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Shelter built to keep stray pets, promote responsible ownership

By Edna Bagadiong

VIRAC, Catanduanes --- The municipal government of Virac has inaugurated what it claims is the first animal shelter and welfare education center in the island province of Catanduanes.

The management of Virac Animal Shelter, which will open once its registration is approved by the Bureau of Animal Industry and its crews have completed training on their duties and responsibilities, vows to be a steadfast advocate for animals, in part by promoting the rescue and adoption of stray dogs and cats.

Pet ownership is a growing trend in Catanduanes. The island province is currently home to around 16,500 pet dogs, about 3,400 of which are in the capital town of Virac, according to the Office of the Provincial Veterinarian.

However, the uptick in pet ownership has also resulted in an increasing number of stray animals, mostly due to abandonment and unchecked reproduction.

Volunteers of the Animal and Human Wellness Society attend the inauguration of the local government-operated animal shelter on February 22, 2024. (EABagadiong)

Virac Mayor Samuel Laynes said he initiated the establishment of the animal shelter to regulate stray animals that can cause vehicular accidents, as well as sanitation and health problems.

According to the Virac Municipal Police Station, the increase in dog numbers poses significant problems with 150 motorcycle accidents every month in 2022 on average, resulting in injuries like head fractures.

The Eastern Bicol Medical Center’s Animal Bite Center in Catanduanes reported 2,872 cases of dog bites in 2021, and 2,203 cases from January to August 2023.

Catanduanes is one of the eight provinces declared “rabies-free” by the Department of Health.

“To encourage the harmonious living of animals and humans, a policy of responsible pet ownership must be upheld,” Laynes said.

Pet owner Lovely Bagadiong from Barangay Balite in Virac commended the efforts of the municipal government in promoting responsible pet ownership.

“Taking care of pets, such as dogs and cats, can ease feelings of loneliness and provide mental health benefits that include reduced stress, anxiety, and depression,” she said. (PIA 5/Catanduanes)


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