I was once driving in the national highway in our province when I observed that the car ahead of me suddenly pulled over in a deserted part of the road to let his dog out of the car. At first I thought he was just going to let his dog relieve itself on the road but, to my surprise, the car sped off and left the dog out alone on the road. I tried to catch up on the other car to inform him that he left his dog. He stopped when I was able to catch up on him and I told him that he forgot about his dog on the road. I was surprised when he hastily told me before speeding off again that he left his dog on purpose because his child does not want it anymore and that they are too busy to care for it. Because of this, I tried to return to the spot where he left the dog but for some reason, I wasn’t able to find the dog again.
Now, I want to know if there is any law that penalizes such pet owners in their act of abandoning their pets, and inquire as well, about the punishment for it, if there is any. I hope for your advice. Thanks!
Based on your narration, it appears that you witnessed how a dog owner intentionally abandoned his pet out on the road without regard to its safety and well-being. This kind of action can be penalized under Republic Act 8484, known as the Animal Welfare Act of 1998, as amended by RA 10631.
The Animal Welfare Act of 1998 is the governing law that primarily promotes and protects the welfare of animals and punishes those who abuse and maltreat them. According to this law:
“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.
“If the animal is left in circumstances likely to cause the animal any unnecessary suffering, or if this abandonment results in the death of the animal, the person liable shall suffer the maximum penalty.
“Abandonment means the relinquishment of all right, title, claim or possession of the animal with the intention of not reclaiming its ownership or possession.” (Section 7, RA 8484 as amended by RA 10631).
As expressly stated by the above-cited law, abandoning pets is considered a criminal act with a corresponding penalty that depends on the resulting injury to the abandoned animal. The provision of the law regarding the penalty imposed on this crime states:
“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.
xxx”(Section 9, Id).
It can be seen here that the law imposes not just a monetary fine against those who will abandon and maltreat their pet animals, but also imprisonment with a period ranging from six (6) months to one (1) year and six (6) months depending on the resulting injury to the maltreated animals. With this, it is clear that the owner of the dog who abandoned his pet on a road can be made criminally liable and punished for his action, which is considered by law as criminal maltreatment of an animal.
Again, we find it necessary to mention that this opinion is solely based on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. The opinion may vary when the facts are changed or elaborated.
We hope that we were able to enlighten you on the matter.
Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org