A few days ago, a post in the Philippine Animal Welfare Society's e-group raised red flags among animal lovers and activists. It was almost like a plaintive cry for help, reaching out to those who might explain the bizarre behaviour and shocking ignorance of this man, Rene Jose. Mr. Jose, it was reported, strongly disagreed with the capturing, spaying/neutering, and releasing of stray animals by the non-government organization called Compassion and Respect for Animals (CARA). This is a group of private citizens who have taken it upon themselves to address a problem that the government has done nothing about---animal control through humane means.
There are thousands, if not millions, of stray dogs and cats in the Philippines particularly in large urban areas like Manila and Quezon City. There simply isn't any initiative on the part of the government to control the strays, as if they did not exist. I might dare say that the government relies mainly on the inevitability of road kills and other forms of attrition like the dog meat trade and outright killing of the animals. Sad and irresponsible, isn't it?
But CARA is out there, the lone life boat in a sea of ignorance, enduring the incredulity of the general public and scorn and ridicule of the uneducated like Mr. Jose who had the gall to invite them to his show only to be excoriated publicly as to the uselessness and wastefulness of their efforts. An email to me from the President of CARA expressed these sentiments. I'd say, why even invite them to the show?
Mr. Jose, quite conveniently, criticized CARA's trap/spay/release program but did not offer an alternative solution. This is what irks me the most. In my book, that was a shameless setup. No societal good came out of that episode, only misinformation and a few laughs at the expense of animals and those who care for them. Worse, it was reported, Mr. Jose turned to his coterie of television yes men to validate his opposition to this universally accepted form of humane animal control. There is no better example of a wasted opportunity to further the cause of animal welfare than Good Morning Kuya.
I ask the self-proclaimed fountain of wisdom what his idea of animal care and control should be, minus the spaying and neutering that is so unacceptable to him. How do you propose Filipino society deal with the over population of strays, Mr. Jose? Please, spare me the song and dance about the homeless, and therefore worthless, animals.
If there are people in the media who choose not to embrace a social consciousness and a compassion for animals, then the least they can do is to NOT oppose those who are blessed with it.
Let's take a real life example of the benefits of spaying and neutering in controlling the animal population. Here's a quote from the website of Spay-USA , a group based in San Francisco:
" The City of Palo Alto opened a low-cost spay and neuter clinic in 1972 as part of a new animal control and care facility. Promotion of spaying and neutering was a relatively new concept in our area of the time, and the City Council was skeptical that a spay and neuter clinic would have much of an impact on the numbers of animals handled at the public animal shelter. However, though an extensive public awareness campaign of pet overpopulation, the positive effects of the spay clinic were realized within two years of the opening of the clinic. The number of dogs and cats had increased every single year from 1955 to 1973. In 1974, in the second year of the clinic's operation, the number of dogs and cat received dropped every single year from then until 1996 (when there was a large human population spike in Palo Alto. Communities surrounding Palo Alto, who also use the clinic, have reported similar reductions in animal population since the opening of the clinic in 1972. "
This same group posited that If you don't spay a female dog, that dog plus her mate and their puppies, if all remain unneutered/spayed, the exponential growth could add up to 67,000 dogs in 6 years. That's a population explosion that cannot be ignored. Now, let's take a look (below) at chart reflecting the drop in shelter intakes in New Hampshire between 1988 thru 2000. You can see the benefits of a rigorously enforced trap/neuter-return programs. Click on the diagrams to make them bigger.
Now, let's take a look (below) at Spay-USA's chart depicting the changes in shelter intake, adoption and euthanasia rates in a metropolitan area like San Francisco when a trap/neuter/return program is in effect:
I must admit that the shelter and rescue system in the Philippines is not as extensive and developed as in the USA, but these numbers nevertheless point to the fact that a trap/spay/release program can be very effective in controlling the animal population. This program should not even be an option left to civic-minded citizens, but a must-have program run by the government considering the magnitude of the problem in the Philippines. In the meantime, animal welfare groups continue the fight against overwhelming odds. There is dignity in their work and hope for the animals.
For those of you who want to start a spay/neutering clinic, here is Spay-USA's page for the upstarts:
Credit: Spay-USA for charts.