December 20, 2010
Making Progress for Dogs in the Philippines
by Julie Hauserman
An important November 2010 trip by Humane Society International staff will pay big dividends for suffering dogs in the Philippines.
On the trip, HSI Director of Companion Animals Kelly O’Meara and HSI India Director Rahul Sehgal and partner group, Animal Welfare Coalition, had a meeting with Vice President Binay of the Philippines to discuss a variety of animal issues. And they were on hand to witness a historic event: the mayor of Cebu city, Michael L. Rama, signed an agreement with HSI that kicks off a two-year effort to spay/neuter and vaccinate thousands of roaming dogs in the populous city.
“This is a milestone, and we are so pleased to see the interest in humane animal protection practices growing throughout the region,” said O’Meara.
Training local vets
The key to the mass spay/neuter and vaccination program is that it is sustainable: HSI is providing initial training for the country’s veterinarians, and then those veterinarians are training their colleagues to keep the program going. Under the partnership agreement O’Meara and Sehgal signed, HSI will donate $50,000 over two years to pay for supplies and for two Filipino veterinarians to implement the spay/neuter project.
“Their job is not only to be the main veterinarians doing spay/neuter on the island, but also to train other vets in humane spay/neuter techniques,” O’Meara said.
HSI and veterinarians in the Philippines have been working together for several years to end some outdated inhumane practices in the country, such as using painful wire nooses to catch street dogs and exterminating them in gas chambers.
A series of HSI-sponsored workshops over the past two years has been training animal handlers to adopt more humane techniques—catching dogs in butterfly nets, for example, and using the internationally accepted and humane standard of euthanasia: injecting sodium pentobarbital.
Cebu sets the trend
“Cebu city is the first province to take our trainings on humane animal policies and successfully implement them,” O’Meara said, adding that the initiative has been spearheaded by a true champion for animals: lead Cebu city veterinarian Alice T. Utlang.
On their trip, O’Meara, Sehgal and partner group Animal Welfare Coalition also met with officials from nearby communities, including Lapo Lapo province as well as Mayor Jejomar Binay of Makati City in metro Manila. Officials in both communities pledged to adopt humane practices and expand programs to spay/neuter street dogs.
In addition, HSI is partnering with Southwestern Veterinary College, a private institution on Cebu, to provide even more training programs to improve animal welfare in the region. Classes will be offered to veterinarians from March to June to enhance spay/neuter skills.
“Our intent is to have a facility where we can hold trainings for all the communities that show an interest in humane technique,” O’Meara said. “The instruction that HSI is offering will undoubtedly help improve the lives of dogs throughout the Philippines.”