On April 22nd 2011 in a joint operation between Network for Animals and Malasiqui Police in the Philippines, 43 dogs were seized on their way to slaughter. Before their rescue, these dogs were collected off the streets south of Manila, muzzled with plastic string and sent on the start of their grim journey to restaurants in Baguio City in a cramped, overheated van. Following tips offs and an investigation, NfA and the local police were able to raid the slaughterhouse and halt production. A cursory look at the pictures we obtained at the slaughterhouse show the horrific fate in store for dogs there; unsanitary conditions, rudimentary equipment and inevitable anguish. The dog meat trader responsible for this, who owns a private illegal slaughterhouse for dogs and a storage area for live dogs in the province of Pangasinan, north of Manila, is currently facing prosecution for violations of the Animal Welfare Act and Anti Rabies Act.
Over the years Network for Animals has told many similar stories to this one, often emphasising that while we work tirelessly to rescue dogs from the dog meat trade, the stories do not always have a happy ending. However, on this occasion a rare bond was formed between some of the police officers working on the case and one of the seized dogs. The dog, now named Vilma, was adopted by an associate of the police officers and was successfully re-homed in a supportive family environment. The NfA representative in Manila, Mel Alipio, writes about his visit to Vilma’s adopted home, “…[the owner] has a family with three children, he has a house within his two and a half hectares of land planted with various fruit trees such as mangoes, star apples, guavas and other local oriental fruit-bearing trees. Yesterday I took photos of the dog playing with the children. While they were playing with the dog he was happily licking the face of the young children…”
We feel it’s important to celebrate every success story in our campaign against the dog meat trade in the Philippines. Vilma’s peaceful new life with a loving family is something we want to see more of and we will continue to rescue as many dogs as is possible to ensure we can continue telling stories like this.