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Doggie Day Fair 2

On the cost of Animal Cruelty

This post was filed under Animal Cruelty, Animal Welfare.

I’ve been meaning to blog this since the news broke out, but I just didn’t have the time. Anyway, you guys might have heard of the conviction of a man who shot a Labrador Retriever named Aimee? I actually heard about it first on the evening news.

You see, I honestly have mixed feelings about it. I’m happy that the man was penalized for doing such a horrible act on a friendly creature (based on the account, the dog was in a cage when he shot it, so it was pretty much defenseless), but also a bit disappointment with his sentence. He needs to pay the court Php5,000 (approximately US$120) and the complainant Php15,238 (about US$365) for damages. If he fails to pay the fine, he faces jail time.

I honestly do not know the financial status of Carlos Gozum (the man who shot the dog), but in my opinion, a Php20,238 fine is too small a fine. Ok, you could probably add the stress of the court hearings and prospect of jail for three years (though the complainant went through the same, and more). But the thing is, the penalty was a mere pittance for the suffering the dog and her family went through.

I guess what bothers me the most was how little the “cost” of animal cruelty was in the court of law. You shoot a dog, you get fined Php5k plus damages to the complainant. Such a fine is something that you can more or less get out of. It’s not really “high enough” that would-be dog-shooters can think twice before acting on it. Now, if the penalty alone was Php500,000++ or even Php100,000 — it would certainly be a different story.

On the brighter side, Carlos Gozum was convicted — a court actually sentenced him with a penalty of a fine or face jail time. Recognizing animal cruelty here in the Philippines as punishable by law and actually upholding it is a welcome change for the creatures who cannot fight for their right to live on their own. It’s still a victory for animals, albeit disappointingly small. As I say, baby steps.

On the even brighter side, Aimee the Labrador survived the shot. She is now living happily with her family.

I guess I’m just really affected by this since my family had owned a very loyal Labrador until Ondoy. His name was Coal. He looked “scary” (he was huge, muscular, and all black), but he was as gentle as a kitten (he was actually very friendly with the neighborhood cats unlike our other dogs). We loved Coal, especially my dad. I think I can speak for our family and say that Coal was worth more than any amount — he and the love he gave us were priceless.

Kudos to Renato Tuazon and his family (with the help of the Philippine Animal Welfare Society) for their battle in court for Aimee. It’s not financially easy to sustain a case for three years, not to mention the stress and the emotional strain of court battle and the pain of seeing such a lovable creature suffer. But they still persevered and saw through the case. What’s more, they went through all that for their dog.

I see this case of Aimee as a paradox of animal cruelty here in the Philippines. On one hand, you have Carlos Gozum, the man who shot a puppy helpless inside a cage; and a measly penalty of Php5,000 plus damages. On the other, you have the Tuazon family who fought a long 3-year battle in court and winning the case. A bittersweet victory, but a victory nonetheless.

I’m hoping that this case will show light to other ongoing animal cruelty cases here in the Philippines. Maybe there will come a time when the penalty will be greater. But for now, we can settle for the loud and clear message the outcome of this case tells would-be animal abusers: you can get charged for animal cruelty in the Philippines.


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  • camille

    How horrible a pet friendly defendless labrador retrevier named Amiee?The man that don’t care how she suffer after he shot him inside a cage I’m so disappointment about the dog
    R.I.P Aimee.

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