BAGUIO CITY – Mayor Benjamin Magalong is calling on the public to be responsible pet owners as city veterinarian Brigit Piok announced the need to decrease the city’s stray dog population to lessen problems they cause like dog bites, scattering of garbage and “poop” along pathways. She made the announcement in Monday’s flag-raising rites at city hall.
She said that other than raising fines for erring pet owners, there are also plans to require all dog owners to register their pets with microchips that will be implanted under the dog’s skin and serve as its identity for life.
Piok added that the microchip will include the dog’s name, breed, age, vaccination, name of owner, address, and more.
“This is important to identify violators and who will answer for whatever violations if any. With our program, we hope to eliminate ‘askal” or asong kalye in Baguio and change them to a new brand of ‘asbag’ or asong Baguio,” she explained.
Piok revealed that in her office’s actual survey conducted in 2016, there are 60,000 dogs in the Summer Capital. She admitted that even with the city veterinary office’s dog neutering project to stop the animals from reproducing, it does not have data if the canine population has decreased or increased since 2016.
She warned that dog bite is the number three cause of morbidity in humans according to the Health Services Office. Piok stressed, however, that there is zero cases of rabies in humans and animals in the city despite cases of rabies in neighboring municipalities.
“Our program is to reduce dog bites in the city especially those caused by stray dogs and to vaccinate at least 80 percent of the local dog population,” she said.
Piok disclosed that during her office’s first meeting with the Mayor, they were ordered to intensify the impounding of stray dogs starting at Purok 17, Irisan. She said four job orders were immediately hired to augment the one team of dog catchers her office had.
“There were a lot of stray dogs caught in that area and the good news is people in that community are now learning to cooperate even though painful. I say painful because when people change they have to give up a little of their ego because may mga tao na sadyang pasaway at sadyang nakikipagtalo sa pagpapatupad ng batas,” Piok said.
She said that there are still stray dogs in the area, her office has assessed that their number has decreased by 60 to 80 percent. Piok added that her team is inspired to do their role in catching stray dogs with the strong support of the Mayor.
“Some barangays have reactivated their teams like Middle Quirino Hill where they are regularly monitoring dogs trapped in the traps we issued them and they are now regularly submitting their reports on stray dogs. I hope other barangays will follow,” she said./Gaby Keith