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Press Release - Poe pushes for animal welfare programs in barangays

Sen. Grace Poe said barangays should be equipped with animal welfare programs to allow them to act effectively against cruelty incidents.

"An important question to ask is whether we have sufficient animal welfare programs in place and whether our communities—especially in rural areas—have adequate access to quality veterinary healthcare services," she said

"As first responders to animals in need, it's imperative that barangay personnel are guided by policies and have the wherewithal to act," Poe added during the hearing on her Senate Bill No. 2458 seeking to strengthen the Animal Welfare Act.

On the national level, Poe said the responsibility of ensuring animal welfare falls under the purview of the Bureau of Animal Industry or BAI, a staff bureau of the Department of Agriculture (DA).

Under Republic Act 7160 or the Local Government Code, she noted that the delivery of veterinary services to the communities has been devolved to local government units. However, the Local Government Code mandates that only provinces and cities should have their own veterinarian officer.

"Hence, there is a reported shortage of veterinary personnel in smaller municipalities. And even cities that have veterinarians have to contend with inadequate resources," Poe said.

"Ideally, the Department of Agriculture should be able to train and deputize animal welfare enforcement officers from the communities, the police for law enforcement, and members of animal welfare organizations such as those present here today, so that issues can be immediately taken cared of at the barangay level, in an effective but humane manner," she added.

Poe's bill will strengthen the DA in addressing animal welfare issues through a bureau that will be given sufficient budget and permanent personnel.

The measure aims to establish standards geared towards engendering responsible pet ownership, as well as ethical behavior and accountability from all those who have control over or provide care to animals.

The senator lamented that many animals are neglected, abandoned or starved to death in animal pounds, or fall victim to animal cruelty.

Meanwhile, irresponsible owners have permitted their unvaccinated pets to