Raising Local Dog Meat Trade Awareness in Philippines

By Greg Salido Quimpo, Animal Welfare Advocate

“Don’t harm your pets or else Sir will be upset!”, an elder sternly warns a number of pleasantly surprised folks when they see the police visiting their community and giving away food for their pets.

The police had a laugh when I pointed out that the community were at first shocked at the sight of them them arriving and inquiring about their pets, but then were smiling delightedly when they saw us giving food for their pets.

When Notodogmeat and The Philippine Animal Welfare Project (PAWPh) combined forces to spread awareness regarding animal welfare in the community, it was not only decided that the official lectures be carried out at every police station, it was also felt to be important, that school children and the folks in the community be allowed to experience the caring side of the police for the animals.

The beneficiary of this first ever community-relations activity was a bustling province in the South Western region of the Philippines called the Visayas Islands, a territory of Filipinos that is not known for dog eating, but just like every other part of this nation of more than seven thousand islands, random cases of dog slaughtering and eating do happen here, too.

Dog meat trading is heavily practiced in the central and Northern parts of Luzon. These could be cases of village folks venturing into selling dogs to roadside eateries or a bigger group of organized suppliers delivering dogs to restaurants, or simply a case of the village idiot slaughtering a dog for a group of beer drinkers.

The Visayas and Mindanao regions are not known to be dog-eaters but migrants or travelling salesmen from parts of the aforementioned Luzon; either they sell tobacco or have married a Southerner, bringing with them their appetite for dogs and willing to pay to eat dogs. Accommodating in-laws and cousins can also be very eager to show hospitality especially for special occasions.

When dog meat is prepared in various types of dishes – whole dog skewered and roasted, grilled skin, chopped to bits and dabbled with vinegar and garnishes ala sashimi, pan-seared, spiced and cooked in soy sauce dog meat, dog stew with the head as the main ingredient and many more – it is safe to say that a small minority of Filipino dog eaters regard the animal as a livestock that can be equally consumed daily, either as part of a meal or beer accompaniment.

For the most part, the organized groups involved in the dog meat trade have downsized their illegal operations, but still it cannot be said that dog meat eating in the Philippines has been eradicated. It is even felt that the dog meat trade would go back in full operation if the NGOs do not sustain their vigilance.

The Strategy

With these concerns in mind, Notodogmeat and PAWPh, partnered to continue the discussion on animal welfare at a grassroots level.

Armed with a PNP provincial-wide memorandum, Notodogmeat conducts lectures on animal welfare law in every police station. The objective is to continue the discussion regarding the regulations on animal welfare and its enforcement. This activity has empowered the enforcement authorities and has resulted to a number of animals being confiscated and turned over to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

Community relations activities, an essential part of the project, sees the PNP and the Notodogmeat team giving out pet food and other foodstuffs to families with small talks on animal welfare to instill the idea that the police cares and will protect the animals.

Reception of the community has been a mixture of surprise and bewilderment considering that the police do not normally ask about their dogs, but once the realization sets in that the police are giving away food for their pets, it becomes a fun and worthy activity. Undeniably, the project builds a pleasant relationship between the police and the community which can only benefit the animals.

We will keep on planting the seed of knowledge and goodwill, despite the challenges, because in the campaign of animal welfare, no action is too small.

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