Animal abuse and cruelty are significant issues in the Philippines. Despite the country’s warm and compassionate culture, there is a distressing prevalence of mistreatment towards animals. From neglect and abandonment to acts of violence, innocent animals suffer. These challenges highlight the need for increased awareness, stronger enforcement of animal welfare laws, and a collective effort to promote a culture of empathy and kindness towards animals. Animals are not merely resources or commodities but sentient beings who live on the same ground as us. We must extend our empathy and compassion beyond the confines of our species.
As humanists, we place a strong emphasis on empathy, compassion, and recognizing the value of every individual. Just like humans, animals are sentient beings. Science has provided significant evidence that demonstrates the emotional and cognitive capacities of various species, be it mammals, birds, reptiles, and even invertebrates. As sentient beings, they can experience pain, joy, fear, and affection–the same emotional spectrum that humans experience. The difference is that they cannot put it into words like humans do.
There has been a troubling rise in incidents of animal cruelty in the country these past few years. Disturbing statistics from the Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) reveal that between 2010 and 2017, over 7,000 cases of animal cruelty. Perhaps even more alarming, The Compassion and Responsibility for Animals (CARA) Welfare Philippines reported a staggering 3,000 cases of animal cruelty in the year 2020 alone. Common acts of abuse are beating, kicking, burning, and “katay” of animals. Mistreatment and negligence of owners are often let off the hook easily or even go unnoticed.
One of the foundations that reinforce the animal welfare aspect of the nation is the Animal Welfare Act of 1998 (Republic Act No. 8485). This legislation criminalizes various forms of animal cruelty, such as maltreatment, negligence, and abandonment. However, despite the existence of this law, there are still individuals who evade appropriate punishment for their acts of animal abuse and cruelty. Animal cruelty remains an ongoing problem that impacts vulnerable animals who are unable to protect themselves.
Fortunately, there are dedicated advocacy groups in the Philippines that consist of passionate individuals and organizations. These groups tirelessly work to raise awareness about animal rights, advocate for stronger legal protections, and encourage responsible pet ownership. Additionally, numerous rescue and foster organizations across the country have been actively involved in rescuing and providing care for mistreated and sick animals. While these efforts are commendable, it is important to recognize that they face limitations and cannot single-handedly address all the challenges associated with animal abuse and cruelty.
As instances of animal cruelty continue to occur, there is a need for a shift in societal perspectives towards animals. Through nurturing a culture of empathy and comprehension from the ground up, we can actively contribute to a society that does not tolerate cruelty towards animals and places their well-being as a collective priority. Incorporating the principles of compassion towards animals into educational programs can have a lasting influence on the upcoming generations. By integrating teachings on animal welfare into the school curriculum, we not only provide young minds with knowledge about the needs and rights of animals but also foster a sense of accountability for their welfare. This educational strategy can be a powerful means to shape the mindset of the youth, cultivating a generation that prioritizes the ethical treatment of animals and understands the interconnectedness of all living creatures.
It is important to acknowledge that combating animal cruelty is not just a legal and moral obligation, but also a reflection of a nation’s values. The Philippines, as a society that cherishes compassion and kindness, stands at a pivotal moment where united efforts can make a lasting impact. By tackling the underlying causes of animal cruelty, enhancing legal structures, encouraging community participation, promoting education, and cultivating a culture of empathy, the Philippines can create a better future for its animal inhabitants, where they can flourish without suffering from cruelty and neglect.