Friday, October 8, 2010

Gassing of Dogs

It is disturbing to see how some local government units in the Philippines address the issue of street order by summary executing stray dogs via the tambucho or gassing method.

For the benefit of non-Filipinos, tambucho is a colloquial term for car exhausts, which sadly, are used currently for gassing the poor man’s best friend.

In Kidapawan City, Cagayan de Oro City and Misamis Oriental in Southern Philippines*, the local government units created groups to specifically oversee the clearing of streets through caging of stray dogs and keeping them in 5 days until owners claim for them. If no owners show up, the poor dogs (usually in batch of 8) are to be placed in an enclosed steel compartment; a tambucho will be inserted to it, run the car engine and suffocate them. It will take 7 to 8 minutes to finish the business*.

For some cash-strapped local government units, this is the most cost-effective way to meet their objective - that is to make sure that streets are clean and orderly.

But far more than addressing the issue and providing a solution (for the sake of "taking action"), it is a question of the means rather than the end. Budget has always been a concern. But is it the case? Or are our local government units just lazy to think through and come up with a long-term solution for this issue – as they have always been for a number of issues that beset our country?

Dogs are not humans, but they deserve to be treated well. They may seem to clutter our streets, but clearing up this mess can be done in a number of creative ways.

Marikina’s APCO **

Marikina City created the Animal Protection and Council Office (APCO) to look after stray dogs and keep them off streets by penalizing their owners thru fines and community service.

If a dog is gone astray, APCO will take the owner into account. If a dog causes damage to another person’s property, the owner will answer for it. If a dog is found to have a communicable disease, APCO will confiscate it. APCO also prohibits the slaughter of dogs, sale and transport of dog meat in the city.

Marikina City and APCO show how the issue of street order via eradication of stray dogs can be tackled positively and creatively. By making the dog owners accountable for the safekeeping of their pets, APCO is able to meet its objective while the community shares the responsibility, which should be the case. It may seem to be more complicated (for the sluggish), but it proves to be a win-win situation in the long run.

This also reminds us to care for others-be it an animal or a human being.

*  Data are from Mindanao Examiner
** Data are from Marikina APCO

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