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Lawmakers urge 'population control' for stray animals to prevent health hazards

By John Patrick Magno Ranara Published May 16, 2024 5:07 pm

Sen. Cynthia Villar has floated the idea of implementing a "population control" for stray animals in the Philippines in order to curb health hazards they pose to the public.

During a hearing of the Senate committee on agriculture regarding the country’s animal welfare law, Villar suggested it would be beneficial to control the population of dogs and cats, particularly in impoverished areas, to prevent the "spread of diseases such as rabies, leptospirosis, and other parasites."

"Ang problema natin, marami tayong mahihirap and then nangangak nang marami 'yung kanilang mga dogs and cats," Villar said, adding that cats can give birth to 12 kittens a year while dogs can deliver about four puppies.

"Kapag mahirap at nanganak 'yung cat nila ng 12 at yung dog nila ng four, ano naman papakain nila doon? So they become stray dogs and they're all around," Villar reasoned.

"'Yung mga bata naman, kapag kinagat ng stray dog, hindi sinasabi sa parents kasi natatakot, papagalitan sila. But you know that if they don't tell their parents, hindi sila maaanti-rabies, mamamatay sila. So that's our problem," she added.

Because of this issue, the senator shared that they have started free spaying and neutering services in the cities of Las Piñas and Bacoor.

In her remarks, Sen. Grace Poe similarly highlighted the importance of resolving the rise in stray animal population as it has led to several negative repercussions.

"Many animals are neglected, deliberately abandoned, starved to death in animal pounds, or fall victim to animal cruelty," Poe said.

"Some irresponsible pet owners have permitted their unvaccinated pets to cause nuisance, fear, or harm to their communities," she continued.

Citing a January report from the Mars Petcare Pet Homelessness Project, Poe said that there are a total of 13.11 million stray cats and dogs in the Philippines today.

"Because strays lack proper care or vaccinations, rabies is most common in countries where stray dogs are present in large numbers," she said, adding that the Philippines is ranked sixth among countries with the highest rabies incidence in the world.

The senator then cited an incident where a 13-year-old girl from Tondo died due to a bite from a stray dog that she kept a secret from her parents for several months.

Poe is now pushing for the formation of a proper bureau that focuses on addressing animal welfare issues through Senate Bill No. 2458.

"It would firmly establish standards geared towards engendering responsible pet ownership as well as ethical behavior and accountability from all those who have control over or provide care for animals. As such, the bill has more stringent penalties for violations of the act," she detailed.