Manila: About 290,000 dogs are butchered and eaten every year, trading of dog meat has reached Peso 174 million (Dh14.5 million) annually, and restaurants that specialise on dog meat thrive because of patronage from local government leaders, challenging lowly-paid law enforcers from implementing the country’s 14-year old law against dog eating, a local paper said.

Despite occasional successes of raids on secret slaughterhouses that trade dog meat, and despite the presence of foreign groups that have accompanied raiding officers, the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) of the Philippine National Police (PNP) could hardly stop the killing of dogs for food, CIDG Director Samuel Pagdilao Jr told the Inquirer.

The best proof of this is the damming data given by Linis Gobyerno Inc, a dog-loving non-government organisation, told the Inquirer.

Illegal trading of dog meat is supported and patronised by local officials, a tough challenge for law enforcers to implement the country’s 1998 Animal Welfare Act, said Pagdilao, who quoted the report of Linis Gobyerno during a meeting with Glyn Ford, a former member of the European Parliament and executive director of Polint.

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The international group has been exerting pressure for the strict enforcement of the Philippines’ law that protects dogs.

Despite the Philippine government’s continuous warning that eating dog could give consumers rabies and other diseases, dog eating has remained rampant, especially in northern Luzon, Pagdilao admitted.

He quoted Linis Gobyerno as saying in its website, “In Baguio City and La Trinidad, Benguet [in northern Luzon], there are around 60 restaurants, eateries and canteens that serve dog meat.”

“These are found all over the city, including the central business district, and are patronised by no less than local politicians, heads of government offices, policemen and even professionals,” the non-government organisation also said.

The 1998 Animal Welfare Act of the Philippines says that only cattle, pigs, goats, sheep, poultry, rabbits, carabaos, horses, deer and crocodiles could be killed for food.

Dogs could be killed only for religious ritual; or when they endanger people; or when it is necessary to control their population, the law adds.

Convicted violators could be imprisoned for six months to two years, and fined at least Peso 1,000 (Dh 83.33).