NEWS & FEATURES
Have you heard the woofest mews?
Have you heard the woofest mews?
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.
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.”
* Report sees pets as cure against loneliness crisis