Animal welfare and the law

Persida Acosta

Persida Acosta

Dear PAO,
Would I be criminally liable for killing a mad dog on the loose, that was about to attack me? Would it be a violation of the law against cruelty to animals or animal abuse?

Dear Rhino,
The law you are referring to is Republic Act (RA) 8485, or The Animal Welfare Act of 1998. This law was amended by RA 10631in 2013. Its primordial purpose is to protect and promote the welfare of all animals in the Philippines. Section 6 of the law provides:

“SEC. 6. It shall be unlawful for any person to torture any animal, to neglect to provide adequate care, sustenance of shelter or maltreat any animal or to subject any dog or horse to dogfights or horsefights, kill or cause or procure to be tortured or deprived of adequate care, sustenance or shelter or maltreat or use the same in research or experiments not expressly authorized by the Committee on Animal Welfare.

The killing of any animal other than cattle, pigs, goats, sheep, poultry, rabbits, carabaos and horses is also hereby declared unlawful except in the following instances:

(1) When it is done as part of the religious rituals of an established religion or sect or a ritual required by tribal or ethnic custom of indigenous cultural communities; however, leaders shall keep records in cooperation with the Committee on Animal Welfare;

(2) When the pet animal is afflicted with an incurable communicable disease as determined and certified by a duly licensed veterinarian;

(3) When the killing is deemed necessary to put an end to the misery suffered by the animal as determined and certified by a duly licensed veterinarian;

(4) When it is done to prevent an imminent danger to the life or limb of a human being; and

(5) When it is done for the purpose of animal population control;

(6) When the animal is killed after it has been used in authorized research or experiments; and

(7) Any other ground analogous to the foregoing as determined and certified by a licensed veterinarian.

In all the above-mentioned cases, including those of cattle, pigs, goats, sheep, poultry, rabbits, carabaos, horses, deer and crocodiles, the killing of the animals shall be done through humane procedures at all times.

For this purpose, humane procedures shall mean the use of the most scientific methods available as may be determined and approved by the committee.

Only those procedures approved by the committee shall be used in the killing of animals.”

Any person found guilty of violating the aforesaid law shall be meted the penalty of imprisonment and/or fine.

In your situation, killing a rabid dog that is about to attack you does not give rise to a violation of the law. As clearly stated above, killing an animal is not unlawful if the same is done for the purpose of preventing a looming danger that the animal may inflict on the life or limb of a person.

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


Please follow our commenting guidelines.

Comments are closed.