By Jing Montealegre
East and West differ in our appreciation of animals, particularly cats and dogs. Not that we, in the East, love them less; but we love them more on our dinner plates. Cooked dog meat keeps us warm in the highlands, and it makes gin taste better. A Chinese restaurant I frequent is famous for siopaos made from cat meat. But how come we still have so many strays roaming around?
In the provinces especially, cats and dogs roam our streets with the pigs, chickens, ducks, urchins, drunks and tanods. The local barangay recently undertook a sweeping activity for strays in our community. They rounded up five cats, ten dogs, a turtle, a chick, and my neighbor’s wife, who was stalking him.
On Animal Planet and Discovery channels, even on CNN and Fox News, we see Occidentals move heaven and earth to rescue a trapped animal - a cat up a ledge, a horse in quicksand, a whale stranded ashore, a golfer stuck in a sand trap. And we’re quite impressed at how far they’d go to save distressed creatures and nurse them back to health. Examples come to mind: Willy, the lovable killer whale in Free Willy, the Chicago Bulls after Michael Jordan, and Tiger Woods after being caught cheating (on the wife) and chased with a seven iron. (The last two, unfortunately, never recovered fully.)
“But we do the same,” you complain. “We care for the silly animals just as much!” Only that we usually botch the rescue attempt and the luckless creatures wind up dead or in a worst position than before. So, to our dinner plates they go just the same. Just kidding.
That was of course before the emergence of private animal welfare groups such as PAWS, CARA, PETA, Save ALL, AWC, AKW - when the government handled (and mishandled) all animal protection and rescue. With the passage of Republic Act 8485 (the Animal Welfare Act) and animal rights on the rise, individuals and communities are readily extending protection and adoption services to our four-legged friends. To be sure, animal abuse, like wife beating, is now a criminal activity.
But it’s also true that cats have less than nine lives in our neighborhood. They only have two or three. The rest of the “kitty” goes to the contractor, the governor, the congressman, the mayor, the police chief and the barangay captain.
Like our western friends, we too have a great variety of dog breeds – shih-tzus, retrievers, terriers, pugs, shepherds, asPins (asong Pinoy) and ASKALS (asong kalye). We have protection dogs, guard dogs and trained dogs for bomb sniffing and drug sniffing. They are called police dogs. We have guide dogs for the blind and the disabled and they are called GDB or service dogs. We also have celebrity sniffing dogs. They are called celebrity hounds or movie reporters.
Seriously, we love our cats and dogs. Remember ‘Kabang,’ that plucky hero of a dog that lost half a face to save two young girls from an onrushing vehicle? We took care of him – not without a ‘little’ help from the international community, of course – but took care we did, and sent him packing on an extended U.S. hospital stay for snout surgery and reconstruction. You don’t do that even for your mother-in-law.
While dog meat trading continues and dog meat still favored as delectable fare by some (ghastly gourmets, I must say), we are making notable progress. Compare us to countries like South Korea, which allows dog meat farms to thrive and exist without government intervention at all, and you’ll realize that we’re better off than some First World economies. (Even the North’s Dear Leader will be happy knowing that.)
With smart phones cocked and ready, trigger-happy Filipino netizens now provide round-the clock video coverage of any acts of cruelty to animals. The 24-hour news cycle and Facebook make this happen. So, in our neck of the woods, it’s payback time for those sadistic bastards who regularly beat, trade and eat our beloved cats and dogs.
About the author: Mr. Jing Montealegre is a retired advertising executive.Editor's note: Sunday Pets Page accepts contributions from readers such as articles or personal essays on their experience as dog or cat owners or any subject about animals, proper pet care, animal welfare, animal protection, and animal rights. The article must be written in English with a maximum of 700 words. Please attach two (2) photos. Please send to [email protected]
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