NEWS & FEATURES
Have you heard the woofest mews?
Have you heard the woofest mews?
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
DOGS in the country, especially the native Aspins, have reason to be hopeful this year as government agencies and partner institutions fighting the illegal trading of dog meat are hoping to have the national plan of action finalized early this year.
Launched last September, the National Plan of Action (NAPOA) to Eliminate the Trade of Dogs for Meat aims for a complete end to the nefarious dog meat trading which not only victimizes dogs but also endangers public health.
One of its immediate impacts would be on the apprehending and filing of cases against violators. The penalties will be based on the provision of the Animal Welfare Law which include a fine of up to P250,000 and six years imprisonment.
Armelo Mauro, training officer at the Animal Health and Welfare Division of the Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Animal Industry, told MetroPets that that plan's Implementing Rules and Regulations are now at the committee level for finalization.
He said, they have statistics that show a decline in dog meat trading around the country last year, thanks mainly to the efforts of NGOs who are at the forefront of the campaign against hot meat.
Mauro said they are also proactively informing the public about the dangers of eating hot meat from dogs, cats, deer and wild boar because these likely carry deadly bacteria and other contaminants.
Meanwhile, Mauro advises concerned citizens to photograph or film those who slaughter dogs and report them to the police and file an affidavit at the prosecution office.
THE Pet Expo 2015 organized by Pet Express during the first weekend of August successfully gathered hundreds of pet owners, dog and cat lovers, animal groups plus makers and sellers of pet products under one roof. Held at one of the halls inside the SMX in Mall of Asia, the show is proof of the tremendous growth the pet industry in the Philippines is experiencing right now.
The show was a good venue for pet companies to interact closer with pet owners. Lots of products from pet foods to toys and accessories were sold up to 20 percent off.
Engaging activities for pets and their owners were also held in partnership with some of the leading pet food companies. There was also a dog yoga session, bomb sniffing demonstrations and even a presentation of a beach resort and hotel of their unique accommodations for pets.
Here are some of the first day photos from the show.
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.
* Laika and Felicette, pioneer pet astronauts