Editorial: Net love for animals-A A +A
Sunday, October 7, 2012
PETS and their humans provided some lift last Oct. 4, the feast of St. Francis of Assisi.
For Catholics, the traditional blessing of pets takes place on this day. The feast day of the Catholic Church’s patron saint of animals and the environment is also popular for animal activists and groups to remind the public how love for one’s pets should extend to cover respect for the rights and life of animals.
While Filipinos sustain cultural practices that include eating dogs, slowly beating a chicken till it’s death and eating this as a delicacy, or betting on gamecocks that are bred to slash and fight to the death, many Filipinos, too, abhor cruelty to animals.
More importantly, more and more are acting to stop these abuses.
Technology and the Internet have enabled many citizens to document and upload photos and videos showing random or organized acts of animal abuse, which have alerted activists and authorities.
Last April 2012, a photo of a Boljoon resident riding a “tuki,” the local name for a whale shark or “butanding,”sparked outrage on Facebook.
Netizens denounced the maltreatment and called for education to enlighten those who harm animals out of ignorance. One Netizen sent a message to the Good Earth, the Sun.Star website’s environment section at blogs.sunstar.com.ph/goodearth, to urge for government intervention.
According to Rizel S. Adlawan’s April 3, 2012 article in Sun.Star Cebu and Sun.Star News Online, Gov. Gwen Garcia asked Boljoon Mayor Ronald Guaren to report on the incident involving the whale shark that was accidentally trapped in a fish net, brought nearshore and later released.
The Internet has also been used to help animals rescued, rehabilitated and adopted.
Laguna pitbull rescued from a ring that bred them for dogfights are being rehabilitated through the help of donations and volunteers mobilized through networking and websites like that of the Compassion and Responsibility for Animals (Cara) Welfare Philippines.
Through www.caraphil.org and the Save the Laguna pitbull page on Facebook, animal welfare advocates and groups help match the rescued Laguna pitbulls and other abandoned and neglected animals with responsible and caring humans who can adopt them and provide them with homes.
Speaking up for those who can’t
The mainstream or traditional media has improved its coverage of animal welfare and rights since the days when coverage of pets was limited to purebreds being paraded in dog shows.
Local media’s coverage of visitors drawn to the whale sharks in Oslob probes beyond the eco-tourism potential for coastal villagers and the municipality. News coverage on the adverse effects of fishermen’s practice of feeding whale sharks; violations of tourists of safety precautions in viewing that raise the risks for the animals and humans; and the injuries of animals wounded in fish pens and by propellers in their search for food have not just alerted local governments and agencies but also the public to focus on the implications of co-existence between humans and animals.
Complementing mainstream media is the online media, which is more accessible and flexible to Netizens who desire to move beyond education and target advocacy and mobilization.
One such online campaign was started on www.change.org to gather support for House Bill (HB) 5849, which will amend the Animal Welfare Act of the Philippines, also known as Republic Act 8485.
Filed by Rep. Bernadette Herrera-Dy of the Bagong Henerasyon Party-List, HB 5859 seeks to increase penalties for those convicted of animal cruelty. It also seeks to ban convicted animal offenders from owning pets, as well as proposes that accredited animal welfare nongovernment organizations will help government monitor reports of animal cruelty and neglect, as well as gather evidence for the prosecution of offenders.
On the Internet, one doesn’t have to wait for the feast day of St. Francis to act for the welfare of animals.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 08, 2012.