By Hilda Austria
THE twelve recorded deaths in the province due to rabies in the first quarter of this year alarmed the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) board members and prompted them to pass a resolution urging local government units (LGUs) down to the barangay officials to intensify their anti-rabies campaign.
Fear of stray dogs has been with me since I was bitten by one when I was a kid while I was walking around our neighborhood. An innocent looking, meek dog bit me right after I turned my back and “Praise God”, the dog did not have rabies. If it did and anti- rabies vaccine was not yet popular, I might have been a fatality then.
Although it did not dampen my fondness for dogs as pets, the trauma remained with me even until now, but with one difference – it taught me to be a responsible dog owner. I fully support the call of the SP members for an intensified anti-rabies campaign, hoping it will not remain as a mere resolution on a paper but with plans and strategies for strict implementation by the LGUs.
In an interview with Dr. Conrado Fernandez, Dagupan City veterinarian, he said if only the laws like the the Anti-Rabies Act of 2007 that prohibits sale of dog-meat, and directs mandatory registration and anti-rabies immunization of pet dogs, and the Animal Welfare Act for the protection of the animals especially the dogs, were strictly implemented, public would be free from this deadly virus today.
On the other hand, common sense should have told us that we should be responsible for our pets and the welfare of our fellowmen.
Here are my unsolicited advice to dog or animal owners. Firstly we should tie your dog/s or cage them especially if they are not friendly. But if you hate the idea of tying them up or placed inside cages, then make it a point to have your pets get their anti-rabies vaccine.
Secondly, we should not let our dogs stray in the streets, chasing and threatening passerby and motorists. They not only pose danger to people but also poop everywhere.
Thirdly, remember that there are animal shelters and willing individuals to take care of your dog/s so you don’t sell your dogs in the market who will likely end up being slaughtered, cooked and sold to the public. Health officials have warned about the risks of eating dog meat since it could have rabies before being slaughtered, and people can die from it.
Lastly, let us remember that we can be fined or imprisoned if we violate the laws.
I hope our local officials will do their part as “watchdogs” of illegal dog meat trade.