Pet lovers still uneasy after QC law repeal

Animal welfare advocates called on the Quezon City government “to put in black and white” the reported scrapping of an animal control ordinance limiting the number of pets per household to four.

This was after City Hall announced that Ordinance No. 2386 had been effectively repealed with the passage of a new law consolidating animal-related policies in the city. The measure earlier sparked outrage from pet owners protesting the limit and the P500 special permit required for those who wish to keep more than four pets.

The city veterinary services office has defended the restriction by citing 2014 figures showing that 90 percent of the 13,231 animal bite cases recorded in the city involved pets. That same year, the city also posted the highest number of rabies cases in Metro Manila at 25, it added.

Vice Mayor Joy Belmonte on Tuesday said the ordinance, approved March 13, was “no longer applicable” as it would be superseded by the more comprehensive Ordinance No. 2389, the City Veterinary Code, which was approved March 26 and no longer imposed a limit.

But members of the Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) remained unconvinced, staging a protest rally Wednesday at City Hall. PAWS executive director Anna Cabrera demanded to see a document that ‘’repeals it properly.”

“Don’t hide under an ordinance that was just incidentally signed later,” Cabrera said, adding that she found nothing in the code explicitly stating it was repealing the pet limit provision. “Referring to the new veterinary code seems to be the officials’ way of … sweeping the problem under the rug and quelling any public protest about the controversial ordinance.”

PAWS said the contentious ordinance “promotes pet abandonment—which is a violation of the Animal Welfare Act—and infringes on pet owners’ right to property and right to privacy.”

A better solution would be for the city government to have a spay and neuter program for pets and strays, said PAWS, which also noted that animal welfare advocates were not consulted on the ordinance.

Belmonte explained on Wednesday: “If they were not invited to the hearings, we would like to apologize. They should have been invited. The councilors have stated that they sent out invitations, but sometimes the invited parties do not attend.”

“I’m thankful to them for bringing it up. We will be more conscious to ensure that their presence is always there when there are similar issues discussed on the floor,” she said.

For resident Eric Suguitan, who keeps 18 cats and dogs, most of them “rescued” from the streets, the ordinance may be intended to promote responsible pet ownership but could end up punishing rescuers like him “who are actually helping (the local government) keep strays off the streets.”