Pound electrocutions stopped in Manila

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, July/August 2005:

MANILA–Seeking a cheaper, faster way to kill dogs than
either lethal injection or use of an antiquated carbon monoxide
chamber, Manila Veterinary Inspection Board members Manuel Socorro
and Condenio Panogan reportedly electrocuted approximately 100 dogs
from mid-May 2005 to mid-July before word of their work leaked out.
“Socorro “said they were given a one-year permit by the
Bureau of Animal Industry to conduct a study of electrocution as a
tool to put down dogs,” wrote Evelyn Macairan of The Philippine Star.
“This involved conducting a series of tests wherein the voltage would
be set starting at 100 volts and be slowly raised to 500 volts.”
Four days after Philippine Animal Welfare Society volunteer
and veterinary student Emil Reban witnessed some of the
electrocutions and described what he saw, the Bureau of Animal
Industries’ Committee on Animal Welfare revoked the permit
“immediately and indefinitely upon hearing PAWS president Nita
Lichauco’s petition to cancel it,” e-mailed PAWS member Ramona
Eliza T. Consunji on July 11.

“There was also the majority decision never to grant another
permit for electrocution, whether as an experiment or as a solution
to control overpopulation of any animal,” Consunji added. “The city
mayor of Manila informed PAWS through his son, former councilor Kim
Atienza, that they will now use lethal injection for euthanasia.”
Reban testified that dogs were pinned in varying positions by
the steel roof of the electrocution cage, and were shocked with 300
volts for three seconds, but mostly survived in pain until shocked a
second time. As many as 10 other dogs witnessed each electrocution
while awaiting their own deaths.
Receiving Reban’s report on July 8 from PAWS volunteer Anna
Nieves Hashim on July 8, ANIMAL PEOPLE immediately forwarded to her
the American Veterinary Medical Association Report on Euthanasia,
which lists electrocution as an unacceptable means of killing dogs
and cats.
ANIMAL PEOPLE pointed out that the Royal SPCA of Great
Britain experimented with electrocuting animals from approximately
1885 until about 1928, before concluding it could never be considered
humane by British standards.
The RSPCA exported their six electrocution machines to India
during a rabies panic circa 1930. Dogs were legally electrocuted in
several cities of India until the last of the RSPCA machines known
to remain there was dismantled in 1997. Some of the RSPCA machines
may still be used in Pakistan, which was still part of India when
they arrived.
Dogs continued to be electrocuted with a makeshift device in
the city of Visakhapatnam until 1998, when Visakha SPCA founder
Pradeep Kumar Nath and Help In Suffering trustee Christine Townend
stopped it.
“Electrocuting dogs is the cruelest way of killing them,”
Nath e-mailed to PAWS, offering his help. We secretly videotaped
the procedure to show to the world and got a court order stopping it.
We have now shown that the proper alternative to dog over population
is animal birth control.”
PAWS incorporated the ANIMAL PEOPLE and Visakha SPCA
statements into their own brief against the electrocutions.
Manila mayor Lito Atienza said he had not been aware that the
city pound was using any method other than lethal injection to kill
dogs.
The electrocutions started at approximately the same time
that Manila hosted an event called “Dog Walk for a Cause,” trying
to beat the Guinness record for the most dogs ever assembled and to
promote awareness about preventing cruelty to animals.
The event attracted 7,469 dogs to five-kilometre walks in
Manila and 23 other designated areas, easily beating the British
record of 5,017 dogs, set in 2004.
Dogs are still routinely electrocuted in several other
nations, including in parts of Mexico, where encouraging a
transition to lethal injection was part of Sean Hawkins’ work with
the Spay/Neuter Assistance Program missions south of the border, and
will continue through his new organization, Saving Animals Across
Borders. (Page 16.)
Hawkins’ preferred alternative, like Nath’s, is high-volume
sterilization to keep dog overpopulation from becoming a problem in
the first place.
Manila presently has no high-volume low-cost sterilization program.

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