BAGUIO

Dog microchipping in Baguio City suspended

MANDATORY dog microchipping in Baguio City has been suspended until a win-win solution is crafted.

Councilor Joel Alangsab, who authored the mandatory dog registration and microchipping, said the measure is now under study after petitioners opposed to the new law went public and aired concerns on the issue.

Alangsab said the city ordinance will be studied by Councilor Betty Lourdes Tabanda, who chairs the Committee on Laws.

"We have decided to defer this as well as penalties until the Internal Rules and Regulations [IRR] are crafted, but there is nothing preventing those who want their dogs to undergo microchipping, they are free to do so," Alangsab said.

The alderman also proposed to have another round of consultation to hear sentiments of dog owners and the petitioners as he finds arguments of city veterinarian Brigit Piok reasonable.

During Monday's session, August 24, the City Council moved to suspend the implementation of mandatory dog microchipping while awaiting IRR of Ordinance 60-2020 to be crafted by the City Veterinary and Agriculture Office (CVAO).

During the this week's regular session, lawyer and petitioner against the mandatory law, Duchess Anselmo, questioned the mandatory microchipping as a requisite for a dog's registration with the CVAO, saying the Anti-Rabies Act of 2007 or Republic Act 9482, which the local ordinance hinges on, only stipulates mandatory registration but not mandatory microchipping.

Anselmo also disputed the claim the microchip may help in tracking a stray or wandering dog. She said a microchip does not function as a GPS device where you can trace the pet's location when lost.

Anselmo further stressed the microchip serves no other purpose than merely for record keeping. Section 19 of the ordinance explains microchip will be encoded with basic and vital information about the dog and its owner as well as the dog's vaccination history. Thus, what the city needs is a well-functioning centralized database for the purpose, she reasoned.

The online petition, which has generated a snowball of support, said registration and mandatory microchipping of dogs pose health risk to pets, fearing small breeds and young pups may have adverse reactions to microchipping, as well as citing the law as a violation of the owner's right to decide on what is best for their pets.

Tedy Escorpizo and Sergi Musni, both dog owners, likewise dished out several reasons why they oppose the city's move to implement it saying the it is in "violation of the owner's right to decide on what is best for their pets."

Citing a number of studies on microchipping on animals, Escorpizo and Musni underscored a few health risks of microchip implantation on pets such as hair loss, infection, migration, swelling, and tumor among others.

Piok, head of CVAO, said only dogs weighing at least three kilograms and reaching the age of three months and above will be microchipped while sick and old dogs will be spared.

The CVAO chief also clarified dog owners are given the option whether the microchip will be implanted under the dog's skin or placed on its collar.

Petitioners further slammed the edict as "anti-poor" for its registration worth P300, the P250 fee in case the dog has already been implanted with a microchip by another provider, and P250 fee in the case of transfer of ownership to be charged to the new owner.

"Instead of charging a registration, probably incentivize and encourage registration by providing discounts on vaccination, spay and neuter, and trainings/seminars on responsible dog ownership," the petitioners wrote in their position paper dated August 22.

The petitioners also debated against the other provisions of the ordinance.

All matters discussed, as well as the petition papers were referred to the CVAO to guide the office in the formulation of the IRR. (With a report from Jordan Habbiling/Baguio City Council Public Information Office)


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