Tibaldo: What the law says about pets and animal welfare


THERE is a law enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the Philippines in Congress that promotes animal welfare known as Republic Act No. 8485 or the Animal Welfare Act of 1998.

The primary purpose of this Act is to protect and promote the welfare of all animals in the Philippines by supervising end regulating the establishment and operations of all facilities utilized for breeding, maintaining, keeping, treating or training of all animals either as objects of trade or as household pets including birds.

No public utility shall transport any such animals without a written permit from the Director of the Bureau of Animal Industry or authorized representative. Also, there should be no cruel confinement or restraint on such animals while being transported. Any form, of cruelty shall be penalized even if the transporter has obtained a permit from the Director of the Bureau of Animal Industry. Cruelty in transporting includes overcrowding, placing of animals in the trunks or under the hood trunks of vehicles.

The killing of any animal other than cattle, pigs, goats, sheep, poultry, rabbits, carabao, horse, deer and crocodiles is unlawful according to the law except when it is done as part of the religious rituals of an established religion or ritual required by ethnic custom of indigenous cultural communities.

When the pet animal is afflicted with an incurable communicable disease as determined and certified by a duly licensed veterinarians and when the killing is deemed necessary to put an end to the misery suffered by the animal as determined and certified by a duly licensed veterinarian, the restriction may be effected. Other exemptions to said law is applied when it is done to prevent an imminent danger to the life or limb of a human being, when done for the purpose of animal population control, when animal is killed after it has been used in authorized research or experiments determined and certified by a licensed veterinarian. In all the above mentioned cases, including those of cattle, pigs, goats, sheep, poultry, rabbits, carabao, deer and crocodiles, the killing of the animals shall be done through humane procedures at all times.

For this purpose, humane procedures shall mean use of the most scientific methods available as may be determined and approved by the tasked committee composed of representatives from government and private organizations. Said committee shall be composed of the official representatives of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Education, Culture and Sports, DA-Bureau of Animal Industry, DENR- Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau, DA- National Meat Inspection Commission , DA-Agriculture Training Institute, Philippine Veterinary Medical Association, Veterinary Practitioners Association of the Philippines, Philippine Animal Hospital Association and private organizations such as the Philippine Animal Welfare Society or PAWS.

Also, the Act states that under Section 7, it shall be the duty of every person to protect the natural habitat of the wildlife and destruction of same shall be considered as a form of cruelty to animals and its preservation is a way of protecting the animals. Further, any person who violate, any of the provisions of this Act shall, upon conviction by final judgment, be punished by imprisonment of not less than six (6) months nor more than two (2) years or a fine of not less than One thousand pesos (P1,000) nor more than Five thousand pesos (P5,000) or both at the discretion of the court. If the violation is committed by a juridical person, the officer responsible therefore shall serve the imprisonment when imposed. If violation is committed by an alien, he or she shall be immediately deported after serviced sentence without any further proceedings.

During the recent film festival, controversy arose about part of a film entry that had a scene showing animal cruelty and slaughtering and possibly eating of a dog which accordingly generated negative feedback prompting organizers to consider pulling out and withdrawing its award. As a result, some mediation and legal consultations were made to resolve the issue.

What seems to be clear here is that the organizers of the film fest have no legal competence to decide on the matter and they only acted on "good faith". Unless it is a documentary, I suppose artistic license may not apply to something that is too sensitive like involving a dog to be sacrificed. Not everyone may agree that dogs are man’s best friend but we must understand that there are certain groups who care for these animals and besides, it is already in our judicial system.
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