Baguio Council suspends mandatory dog chipping amidst outcry
BAGUIO CITY –– A provision, mandating all pet owners to have their dogs embedded with a digital identification microchip, was suspended by the City Council on Monday, Aug. 24, following a petition from dog owners who object to the new rule.
Pending a review and the issuance of implementing rules and regulations regarding the technology and its applications, sections of Ordinance No. 60, series of 2020, which requires all dogs to be chipped, would not be enforced for the meantime, the Council ruled during its regular session.
The ordinance amended the city’s original law governing pets and the Baguio animal pound, and it took effect on June 30, during the quarantine.
Each chip records details about the animal’s vaccination history and its owner and allows the City Veterinary and Agriculture Office (CVAO) to locate lost dogs or find owners when the pet is caught and held at the pound.
A 2016 animal census states that Baguio has 60,000 dogs, based on previous registrations and free vaccination records. That number was reduced to 30,000 based on the number of vaccinated pets in 2018.
The new registration via microchips would help the city government build a pet database, in line with its drive to reduce or eliminate rabies infections attributed to dog bites, according to the CVAO.
The council acted on a petition against microchipping which was led by the Baguio Against Mandatory Dog Chipping Group. It drew support through website www.change.org.
Teddy Llamares Escorpido, who spoke on behalf of the petitioners, said numerous veterinary journals disclose possible side effects that may harm animals injected with the chips.
“Can Baguio be sued,” he asked, should the animal be injured or die from the chips, as well as for the emotional distress that brings to dog owners?
The petition also cites the region’s perceived appetite for dog meat, which would allegedly make microchipping ineffective.
It argues: “Eating dog meat has been the culinary practice of many Asian countries and particularly in the Cordillera region where its rampant despite it being illegal. Stolen dogs are kept hidden and used for breeding purposes. Microchips do not act like GPS (global positioning system) devices where you can easily trace the animal’s location when lost. There is nothing that a microchip can do equally well as an ordinary dog collar or tag which can readily be read without using any scanner.”
But given that the country is reeling from a pandemic, some members of the group said the mandatory registration of pets through microchips was “anti-poor.”
“Microchipping isn’t a necessity that an ordinary leash or collar, pet food, vaccines, vitamins, pet care products, and a loving family and shelter can provide. We urge the city government of Baguio to reconsider offering microchipping and (make) registration free of charge for pet owners who chose this registration option,” the petition says.
City Veterinarian Brigit Piok informed the Council that many other residents support the microchipping rule as a measure against unleashed dogs roaming some neighborhoods. She said many cities have the same regulation, which would cost owners a one-time P300 fee.
Piok said the ordinance grants dog owners the choice of injecting the microchip into the animal or embedding it in the dog’s collar.
The petition also questioned the three days for owners to claim pets held at the city pounding before the animals are euthanized.
Piok said the rule was established in the National Anti-Rabies Act of 2007 but urged the thousands who signed the petition and various animal welfare organizations to raise money instead for animal shelters that would house unclaimed dogs to be offered for adoption.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.