December 12, 2017

We are enraged by reports that 30 dogs that were arranged to take part in an annual dog show died after being transported in a closed van.

In a Facebook post ( , the Philippine Canine Club Inc. acknowledged the incident that it said happened on 2 December 2017 during the Beagle Fanciers Club Dog Show.

However, we find the club’s action sorely lacking amid the tragic fate suffered by the dogs. In the “Incident Statement” it issued, the club merely said it will have a trial board “to immediately commence a speedy and impartial investigation on the matter.”

While we respect the club’s internal processes, it must be noted that the incident violated certain provisions of Republic Act 10631 or the Amended Animal Welfare Act. The negligent person should not face mere suspension but penalties imposed by the law if proven guilty.

As chairperson of the Senate Committee on Agriculture in the 15th Congress, we worked hard to have the original law amended to give it more teeth against violators and to make it more responsive in protecting and promoting animal welfare.

Sections 3 and 4 of the law deal with the supervision and regulation of establishments, including those involved in training of dogs and in their transport. Section 7 says that a liable person shall suffer the maximum penalty if guilty of leaving an animal in circumstances likely to cause, or if this abandonment results in, its death. Section 9 details the various penalties for violation of the law, ranging from 6 months’ jail time and/or P30,000 fine to 3 years’ jail time and/or P250,000 fine.

If 30 dogs died in the incident as reported, that would be 30 counts, with maximum penalties of up to 90 years’ imprisonment and/or P7.5 million fine.

It’s time to stop treating animals as mere commodities. How we regard animals show our capacity for empathy and decency, kindness and humanity.