would get you nowhere. But we can't blame the cats for not being accommodating. You would be a sour-puss, too, if you had to put up daily with cellphone-toting tourists who take your photos all the time. To get the cats' attention, one must be creative so I barked.
Seeing that the cats were not in the mood to play good hosts that day, we went back to the station to wait for our train to Taipei. It was then that typhoon Maria brought cat visibility down to zero, for the time being.
Overall, Taiwan's Houtong Cat Village is quaint and charming but is starting to look tired and lonely, too. But I'm sure you can overlook what qualifies as eyesores here and there if you are truly fond of cats. After all, with allegedly over 200 cats, Houtong is like no other purridise.
** Text and photos are all original properties of MetroPets Magazine and protected by copyright laws. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly not allowed.
* LTFRB says pets can now ride public transport