ANIMALSPEAK: GASSING DOGS – ARE WE GOING BACK TO THE NAZI ERA?
By Crysta Imperial Rara
When I told a colleague that the government was gassing stray dogs, she exclaimed: “Gassing…you mean, like the Nazis used to do?”
I fell silent. That thought had never occurred to me. The tambucho gassing of stray dogs has been in the news for some time now. The animal protection groups have launched a campaign to pressure officials to put a stop to it.
The issue has even reached the international scene – more than two thousand five hundred people, including citizens of other countries, have signed a petition addressed to the Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala asking him to rescind Administrative Order 21 (AO21).
AO 21 states that officials should consider “the freedom of animals from physical discomfort and pain and their freedom from fear and distress during the conduct of euthanasia.”
Yet in a subsequent paragraph, AO 21 allows euthanasia in the form of shooting by firearm for dogs, cats, horses, pigs, lizards, snakes, ruminants, non-human primates and marine mammals. Decapitation will be done to euthanize rabbits while birds will be subjected to cervical dislocation.
Another accepted form of euthanasia for stray animals is asphyxiation via carbon monoxide from motor vehicles.
In the petition authored by Ted Teodoro, an animal rights advocate based in New Jersey, a description of the agony experienced by the animals being gassed leaves no doubt about the brutality of the act: “What follows is the frantic clawing of the animal, its plaintive cries for help, its desperate search for a safe corner. The animal rolls and twitches. At some point, the body no longer responds to the animal's natural instincts but some level of consciousness lingers on. This process can take as long as fifteen minutes.”
I watched the video shot by a concerned citizen from Kidapawan in Cotobato Province. The scenes still haunt me – the dogs were struggling to escape from the holding pen, crying out in fear and panic just before they were mercilessly killed. Once the gas was turned on, I couldn’t help but feel furious and helpless as they wailed and clawed to get out of the metal box.
It definitely was no humane death. I wonder if the officials in the Committee on Animal Welfare (CAW), most of whom are veterinarians, really know what the words euthanasia, humane or merciful mean.
They say these methods will help reduce the cost of euthanasia by injection. Putting a dog to sleep by injecting Euthal or sodium pentobarbital costs about two hundred pesos per dosage for medium-sized dogs. But the drug can be acquired at a lower cost if bought by the bulk.
It’s a better way to put down a dog because the drug relaxes him first. So there is no panic and struggle on the part of the animal.
The Philippine Animal Welfare (PAWS) and the Philippine Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PSPCA) voted against AO21 but they were outnumbered.
Perhaps we should take a look at the curriculum in our veterinary schools. Are the graduates taught ethics and kindness toward animals? I’ve had my share of experiences with vets who no doubt love their work and the animals. I’ve run into many who misdiagnose diseases, give the wrong medicines or don’t care about the animal’s comfort or welfare.
But vets who recommend gassing, shooting, decapitation and cervical dislocation are another breed. There’s too much pain in gassing; shooting may be off the mark so the animal will suffer; decapitation is inhumane and cervical dislocation, which means breaking the neck or snapping the spine – is too medieval.
Besides, where’s the humanity in all this? Are we producing vets who know the techniques but have no heart?
The Nazis gassed the Jews. The world condemned it. Our government is gassing and killing the animals inhumanely. We should also all condemn it. Sign the petition and help end the brutal killing of our animals.
Published in my column, AnimalSpeak, in ANIMAL SCENE magazine Sept 2010