MANILA - To welcome the upcoming Chinese Lunar New Year of the Dog, the animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals on Sunday urged Filipinos to adopt a dog.
On Monday, members of the welfare group will take to the streets of Manila's Chinatown Binondo brandishing signs that read "Happy Year of the Dog. Adopt, Don't Shop". Binondo is the world's oldest Chinatown.
Jana Sevilla of PETA said that Monday's event is to encourage tourists and shoppers to adopt dogs from the local shelter or rescue groups instead of buying purebreds from pet stores or breeders, "which simply serves to exacerbate the homeless-animal crisis".
She said animal homelessness is becoming a serious problem in the Philippines. "The campaign is to help end the problem of animal homelessness," Sevilla said.
"City pounds and shelters are bursting at the seams with special dogs just waiting for their new families to find them and take them home," PETA Vice-President Jason Baker said in a statement.
Indeed, Sevilla said: "Askals, or asong Pinoys (street dogs), are healthier than their purebred counterparts and have wonderfully loyal and loving spirits, which is why PETA encourages everyone who's ready to provide a dog with a lifetime of love and care, to celebrate the Year of the Dog by adopting one."
On the street, Sevilla said homeless animals face starvation, extreme weather, disease, traffic and cruelty.
There is no available statistics on how many dogs or cats are roaming the streets, but Sevilla said: "There are just too many. If you go just outside your house for sure you'll find a homeless cat, or a homeless dog. In more depressed areas in the Philippines, there are so many homeless dogs and also cats."
Sevilla said the street is not the safest place for the animals. "We always get reports of cruelty, a lot of dogs and cats die from starvation or they get run over by vehicles and die a slow and painful death," she said, adding when they get sick they can't get the necessary treatment because they are homeless.
Since the animals don't have any guardians who will care for them, she said these animals "can multiply really, really fast".
"That's why the population of homeless animals keeps on increasing by leaps and bounds," Sevilla said.
Sevilla said adopting dogs and cats is becoming popular in the Philippines. In fact, she said there are now different rescue groups in the country. "Some of the rescue groups are even formed through social media, and then a lot of them find homes for these rescued animals," Sevilla said.