While attention in the UK shifts to our work campaigning against the badger cull, our team in the Philippines work tirelessly to try and end the illegal trade in dog meat.
Campaigns of this nature are often long-running and positive legislative developments, while being a fundamental step forward, are only as good as the enforcement underpinning them. However, recent events offer hope as we open up a new front against the dog meat traders. Following years of rescuing terrified dogs in transit to appalling slaughterhouses, in 2011 we started looking at tackling the dog meat trade at the market end of the supply chain in the heart of the dog meat eating region – the restaurants of Baguio City.
In conjunction with local police, we have begun the task of surveillance, evidence collection and, if successful, the arrest and arraignment of the restaurant owner. This process is not without difficulty, however. Costs are high and evidence collection can be compromised by suspicious restaurant staff. Nevertheless we are slowly but surely working our way through all the local restaurants and have also asked the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to pull the business permits of the restaurants, a simple task that could reduce the strain of legal proceedings and see a swift end to the sale of dog meat.
Creating strong partnerships with community leaders, celebrities and key political players is fundamental to our success in eradicating the dog meat trade. In addition to working with national and local government, we partner with the Philippines National Police, the wildlife investigation unit of the National Bureau of Investigation and politicians as high as up as the vice-president to strengthen our work in the region.
We have worked in the Philippines for over a decade building relationships and conducting extensive research into the structure of the dog meat trade. New avenues to explore are constantly emerging, so this year we began investigating the sale of dog meat in Korean restaurants in Makati, Manila. We also began laying groundwork for surveillance and raids in Laguna province, in addition to conducting research in Palawan, where the commercialised dog meat trade is thought to be in its infancy. These new leads demonstrate that we remain committed to tackling the dog meat trade using a multi-faceted and varied approach.
Until we see an end to this cruel and brutal industry, we will remain at hand to give a voice to the voiceless and protect animals from harm.