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DOGS’ DAY. A Dalmatian (left) and a pack of Huskies (right) join thousands of dogs of different breeds in the first “Dog Walk for a Cause” on Roxas Boulevard in Manila and in 20 provinces.

Dogs unleash protest against cruelty

Posted 06:03am (Mla time) May 09, 2005
By Marlet Salazar
Inquirer News Service

Editor's Note: Published on page A1 of the May 9, 2005 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer


THOUSANDS of dogs and their owners yesterday unleashed a protest against cruelty to canines.

The Philippine Canine Club Inc. (PCCI), a dog owners and breeders association, organized the first "Dog Walk for a Cause (Luv ko c Bantay)" to allow dog lovers to protest "the senseless cruelty and indiscriminate slaughter of dogs."

Expecting a modest 1,000-2,000 dogs to converge at the Rajah Sulayman Park in Malate, Manila, PCCI president Byron San Pedro was surprised and pleased at the record turnout of 3,075 registrants.

Another 4,000 showed up in at least 20 provinces.

In total, more than 7,000 dogs registered nationwide for the walk, the PCCI said, breaking the world record set on June 20, 2004, in England, when 5,017 canines turned up for a 4.8-km marathon. It now qualifies to enter the Guinness Book of Records.

The club claimed there was widespread cruelty to dogs in the Philippines, citing media reports of dogs kept in cramped cages and slaughtered to be

sold as meat, of stray dogs being shot to death, and others being roasted alive. 

San Pedro said the dog walk was held to raise awareness of the need for responsible pet ownership and to control the spread of rabies.

"Why do you kill us?" read a placard strapped to the back of a Dalmatian that joined the parade along a 5-km stretch of Roxas Boulevard in Manila.

A Pomeranian-Spitz, wearing a crown of red roses, and an English bulldog wearing a red scarf around its neck, were among the dogs that strutted their stuff.

"We hope to change the image of the country from a dog-eating nation to a dog-loving nation," the PCCI said in a statement.

Several canine clubs, animal welfare organizations and individual dog lovers who believe in the cause joined the event.

As early as 4 a.m., dog owners started to arrive with their pets in tow. The walk started at 7 a.m. and dog owners and dogs packed Roxas Boulevard as they marched from Rajah Sulayman Park to the Quirino Grandstand and back.

The Boy Scouts of the Philippines (BSP) served as marshals in the event. Mayet Prenda, a BSP staffer, said around 150 boy scouts helped distribute water and maintain traffic flow.

"Volunteer veterinarians from PCCI and an action team from the local city government were also on call for any emergency," San Pedro said.

Dogs 'r' us

There were 82 participants from the Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) led by president Nita Lichauco and director Anna Hashim-Cabrera.

"Hopefully, this event would show the government that we denounce the inhumane ways of controlling the dog population in the country," Cabrera said. "It's about time that the Animal Welfare Act of 1998 was strictly enforced."

Actor Mark Gil, a volunteer for PAWS, brought Amber, a Shar-Pei and Ginger, a pug. He said he hopes that one day more people would understand the passion owners have for their pets.

Luis Buenaflor of the Animal Kingdom Foundation, a UK-affiliated organization working to stop the dog meat trade, joined the walk because "we [want to] bring attention to the plight of the maltreated Philippine mongrel. It also goes with our thrust for the elimination of the dog meat trade."

But what caught everyone's attention was the group, Compassion and Responsibility for Animals (CARA), made up of foreigners and locals proudly walking their native Philippine dogs.

"We call them Pinoy dogs, not askal or street dogs," said Yasmin Jadwani, founder of CARA.

CARA seeks to promote the better treatment of animals, and the spaying and neutering of pets to help curb the proliferation of unwanted cats and dogs.

The K-9 unit of the Philippine National Police also came in full force.

Dog faints

The walk started at 7 a.m. with some of the dogs already feeling the heat. Two hours later, a Chow Chow collapsed due to heat stroke. It was immediately given first aid by Dr. Edwin Salagosta, a veterinarian from the PCCI, assisted by Dr. Dave Arceo of PAWS.

Chow Chows have a thick double coat suitable for cold weather, not a hot summer walk by the bay.

"In cases like this, you have to immediately cool them down," Salagosta said. "If possible, if the dog is conscious, submerge him in cold water or even ice."

Five other canines suffered heat stroke including a Saint Bernard and a Rottweiler.

Some of the pooches looked exhausted on the way back to the venue, the owners had no choice but to carry their pets. But the big dogs like German Shepherds, Great Danes, pit bulls, Belgian Malinois and Bullmastiffs endured the heat.

Most of the mongrels, observed one participant, didn't seem to mind the heat at all.

Second dog walk

One dog owner thought it would have been better to have held the walk during the cooler months, or at a much earlier time or, perhaps, later in the afternoon to avoid the scorching heat of the sun.

The event was originally scheduled for February, then moved to March 20. When several provinces showed interest in joining, the PCCI decided to move it to May 8.

Salagosta added that preparations for a gathering of this magnitude were no joke, but "with the successful reception of people and dogs, there is a possibility for a second nationwide dog walk."

With reports from Inquirer wires