PETA Asia representatives were recently invited to a school in Manila to celebrate the feast of St. Francis of Assisi—the patron saint of animals—as well as the anniversary of the school’s founding. We saw this event as a fantastic opportunity to speak to students about animal welfare in the Philippines as well as encourage them to adopt a compassionate lifestyle. However, we had barely set up our table when we noticed children—many of them under 10 years old—holding clear plastic cups lined with hay, each containing at least one tiny, shivering baby mouse. Some of these cups held two or three mice, who had to scramble over each other in order to move. The more we looked around, the more cups we saw—and then we noticed the ducklings.
A group of four boys was sitting on the concrete steps, facing the school grounds in a circle. They were picking up, throwing and dropping the scared ducklings, who were frantically trying to escape the shoebox into which they had been crammed. I spoke to one of the young boys, who told me that breeders were selling animals on campus. This particular boy had bought four ducks for 20 pesos each and two mice for 15 pesos each. When I asked him why he wanted so many animals, he replied, “Because my parents want me to be an animal lover.”
As wonderful as it is to hear young children express their love for animals, the sale of animals to children, likely without parental consent, is irresponsible. The event organizers admitted that they had invited the breeders merely to showcase animals for educational purposes in honor of St. Francis. The breeders were not permitted to sell animals to the school children. Fortunately, when we informed the school representatives that the breeders had disregarded their wishes, they wasted no time in having them removed.
The overpopulation of companion animals is a pervasive issue in the Philippines. Every day, we see stray cats who are forced to scavenge for food and chained dogs sleeping in the streets with no shelter. Buying animals from breeders or pet stores only contributes to this overpopulation. If you wish to welcome a companion animal into your home, adopt from your local shelter. However, the decision to do so should be considered carefully. Guardians who fail to consider the effort and commitment required to care for a companion animal often abandon them when they lose interest, thereby adding to the animal-homelessness crisis. It is also vitally important to remember to spay and neuter your companion animal in order to prevent more animals from being born!
Post written by intern Persis Eskander