PHILIPPINES DISPATCH: “Demand for dog meat is still prevalent, and constant discussion is needed”

Animal advocate and educator Greg Quimpo explains why the work of The Philippine Animal Welfare Project with support from NoToDogMeat is so needed…

Greg Quimpo conducting outreach educational work with police – copyright NoToDogMeat/ Greg Quimpo

The Philippines’ Animal Welfare Act of 1998 (Republic Act 8485) , purported to be the first in Asia, has outlawed the maltreatment of animals and explicitly excluded dogs as food animals in one of its provisions.  

But before RA 8485, there already exists MMC 82-02 which was enacted by the Metro Manila Council prohibiting the killing of dogs and the eating of its meat within the 16 cities of Metro Manila (

Greg Quimpo is an animal advocate and educator for the Philippine Animal Welfare Project, with the support of NoToDogMeat – image copyright NoToDogMeat/ Greg Quimpo

It is worth noting that in RA 8485 there is an exemption that says a dog can be slaughtered by an indigenous group over a ritual sanctioned by its local leaders and authorized by a government veterinarian. Section 6, Paragraph 1 of the act says:

When it is done as part of the religious rituals of an established religion or sect or a ritual required by tribal or ethnic custom of indigenous cultural communities; however, leaders shall keep records in cooperation with the Committee on Animal Welfare.

Greg Quimpo conducting schools outreach work – image copyright NoToDogMeat/ Greg Quimpo

In the northern highlands of the country, a pet dog ends up as a sacrificial offering to drive away bad luck that has befallen a family. The slaughtering and eating of the family pet, in this instance, is carried out under an ancient sacred ritual that is visibly missing in the restaurants where dog meat is sold.

As explained in an online article by Dr. Nestor Castro, cultural anthropologist of the University of the Philippines’ (UP),

“It has become a market (dog meat eating), and has really transformed from its original roots,” he said, emphasising that not all Filipinos eat dog meat and that it’s an inaccurate stereotype to say otherwise.

Greg Quimpo taking part in outreach work with the police – copyright NoToDogMeat/ Greg Quimpo

Mr. Castro added that originally dog meat was used as food for certain types of rituals and special occasions. Locals in the Cordillera Region of Northern Luzon, he noted, slaughtered dogs only for ritual occasions.

“Generally all animals there, not just limited to dogs, are sacrificial animals. Chickens, pigs, or carabaos are butchered, whether for someone who died or for a celebration. The dog goes into that picture, as a special occasion food.” He added that the offering of one’s own could be the ultimate symbol of sacrifice. “I would say, if you treat your dog as your best friend, therefore, to sacrifice your best friend must be really special.”

A predominantly Catholic country, rites to partake of the host, symbolically as that of the untainted body of Jesus Christ, is a sacred practice in the Philippine Catholic church hence, the government also provided exemption for the Filipino tribal communities in the north to practice their own cultural belief.

Greg Quimpo taking part in outreach educational work with police – copyright NoToDogMeat/ Greg Quimpo

The commercialisation of dog meat mushroomed in the main towns of Baguio City and La Trinidad during the 1980’s. The live dogs are sourced in the south of Luzon, eight hours by land, as the southerners are not known to be dog meat eaters.

Livestock traders from the Calabarzon southern provinces (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon) included dogs, aside from cattle and goats, as part of the trade in the north where high-valued vegetables and fruits are largely grown.

But, years of consistent raids against the cruel trade lead to the end of the “open season” and while there may be traders engaged in the underground selling of dog meat, the trade in the Philippines has been hugely impacted. Still, every animal welfare group in the country is in agreement that the demand is still prevalent in the central and northern islands of Luzon.

Greg and police officers at an educational event – copyright NoToDogMeat/ Greg Quimpo

While there is that lull in the dog meat trade, the subject of protecting the dogs, or animals in general, need to be consistently discussed with the pertinent authorities. Lectures and community activities that raise awareness regarding animal welfare must be consistently pursued more than ever.

The Philippine Animal Welfare Project and NoToDogMeat embraces this opportunity to further advance the welfare of the dogs by providing lectures to the Philippine National Police and partnering with them in their community relations activities.

The objective is to continue the discussion on the subject of animal welfare law and its enforcement. The activity has empowered the enforcement authority in implementing the law and has resulted in a number of animals being confiscated and turned over by the police to pertinent government bureaus.

Staging this program makes us hopeful because, after all, animal cruelty prevention might just be the cure against the dog meat trade.  

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