Surigao pet owners warned not to let their pets on the loose

SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews / 26 March) – The City Veterinary Office here has warned pet owners not to let their pets on the loose, saying these will be caught with stiffer penalties imposed.

Dr. Maridel L. Zerda, agriculturist at the Surigao City Veterinary Office, said city officials have strengthened its efforts against the rising number of animal bites in the city.

She said under a new city ordinance, all 54 barangays have to set up rabies prevention and control committees. The new ordinance, she pointed out, requires that pet owners must register their pets at their respective barangay, who will then administer vaccination.

Zerda said her office is still conducting an orientation of the new ordinance in different villages, which is scheduled to conclude in the first week of April.

She said they also intend to train barangay tanods as dog catchers.

“Stray dogs that will be caught will be brought to the barangay for two days. If found out that the dog has not been registered and has not undergone anti-rabies vaccination, the pet owner will be fined P2,000 plus P30 per day for the food,” she said

She said if the pet is registered, the owner will pay P200 for impounding fee and P30 per day for the pet’s food. Fines for the second and third violators will be higher, Zerda stressed.

She said pet owners are given five days to redeem their dogs.

“If pet owners fail to get them, they will be subject for adoption,” she said.

Zerda said if no one would adopt a certain pet, her office will be forced to put out the pet, and its head will be cut off to be sent to the Regional Rabies Diagnostic Laboratory.

She said that in the previous year, only personnel of the City Veterinary Office caught the dogs in different villages. But it was difficult for them because they lacked man power, coupled with budgetary constraints.

Zerda said that with the new ordinance, the barangays will have a 30-percent share from the pet registration and anti-rabies vaccination, wherein P100 will be collected from the pet owners.

The Surigao City Health Office recorded a total of 1,510 animal bites in 2013, 1,210 of which from dogs.

The CHO does not have statistics on the number of animal bites in 2014, although four persons died due to rabies.