Neglect of pets punishable under Animal Welfare Act

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Persida Acosta

Persida Acosta

Dear PAO,
My neighbor and I have been long-time rivals. Ever since our elementary and high school days, we have always been competing for grades, for attention and for recognition. Up to this day that we have our own families already, we continue to be aloof with each other, and somewhat always trying to put the other down.

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One day, I walked by her house and saw that her dog, a cute Beagle, was chained to their fence and left outside the house with no shelter, food or water. The poor dog was obviously dehydrated from the scorching sun, and had nowhere to go since it was chained. There was no one in their house since I knew that all of them went away for a weekend in the province. I would just want to know if I can report her to the barangay, and if there is any possible case I can file against her for her cruelty to the poor dog. I would gladly file a case against her because this could be my chance to put her down once more.
Samantha

Dear Samantha,
Although we do not condone your vengeful and bitter motives against your neighbor, her obvious neglect of her pet dog has the appropriate legal consequences under the law. Section 9 of Republic Act 8485,as amended by RA 10631 or The Animal Welfare Act, provides:

“SECTION 9. 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.”

Under this provision, any act of cruelty, maltreatment or neglect of an animal is punishable by law. Therefore, your neighbor could be charged with “animal cruelty” for leaving her pet dog chained outside their house without any shelter, food, or water over the course of one weekend.

In Section 1, the law aims to “protect and promote the welfare of all terrestrial, aquatic and marine animals in the Philippines.” Further, the law states that “animal welfare pertains to the physical and psychological well-being of animals. It includes, but is not limited to, the avoidance of abuse, maltreatment, cruelty and exploitation of animals by humans by maintaining appropriate standards of accommodation, feeding and general care, the prevention and treatment of disease and the assurance of freedom from fear, distress, harassment and unnecessary discomfort and pain, and allowing animals to express normal behavior.”

Clearly, the intent of the law is to protect animals from cruel treatment. Hence, setting aside your differences with your neighbor, she is still liable for violation of the Animal Welfare Act by reason of her cruelty, maltreatment and neglect of her poor dog. Shelter, food and water are basic requirements for any pet dog. Leaving a pet dog without any of these over an entire weekend is tantamount to cruelty.

We hope that we were able to answer your queries. Please be reminded that this advice is based solely on the facts that you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. Our opinion may vary when other facts are changed or elaborated.

Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to dearpao@manilatimes.net

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