I recently found out that my pet dog was impounded by our city’s health department. I usually let my dog roam freely along our street in our neighborhood since he is friendly and also since the people in our area know my dog very well. One day, my dog went missing and after looking for him I was informed by a barangay worker that he saw the animal control personnel of our city came to catch our dog and impounded him. I immediately went to the Office of the City Veterinarian to ask about this and I was told that our dog was impounded because he was roaming the street without a leash and therefore was considered a stray dog.
Is this legal? Can a dog be considered a stray dog even if it has an owner? Is it legal for them to impound my dog without informing me about this? Thank you for your advice.
Republic Act (RA) 9482, known as the Anti-Rabies Act of 2007, provides for the legal definition of a stray dog and the manner by which a stray dog can be impounded. This law was made in line with the policy of the State to establish responsible pet ownership.
With regard to the emphasis for responsible pet ownership, RA 9482 states that both the dog owner and even the local government units have specific mandates and responsibility in the care of dogs. According to Section 5 (c) of this law, it is the responsibility of the pet owners to maintain control over their dogs and not to allow them to roam the streets or any public place without a leash.
On the other hand, local government units (LGUs) are responsible for ensuring that dogs are leashed or confined within the premises of a dog owner’s house or fenced surroundings (Section 7,(3), Ibid.). In addition to this, the LGUs are also responsible for strictly enforcing dog-impounding activities and field control to eliminate stray dogs (Section 7(2), Id.).
As to when a dog can be considered as a stray dog, this law defines a stray dog as any dog leaving its owner’s place or premise and no longer under the effective control of the dog owner (Section 3(p), Id.).
Considering these provisions, it is legal for the LGUs through its appointed animal control officers to apprehend and impound stray dogs even if they have an owner. As long as the dogs are left unattended in public places, they will be legally considered as a stray dog, which is subject of impounding in designated dog pounds. Thus, it is immaterial whether the dog owner was informed or whether he consented to the impounding of his dog since the law expressly authorizes the apprehension and impounding of dogs found to be astray.
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