Network For Animals, together with the PSPCA have this week completed a tour of 40 elementary schools in Baguio, Philippines lecturing on animal welfare. Typical class sizes for the one hour lectures were 30-40 students, though notably in Dona Nicasia Elementary School, more than 500 students were present for a single lecture!
Topics covered included Responsible Pet Ownership, Animal Cruelty Laws and Rabies, with a strong focus on the eating of dog meat. All lectures concluded with a question and answer session, with small prizes for good contributions from the audience.
Reaching out to the Filipino youth is a vital facet in the battle for change in a society which accepts the killing and eating of dogs as the norm, rather than the illegal, unethical and dangerous practice that it is. Network for Animals were praised by teachers for our inclusion of a strong anti-rabies and heartworm message.
As well as directly bearing influence on the future of the Philippines, the teaching experience is highly valuable to Network For Animals at it helps clarify our suspicions about general trends in the country. Although we are aware that we are stamping out dog meat traders one-by-one, we see that there is still a great deal of work to be done with individual families and their personal approach to dogs. Some illuminating points from our teaching sessions included:
1. More than 90% of families owned dogs, the majority of which we suspect are raising these animals for slaughter, rather than just treating them as pets.
2. When asked if they eat dog meat, most students answered that it is typically served at birthdays or weddings rather than day-to-day, i.e. it is a delicacy rather than a staple food.
3. Although many children were aware of animal cruelty laws existing, most were unaware of any specifics relating to dogs. All were shocked by the images of backstreet slaughterhouses which we showed them.
We believe our teaching sessions represent a great hope in altering the Filipino mindset towards dogs, and aim to repeat and expand our lecture series in the near future.