It has been said that pets have benefits on human health. According to the United States’ National Institutes of Health (NIH), pets may decrease stress and improve heart health. There has also been a notable increase in pet ownership in the past few years, which was seen as a way to cope with isolation during the pandemic.
In fact, Filipinos have shown great interest in owning pets. According to E-commerce company i-Price Group, the number of pet searches on Google by those in Southeast Asia has reached to 12.9 million for the first nine months of 2021. This is an 88 percent increase compared to 2019 data for the same period.
Filipinos topped the list, reaching nearly seven million pet searches on Google.
But before we decide on buying or more preferably adopting a pet, we should think first of the responsibility involved in caring for animals.
Five freedoms of animals under human care
There are actually “five freedoms” of animals under human control which have been developed in 1965 and is widely recognized by various organizations including the World Organization for Animal Health. These are: freedom from hunger, malnutrition, and thirst; freedom from fear and distress; freedom from heat stress or physical discomfort; freedom from pain, injury, and disease; and freedom to express normal patterns of behavior.
In the Philippines, we have the Animal Welfare Act, which was first enacted in 1998 and was amended in 2013. The law mandates the protection and promotion of animal welfare, which pertains to the physical and psychological well-being of animals. The five basic freedoms of animals have been incorporated in the law.
Despite such legislation, there are still a lot of animal abuses—family pets being abandoned, stray animals being starved, dehydrated, or shot dead in pounds, and owners maltreating their pets.
According to the Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), about 12 million stray cats and dogs roamed the country in 2019. It’s no wonder cats or dogs involved in road accidents have been a common sight.
Organizations such as PAWS, Animal Kingdom Foundation (AKF), Compassion and Responsibility for Animals (CARA), among others, are actively promoting the humane treatment of all animals. They also have programs to help stray animals, promote adoption among existing and prospective pet owners, and encourage spaying and neutering.
Spaying and neutering protect animals
Spaying or neutering are encouraged by animal welfare organizations as ways to help curb the overpopulation of unwanted animals. These also help treat or avoid certain diseases, allowing animals to live longer.
According to the Philippine Pet Birth Control Center Foundation (PPBCC), whose main advocacy is to eradicate rabies through cat and dog population control, a pair of cats can produce about 400,000 kittens in just seven years. This is why they are advocating for efficient, effective, and humane ways of controlling the stray cat population. The PPBCC is also collaborating with different barangays to conduct spay/neuter projects for both cats and dogs.
Not everyone are animal lovers, but all of us can show respect and humane treatment to animals. Animal welfare and protection take a whole of community approach. For instance, in times of disasters, animals are often neglected. In some communities, killing dogs to eat and sell their meat still exists.
We cannot leave it to animal welfare organizations to do the work alone. Communities have to be involved too. Authorities should likewise strictly enforce the Animal Welfare Act. Those who witness animal abuses are also encouraged to report such incidents to authorities to help put a stop to animal maltreatment.
Moreover, fur-parents should come together and make their voices, as well as their pet’s voices, heard by promoting responsible pet ownership and helping educate communities on the rights of animals.