A LEARNING PROCESS : ANIMAL WELFARE

I wasn’t always fond of animals. I was terrified of dogs when I was young. Maybe because I was tiny and they were most of the time bigger than me.  When I grew a bit bigger, I started bringing home abandoned kittens and feeding stray cats.

I later on found out that there was such a thing called an animal welfare organization. I followed one in particular, CARA Welfare Philippines, and when I was in between jobs, my mom told me that there was a job opportunity there and, immediately, I took a shot at it. Luckily, I got hired and had the opportunity to work with the board members, volunteers, clients, and of course the animals for a while.

My stay in an animal welfare organization was an emotional roller coaster. We had a non-profit veterinary clinic where we cater to clients to be able to provide for our “adoptables”. We had a huge number of cats and a handful of dogs but we didn’t have a shelter. We had an area at the back of the clinic where our cats and dogs stayed and we had partners and volunteers who foster some of our cats and dogs. There were so many bittersweet moments, but I can honestly say that it was the best experience I’ve had in my life so far.

The reason why I’m writing about this is I want to start sharing some of the things I’ve learned while working in a non-government animal welfare organization and somehow give clarity to some of the questions and comments I’ve received while I was working there.

 

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“You’re an animal welfare organization right? Then you can handle this yourself. I reported the case and that’s all I can do. “

I took in calls from people who would report animal abuse cases and tried to help them out as much as I can, but due to the lack of man power and funds, organizations sometimes have limited help to offer. Each case is different, sometimes organizations need to work together to be able to make things possible. However, I want you to know that if you are a reporter organizations would seek help from you as well.

During rescue cases, the reporter should at least take responsibility or take charge in caring for the rescued animal. You can’t just make a report and leave it to someone else or tell an organization that they should handle it themselves. We try, believe me, but sometimes, you are also asked to do some tasks. If you can shoulder the medical expenses of the rescue, foster or adopt them, then please do so. If not, that’s alright, organizations will always try to find a way to get those done, but as the reporter, it is your duty to help out as well. Maybe share the story of the rescued animal in social media to help raise funds and awareness, that’s already helping organizations in a ginormous way!

There are some instances where you may be asked to testify in court to make sure that the perpetrators get what they deserve, please don’t hesitate to do so. Don’t get me wrong, I do understand that there are moments when you may fear for your well-being if you cross the line pinning certain people down, but, we can’t let people who abuse animals simply walk away, right?

“Why do I need to pay for an adoption fee and do a home visit before I can take them home? Your organization just picked up those cats and dogs from the street for free right?”

Yes, you’re right. We take them in from the streets because people abandon them. But, before we get them up for adoption, we prep them. We vaccinate them, cure them of the diseases they might have picked up from the street, we spay or neuter them. We basically make sure that they are ready to live a happy, healthy life with their new fur-ever home. We ask for an adoption fee so that we can continue treating and caring for the cats and dogs we get to rescue in the future, just like how we did for the ones up for adoption.

A home visit is also necessary since we want to make sure that the cat or dog we are adopting out will be safe and cared for. We don’t want them to suffer the same fate that they did before we took them in.

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“Can I surrender my dog/cat to your organization? I can no longer take care of it.”

Surrendering an animal is exactly the same as abandoning an animal and according to the Philippine’s Republic Act 10631 which is the amended RA 8485:

     SECTION 7.  It shall be unlawful for any person who has custody to an animal to abandon the animal.
If any person being the owner or having charge or control of any animal shall without reasonable cause or excuse abandon it, whether permanently or not, without providing for the care of that animal, such act shall constitute maltreatment under Section 9.

SECTION 9.  Any person who subjects any animal to cruelty, maltreatment or neglect shall, upon conviction by final judgment, be punished by imprisonment and/or fine, as indicated in the following graduated scale:

1)   Imprisonment of one (1) year and six (6) months and one (1) day to two (2) years and/or fine not exceeding One hundred thousand pesos (P100,000.00) if the animal subjected to cruelty, maltreatment, or neglect dies;

2)  Imprisonment of one (1) year and one (1) day to one (1) year and six (6) months and/or a fine not exceeding Fifty thousand pesos (P50,000.00) if the animal subjected to cruelty, maltreatment or neglect survives but is severely injured with loss of its natural faculty to survive on its own and needing human intervention to sustain its life; and

3)   Imprisonment of six (6) months to one (1) year and/or fine not exceeding Thirty thousand pesos (P30,000.00) for subjecting any animal to cruelty, maltreatment or neglect but without causing its death or incapacitating it to survive on its own.

If the violation is committed by a juridical person, the officer responsible thereof shall serve the imprisonment.  If the violation is committed by an alien, he or she shall be immediately deported after the service of sentence without any further proceeding.

The foregoing penalties shall also apply for any other violation of this Act, depending upon the effect or result of the act or omission as defined immediately in the preceding sections.

However, regardless of the resulting condition to the animals, the penalty of two (2) years and one (1) day to three (3) years ad/or a fine not exceeding Two hundred fifty thousand pesos (P250,000.00) shall be imposed if the offense is committed by any of the following: (1) a syndicate; (2) an offender who makes business out of cruelty to an animal; (3) a public officer or employee; or (4) where at least three (3) animals are involved.

In any of the foregoing situations, the offender shall suffer subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency and the inability to pay the fine.

So, no, you cannot “surrender” your cat or dog to any organization or leave them anywhere.

“It’s all a scam.”

How I wish that there weren’t hundreds of animals searching for homes in different shelters and clinics. But that isn’t the case. Go and see for yourself. There are tons of animals in our care and the volunteers and staff are trying there best to scrape every bit of funds they have to provide for all of the rescues’ expenses. Volunteers come up with witty ideas to raise funds and sometimes, luckily, we are sent kind-hearted individuals who donate goods and sometimes money to keep the operations going.

Honestly, there is nothing more rewarding than working for the animals. I’m actually very happy that, in the previous year, animal welfare had been something that most people are starting to deeply care about. I’ve seen a lot of articles, videos, photos, and other posts on social networking sites promoting responsible pet ownership, spaying and neutering, caring for wildlife and other environmental concerns. I’ve been wanting to talk about these things for a while now but I never had the chance to do so. The comments and questions above are only a few of those that have been bothering me for a while now. I probably will be sharing more soon.

Our world is changing, I just hope that despite all the negativity, animals have something positive to look forward to.

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