Two of 18 purebred cats rescued recently at NAIA, stolen at PAWS custody

Robbers have stolen two purebred cats in the shelter of the Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) in Quezon City last Sunday, Oct. 11, only a day after they were transferred from the cargo area of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

The stolen cats--a grey British Shorthair and a light brown Scottish Fold--were among the 26 animals abandoned and transferred to the custody of PAWS.

The animal welfare group said the robbery took place between 2:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. last Sunday.

Two robbers have been captured on its CCTV surveillance cameras entering the wire fence of the shelter compound before proceeding to the padlocked cattery where the purebred cats were kept.

PAWS is calling on the public to provide any information that may lead to the recovery of the stolen cats.

Last Oct. 10, PAWS has arranged the transfer of 26 animals--18 cats, five cats, and three dogs--that were "trapped" at the NAIA warehouse. It estimated that the animals arrived in the country between Sept. 1 and Sept. 29.

Many of the animals were found covered in their own feces and urine and had matted fur and skin sores, "due to the importers' negligence and failure to comply with the Bureau of Animal Industry Administrative Order No. 9, which protects the country from the entry of animal-borne diseases," PAWS pointed out.

"These cats were already in the initial stages of treatment when they were stolen," PAWS shelter veterinarian Eizel Ladores said in a social media post.

"We appeal to those who may have unknowingly bought these stolen cats to please present any newly-purchased pets that match the above descriptions to PAWS. They are microchipped and can easily be identified, but more importantly, we need to continue the treatment of the illnesses they acquired from the stress of importation," she added.

PAWS executive director Anna Cabrera described the stealing as "a most despicable act."

"We cannot help but feel that this crime has been planned by those who stand to profit from these animals the most," Cabrera added.

She also pointed out that the incident does not prevent PAWS from filing criminal cases against the animal importers for violating the Animal Welfare Act.

"We will file charges. It takes callousness of a certain level to be looking at importation of purebred animals for the purpose of selling them in the midst of a pandemic," Cabrera said.

The trade of purebred animals is driven by high profit margins, with the price of a purebred animal reaching as high as P100,000, PAWS noted.

"When pets are treated as merchandise, their welfare is only a secondary consideration to the profit. Most cost-cutting importers would have no qualms about keeping trapped animals in the noisy cargo areas and doing the bare minimum--such as bringing food and water and occasional cleaning--for the animals to survive," Cabrera said.

She also pointed out that importers of the animals under PAWS custody are now "panicking," because the animal welfare organization has declared that the animals will be neutered or spayed, in line with international shelter guidelines.

"These animals are only valuable to them because of their ability to give them more puppies or kittens to sell," she added.

PAWS reiterated its appeal to the public to stop buying animals but instead adopt from accredited animal shelters and city pounds.