Editorial: Pet love-A A +A
Sunday, February 3, 2013
ANIMALS and their humans have long formed symbioses, with the latter even deriving from their pets’ companionship psychic rewards that dispel loneliness, fight depression and give meaning to existence.
Recent accidents, though, underscore that raising pets involves ownership responsibilities that promote safety and sanitation for the community, as well as animal welfare and rights.
A Parian resident recently contracted rabies from a cat that she rescued from the streets, reported the Department of Veterinary Medicines and Fisheries (DVMF).
Although this seems to be the first known cat rabies case in Cebu City, monitoring revealed that there were 12 rabies cases last year in Barangays Apas, Basak Pardo, Bulacao, Guadalupe, Hipodromo, Mabolo, Pasil, Punta Princesa, Sambag and Sudlon II.
The Parian cat rabies case renewed government calls for owners to register their dogs and cats with the DVMF for P150 and avail of anti-rabies vaccinations. Every January, Cebu City conducts a vaccination drive to push for the implementation of the Anti-Rabies Act and anti-rabies ordinance.
Yet, the enforcement of these ordinances to cover the registration and vaccination of the targeted 80 percent of the dog population in Cebu City should not only be the priority of stakeholders.
Friendly to pets and humans.
The death of a Zamboanga City school girl attacked and killed by a dog that broke free from its leash focuses attention on the need for reinforced public education on responsible pet ownership.
Last January 28, 2013, Mariane Gonzales and schoolmates were taking a short cut on their way home from school. A Belgian Malinois tied outside the gate of a house they passed escaped from its leash, attacked the students, and killed Gonzales after biting her severely on the neck and various parts.
In Marikina, resettlement residents protested the enforcement of a local ordinance that prohibits pets in settlement or resettlement sites, and confiscates these without the possibility of redemption. Responding to complaints that Ordinance No. 156 was discriminatory to the poor, officials explained that the enforcement of the law is intended to uphold people’s rights to safety, health and sanitation.
The Marikina ban on pets in settlement or resettlement sites is also said to promote animal welfare since in overcrowded households with limited means, animals may be the last priority for food, shelter and other necessities.
Aside from complaints of anti-poor bias, animal rights advocates have also attacked the Marikina City policy to destroy confiscated pets that are not redeemed or adopted within five days.
Education and advocacy
Harsh and seemingly discriminatory, ordinances and laws must balance the welfare of the public and rights of pet owners and animals.
Yet, in many cases, animal welfare advocates and the government can collaborate to strengthen the public drive to educate the public and promote responsible pet ownership. Registration and vaccination of pets, particularly dogs and cats, may significantly control and eventually eradicate the spread of animal-borne diseases.
Rabid dogs and cats contaminate other animals and humans that they bite.
The registration cost and inconvenience of bringing pets for vaccination and other check-ups are part of owners’ responsibilities to keep pets in communities where dwindling space and modern lifestyles lead to humans and animals increasingly sharing space.
When space for shelter and exercise is limited for pets, their owners should resort to spaying for female animals and neutering for male animals.
Allowing pets to breed to number beyond that which the owners can feed and care does not only endanger and cause inconvenience for other people but also deprive and neglect the animals. By managing the reproduction of pets, people can also prevent strays from roaming in streets and posing safety and sanitation concerns to pedestrians, vehicular traffic and other animals.
Intertwined with the joys and benefits animals give to their humans is the latter’s obligation to provide for their pets’ health, handling and training.
It is not only expensive pure- or mixed-breed pets that should be brought regularly to veterinarians but also mongrels or the so-called asong Pinoy or aspin and common cats. Far from being a diversion, a possession and a replacement for human babies, pets mean lifelong commitment.
Whether for humans or non-humans, love should not discriminate.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 04, 2013.