Dog Advocates: ‘Allow us to take pictures of Dogs, Install CCTV at City Pound’

BAGUIO CITY – Animal advocates in the city called on the City Veterinary and Agriculture Office (CVAO) to allow them to take pictures of impounded dogs and to install closed-circuit television (CCTV) at the city pound.

Representing the different animal welfare groups, Lovely Tuazon complained to the city council about how seldom the City Veterinary and Agriculture Office (CVAO) has posted in its official Facebook page pictures of impounded dogs that need to be claimed by their owners and those that are up for adoption over the past months.

Tuazon emphasized the urgency of posting pictures of these impounded dogs on social media at the soonest possible time so that they will be claimed by their owners right away and those with health problems that are up for adoption will be provided prompt and appropriate treatment.

She questioned Section 19.1 of the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the Responsible Dog Ownership Ordinance (Ordinance 19-21) which states, “Taking of pictures and videos from the dog pound is not allowed unless with the approval from the city veterinarian. The CVAO shall be responsible for taking the pictures which shall then be published/posted in the official CVAO Facebook page.”

She asserted that private individuals are very much willing to help expedite the impounded dogs’ adoption process or their safe return to their owners by posting the dogs’ pictures on social media platforms, explaining further that animal advocates are against dog euthanasia which is one of the manners of disposal of impounded dogs that are not claimed within three days as stipulated by the ordinance in accordance with the Animal Welfare Act of 1988.

Dr. Siladro Bested, Asst. City Veterinarian said taking pictures of dogs at the pound are allowed as long as it is approved by the office. He said taking pictures is only for scientific and research purposes only.

Bested argued that allowing citizens to post pictures of captured dogs creates “confusion,” a claim quickly dismissed by Tuazon and several members of the council as this, according to them, can be easily addressed by putting into place an efficient system for claiming dogs at the pound.

Councilor Betty Lourdes Tabanda, author of the Responsible Dog Ownership Ordinance, said there is a need to introduce amendments in the ordinance and its IRR in order to address this concern.

As a consensus, Section 19.1 of the IRR will be amended to allow volunteers to take pictures of impounded dogs but subject to conditions or guidelines to be prepared by the CVAO. This is aligned with Section 23 of the ordinance which states that “widest dissemination for dogs available for adoption shall be utilized with the assistance of accredited animal welfare non-government organizations, when feasible.”

Bested, then, urged animal welfare groups in the city to be accredited with the city government through the city council and registered with the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI).

As agreed upon, the CVAO shall post pictures of impounded dogs at least twice a week.

Section 19 of the IRR of the ordinance provides that the “City Public Animal Pound shall be established and maintained under the supervision of the CVAO, subject to coordination with the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI). Barangay Animal Pounds may also be established under the supervision of the punong barangay in coordination with the CVAO.”

The same section further states that “unregistered, stray, and unvaccinated dogs and those declared as nuisance shall be impounded and kept in the city pound.”

Citing Rule 23.3 of the IRR, Tabanda pointed out that unclaimed healthy dogs may be turned over to an animal shelter or to an animal welfare group, provided the group is accredited with the city government and registered with BAI. A Memorandum of Agreement shall be entered into between the city government and the non-government organization concerned to stipulate the terms and conditions.

Tuazon also cited instances where dogs at the pound were allegedly being neglected and not being taken care of properly. Bested, however, denied the allegation, stating that they regularly monitor the dogs.

Echoing the request of the animal welfare groups in the city, Tuazon said installing closed-circuit television (CCTV) at the city pound will promote transparency and accountability. She said the private groups are willing to shoulder the cost of the CCTV and its installation.

“The CCTV will help us monitor if the custodians are taking good care of the dogs at the facility. This also offers protection on the part of the CVAO as it can also be used to dispel allegations against the custodians,” Tuazon explained.

Vice Mayor Faustino Olowan stressed the need to improve the system and the management of the city pound to ensure the welfare of the animals.

The city council advised the CVAO to prepare a proposal for the improvement of the city pound to be included in their budget for the next calendar year. –Jordan G. Habbiling