Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Allowing pets to stray for 
food now animal cruelty 

TAGBILARAN CITY, September 8 (PIA)--Neglecting to provide pet animals adequate care, sustenance or shelter can already constitute animal cruelty and is punishable by imprisonment and penalties, which can even be harsher if the offender is a public official of employee. 

This surfaced as the Bohol Rabies Prevention And Elimination Program (BRPEP) officials find then and again that un cared for and neglected dogs end up as strays and feral dogs.

While these stray dogs pose a real danger to the goal of making Bohol rabies-free, it also projects nothing of the place which is supposedly sold as friendly to tourists. 

Speaking at the Kapihan sa PIA, BRPEP action officer, veterinarian Dr. Stella Marie Lapiz implied that even with the massive anti rabies vaccination program implemented province-wide, stray and feral dogs would still be a threat to the immunized herd. 

Coming to the weekly radio forum aired over DyTR, Dr. Lapiz who also sits as canine rabies key officer, Polizena Rances, human rabies key officer and Interior and Local Government officer Mae Ann Verga, all see that rabies threat is still among the top health and public issue in Bohol especially with tourism identified as an economic driver. 

Section 6 of the amended animal welfare act or Republic Act 10631 says it shall be unlawful for any person to torture any animal, to neglect to provide adequate care...

Section 7 of the same amended law says it is unlawful for any person who has custody to an animal to abandon it. 

If any person, being the owner shall without reasonable cause abandon it, whether permanently or not, without providing for the care of the animal, shall constitute maltreatment, it continues. . 

Coming in as the province prepares for the World Rabies Day, September 28, the guests of the talk show which is also aired on facebook live, brings in good news: the government is bankrolling on the cost of anti rabies vaccines. 

But the inoculation can only be had when the pet-owners bring their dogs to the Office of the Provincial Veterinarian, City Veterinarian or the Municipal Agriculture Office where trained personnel can handle the vaccinations. 

This too as the BRPEP struggled through its ups and lows since it started in 2007, when Bohol decided to pioneer an LGU led program on antirabies. 

Already a national awardee for innovation through the Gawad Galing Pook on Rabies, getting the island declared as rabies free however, remains to be an elusive dream, declared Dr. Lapiz. 

The culprits? Stray dogs. 

Totally beyond the control of communities, stray dogs that on thrive on leftover food in trash cans, public markets, beach resorts and other areas where people congregate and food is plenty, eat just anything. 

Beyond the problem of strays are owned dogs whose owners do not hover effective control of them. 

"There is a strong culture of people in Bohol who keep dogs as pets and yet they just allow these dogs to freely roam," anti-rabies observers noted.

The top vet in Bohol advised, "before owning a pet, one should always consider if one has the capacity (time, financially, emotionally) to care for it responsibly for its entire lifetime, not just when it is a cute puppy." 

If one cannot guarantee to assume and provide all responsibilities of pet ownership for the entire life of the pet, it is more responsible not to acquire or bring home a pet into the home in the first place, explains Dr Lapiz at the forum.

A knowledgeable and responsible owner knows that he should provide adequate food and water, proper shelter in a secure comfortable environment, not exposed to the heat or rain, and medical care like updated vaccinations especially for anti rabies, gets at least an annual check-up, and will bring his pet to a vet if sick or injured, explains Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS). 

In fact, PWS also said a responsible owner will ensure cleanliness of his home, clean up pet mess to avoid foul smell. 

Failing to do this, a pet owner can be sued for animal cruelty, the vet hinted, also meaning that Bohol rabies prevention can be made easier with responsible pet ownership. (rac/PIA-7/Bohol)

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