Ending the
Dog Meat Trade

In 1998 one of our founders witnessed first-hand the horrors of the dog meat trade and the unspeakable cruelty and brutality, to which thousands of defenceless dogs were being subjected.

It was clear that the treatment to 'man's best friend' was so intolerable and should not be experienced by any living creature; at this point there was no option but to become involved in helping to bring an end to this horrific practise.

The first thing we did was to set up a Philippine affiliate, which we named Animal Kingdom Foundation (AKF). In the early days we began by employing 3 investigators and a lawyer, who started working with government to strengthen the laws that surrounded the trade in the Philippines and assisting the police with enforcement and prosecution of dog meat traders.

We quickly realised that catching the traders and saving the dogs was only going to be a part of the mammoth task that we had embarked upon and that more was needed to be done to ensure that the rescued dogs had some sort of future away from the trade.

And so work began on building a Rescue & Rehabilitation Centre and in 2006 the AKF Rescue Centre was opened in Capas, about 2 hours north of Manila, and today it remains the largest rescue and rehabilitation centre in the Philippines with an active rehoming programme, aiming to find new and loving homes for as many dogs as possible.

We also recognised the need for education and so embarked upon an extensive campaign to teach the local people, particularly children, about the evil nature of this trade and encourage them to respect their dogs.

Together we are winning the battle with these wicked traders, but we cannot do it without your help. The Rescue Centre and all of our associated activities relies solely on the funds we raise so please give, even just a small amount, to help give the dogs a future beyond the suffering and inhumanity of the dog meat trade.

The eating of dog meat can be traced back to antiquity in parts of Southeast Asia but within the Philippines is now mainly associated with a male drinking culture in bars and restaurants and is the practice of a small number today. However, it does still go on and no animal's destiny should be to endure such profound suffering.

Many will have seen images of terrified dogs, muzzled with string, their front legs tied behind their shoulders and crammed into cages to be transported hundreds of miles north, where they are then brutally slaughtered and eaten.

The Philippines made the first move to ending this appalling trade in 1982, when eating dog meat was banned in Manila, followed by the Animal Welfare Act of 1998, which protected dogs from being killed for meat throughout the whole country. This began to have an effect on the trade and a further strengthening of the law in 2011, which imposed heavy financial penalties and imprisonment on convicted traders, saw a further reduction in the trade.

Despite all this good work, the result was to drive the trade further underground and we our investigators became aware of traders crudely slaughtering many of the dogs before transporting them in order to make it difficult for the meat to be identified as canine. The positive identification of dog meat requires DNA tracing and this was not available in the Philippines.

After a campaign to raise funds at the end of 2014 we have now purchased the equipment necessary and are training a molecular biologist from the Philippine National Meat Inspection, who will be able to positively identify dog meat, in order that we may successfully prosecute traders.

When we first started out in the Philippines we believe that up to 500,000 dogs were being slaughtered every year, that number today is now below 10,000.

So there is still work to be done and we will continue to work until that number is zero and the future of the Filipino dog is secure.

With the Animal Welfare Act laws now in place in the Philippines, it is illegal to slaughter dogs for meat and if convicted traders face heavy financial penalties and imprisonment.

Yet the dog meat continues to exist in the Philippines, we have seen a huge decrease since the late 90's, but thousands of dogs are still being taken from the streets, many stolen from people's homes, and they are being transported on long journeys in the most horrific conditions imaginable, to be butchered for the dinner table.

Once captured by traders, the dogs are bound by the muzzle with string or tin cans, sometimes with their legs tied behind their shoulders and they are left in holding pens without food or water, in 30 °C heat, for what can be days. Hundreds of dogs at a time are then crammed into trucks, either in cages or under false floors and transported to northern provinces of the Philippines on journeys of 10 hours or more. A huge proportion of these dogs die from suffocation and those that make it are then hit over the head or have their throats cut in make shift slaughter houses.

Our dedicated investigators work with determination and bravery, often risking their own safety, in their efforts to catch these evil traders and rescue the dogs facing intolerable cruelty and death.

Working with the police they are able to execute raids on illegal slaughterhouses, restaurants and markets selling dog meat; they have also been able to seize vehicles transporting dogs for slaughter.

For the dogs that are rescued a brighter future awaits them at the AKF Rescue Centre in Capas. All rescued dogs are immediately treated for any injuries and illness and they are then neutered before entering a period of rehabilitation and socialisation treatment at the Centre. During this time the dogs are able to begin recovering from their horrific ordeal and start to prepare for a future in a new and loving home that we aim to find for as many as possible of them.

The AKF Rescue Centre in Capas was opened in 2006 and remains the largest rehabilitation and rescue centre in the Philippines.

The Centre sits on a peaceful 6 acre site amongst beautiful mango trees and is a dog shelter dedicated to caring for abandoned, neglected and abused dogs rescued from the cruel horrors of the dog meat trade.

The Centre was built to cope with all the requirements that the rescued dogs may need, with a safe, unassisted arrival area, a lone holding pen for any distressed dogs, divided pens for separating male and female dogs or any ferocious or disease stricken dogs. We also have a quarantine, the first and only one of its kind in the Philippines.

The Veterinary Clinic is in the main house and is the principal treatment area, equipped to perform services from spaying, neutering and vaccination to X-Rays and major surgical procedures.

Currently home to approximately 250 dogs, the Centre can house up to 800 dogs with a staff of about 10, including fully trained veterinary staff, kennel mates and a centre manager.

We aim to offer a safe and caring environment in which to welcome and rehabilitate rescued dogs, who often arrive distressed and traumatised having been so horrifically treated in the hands of evil dog meat traders. For many it provides a temporary home from which they find loving new homes but for a few the Rescue Centre will be the place they live out the rest of their lives.

The Centre is fully operated by funds raised by the IWCT in the UK.

Contact

Animal Kingdom Foundation Inc (AKF)
No 8, Purante Street
Barangay Cubcub
Capas
Tarlac, 2315
Philippines
(632) 4355743
afkadvocates@gmail.com

At the AKF Rescue Centre we have an active No Kill policy, whereby no animal is put to sleep unless it is beyond all veterinary care and it is therefore the kindest thing to do.

A core focus of our mission in the Philippines is to see as many of the rescued dogs find loving new families in homes, far from the cruelty that they suffered in the hands of the dog meat traders. To that end we run a full and determined rehoming programme with special Adoption Days being held both within the Centre and at selected locations around the country from our mobile clinic.

We currently see about one third of all dogs rehomed every year through our Adoption Days, but we are keen for this number to increase over the coming 12 months.

Our rehoming process has strict guidelines; all prospective adopters are screened and must meet certain criteria before they are deemed eligible to adopt. This screening includes a home visit to ensure that prospective new owners have suitable accommodation for a dog. Each applicant is interviewed and asked to provide a reference check before signing an agreement with the Centre, which includes a promise to ensure their dog wears an ID tag at all times.

The Centre tries to maintain as much contact with adopters as possible in order that we can follow the progress of the dogs as they settle into their new lives.

Sadly there are always some dogs that are not chosen to be adopted, either they are considered too old or they are not deemed socially capable of living in a home outside of the Centre. For these dogs we offer them the opportunity to live out the rest of their life at the Centre in the most wonderful way they can.

Although all the investigative work and subsequent raids and rescues carried out are vital to preventing the dog meat traders from continuing, we believe that the promotion of animal welfare through education is going to be the key to bringing an end to the trade altogether.

With better education we can develop greater compassion, empathy and respect for animals. It is also vital to educate the Filipino people about the inherent health risks associated with processing and eating dog meat, including the risk of transmitting rabies.

As a result we have embarked upon extensive educational and re-homing programmes in the Philippines.

Askal days

The Askal Club is a community service programme developed by IWCT with the objective of elevating the status of the Filipino dog with the ultimate aim of promoting and improving animal welfare in the Philippines.

The word askal is coined from the two words "asong kalye" meaning "dogs from the street" and refers to the native Philippine mongrel dog.

The Askal Day scheme is an outreach clinic programme whereby AKF staff drive a mobile clinic into local townships, offering free vaccinations, neutering and more general medical check-ups and treatment for all Askal dogs, as well as advice on caring for pets. In addition to helping promote responsible pet ownership and a compassion towards the Filipino dog, these clinics are also helping to curb the problem of overpopulation and the spread of Rabies within the Philippines.

During an average Askal Day we are able to spay and neuter between 15 & 20 dogs and vaccinate and worm approximately 50 dogs.

Seminars

We run educational seminars, both for adults and children, within local townships which allow us an opportunity to speak to the Filipino communities about animal welfare and pet health. By maintaining a dialogue with local people it also allows us the chance to find out about any illegal dog trade activities that may be going on.

We also hold seminars for the Philippine National Police all around the country, attended by high- ranking police officers, which aim to better educate the police about the law that protects dogs and any new legislations surrounding animal welfare and rabies, equipping them with the knowledge and power needed to help catch the illegal dog traders and bring this horribly cruel practice to an end.

The police seminars have also proved successful in building a trust between our investigators and we now see the Philippine National Police instigating their own raids and calling on our Centre to assist with any rescued dogs.

An area that we have recently turned our attention to are the government-run City Dog Pound andthe welfare of the dogs within these pounds.

The law in the Philippines prevents dogs to wander the streets without a lead and so any dogs found roaming, of which there continue to be many, are rounded up by government employed dog catchers and taken to the city dog pounds.

Unfortunately the majority of the city dog pounds leave a lot to be desired. In general they are overcrowded, dirty and what food there is for the dogs is of very poor quality. More significantly, if a dog is not claimed by its owner within 7 days of arriving at the pound it is put to sleep.

As a result we are determined to help improve standards within these dog pounds and in November we visited a Manila city dog pound and met with its general manger, who agreed, with our help, to make some improvements. We have kicked things off by supplying him with some good quality dog food and new food and water bowls.

As part of this agreement we also agreed to take 11 of their dogs back to our Rescue Centre, to receive veterinary treatment and neutering. Following that treatment they then began rehabilitation and socialisation therapy in preparation for rehoming.

Once the dogs are full rehabilitated we will go back to the Manila pound and hold an Adoption day, to which people will be able to bring their pets for free veterinary treatment and neutering.

It will also provide an opportunity for the rehabilitated dogs, who are deemed suitable and ready for adoption, to meet prospective new owners with the ultimate goal of finding them loving new homes.

We hope to be able to extend this Dog Pound Programme into other city pounds and are planning our next visit to Makati City pound in the coming months.

Rabies continues to be a problem for the Philippines and is responsible for between 200 & 300 human deaths every year, with the principal cause being dog bites. We believe that up to 10,000 dogs are still being infected with the Rabies virus each year and in addition to bites the consuming of an infected dog can also transmit the virus to humans.

We are working closely with the Bureau for Animal Industries (BAI) to provide free Rabies vaccination as part of the campaign to eliminate Rabies from the Philippines. We have now vaccinated between 20,000 & 30,000 dogs with the Rabies vaccine and through these efforts have seen the spread of Rabies limited to only two provinces in the Philippines.

This is a video blog taken by Gary Edwards, a supporter of IWCT, who spent some time volunteering at the AKF Rescue Centre in 2011. It’s a great little insight into the Centre, the facilities and of course the resident dogs.

Summary of the MP’s briefing held at the House of Commons on 28th January, calling for an end to the dog meat trade in Southeast Asia, chaired by John McDonnell MP with guest speakers John Hawkridge, Vet & IWCT Chairman of Trustees and Peter Egan, IWCT patron. Attended by MP’s, animal welfare charity representatives and IWCT Patron Dame Judi Dench.

Dame Judi Dench, Ricky Jervais and Downton Abbey stars feature in this harrowing video to support Soi Dog Foundation’s efforts to campaign against the dog meat trade in Thailand.

Two long term residents at the Centre, gentle giant Manny and Peanut, who shows that you don’t need all your legs to work to enjoy a great playtime. Peanut is also one of the fastest runners at the Centre, despite only having 3 functioning legs; sadly no one has yet considered her for adoption but she’s very happy and well loved at the Centre with plenty of friends!