Move to reinstate tailpipe gassing in the Philippines

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, May 2011:
MANILA–A tambucho, in Philippine slang, is either a
vehicular exhaust pipe or the human rectal orifice.
If dogs impounded by Philippine animal control agencies are
killed by tambucho gassing, the remains of the dogs may be
clandestinely sold for meat. If dogs are killed by pentobarbital
injection, the remains are considered unsafe for consumption.
Though not acknowledged on the record, the common Philippine
practice of dogcatchers doubling as dog meat dealers may underlie
recent action by the misleadingly named national Committee on Animal
Welfare to undo an August 24, 2010 decision to prohibit tambucho

Although humane societies have representation on the
Committee on Animal Welfare, it is numerically dominated by
representatives of animal use industries. On April 12, 2011 the
Committee on Animal Welfare quietly convened a public consultation
hearing on animal control killing policy, then voted to reinstate
tambucho gassing.
“The public consultation hearing was kept secret from the
animal welfare groups,” e-mailed Nancy Cu Unjieng of Compassion &
Responsibility for Animals to ANIMAL PEOPLE. “Not one animal group
received an invite,” Cu Unjieng sent. “It was only through text
messages and e-mails that we got the news. Only the Philippine
Animal Welfare Society and the National Meat Inspection Services
opposed the provision that allows the use of engine exhaust. All
other voting organizations favored it. CARA, the Animal Kingdom
Foundation, PAWS and PETA stated our strong opposition, and
insisted that the August 24 decision should be upheld.
Unfortunately,” Cu Unjieng wrote, “the proponents of tambucho
gassing all insisted that if we remove engine exhaust we are leaving
the government veterinarians with no other options.”
Agreed Philippine Animal Welfare Society executive director
Anna Hashim-Cabrera, “The meeting was obviously manipulated so that
more of the pro-gassing veterinarians would be there. None of those
who voted [against tambucho gassing in August 2010] were informed
that there was going to be a re-vote. The only reason PAWS was at
the meeting was that we were informed that this was going to be a
public consultation, and brought along the other animal welfare
groups who did not get any notice.”
About 331,000 dogs per year are killed by tambucho gassing,
Hashim-Cabrera told ANIMAL PEOPLE, typically in “improvised gas
chambers using exhaust fumes from whatever type of government vehicle
is available.” Struggling to escape, the dogs often take as long as
10 minutes to die, according to videotapes of the procedure
obtained by PAWS, other animal advocates, and news media.
Contrary to the claim that animal control agencies have “no
other options,” there is nothing in the Philippine Dangerous Drugs
Act of 1972, Republic Act #6425, which prevents government
veterinarians from using sodium pentobarbital in exactly the same
manner as the government vets of the U.S., Europe, and several
other Asian nations.
At the April 12 Committee on Animal Welfare meeting, wrote
Neal Cruz of thePhilippine Daily Inquirer, “Hercules Baldos of the
Philippine Veterinary Medical Association warned the other members
not to speak to media, waving a copy of my earlier column on
tambucho-killing, saying that I was fed the wrong information that
fumes from diesel-powered engines would be used instead of from
gasoline-powered engines, in tambucho-killing. Whether the fumes
come from diesel-powered or gasoline-powered engines, it is the same
banana,” Cruz continued. “The torture and pain and suffering of the
dogs are the same. And it still should be banned, even if the fumes
come from a presidential Porsche. The mystery is why some members of
an animal welfare committee want to use a very cruel method of
euthanasia when there is a barbiturate that puts the dogs to sleep
painlessly. This is what veterinarians use to euthanize the pets of
their private clients. Why use a different method for stray dogs?”
Acknowledged Baldos, in a rambling 2,386 word response to
ANIMAL PEOPLE which also included discussion of his coffee-drinking
habits, his family history, and the beheading of British queen Anne
Boleyn in 1536, “I was officially endorsed to represent the
Philippine Veterinary Medical Association in the CAW public
consultation. I did vote, following my personal judgment, for the
retention of the Administrative Order #13 provision 6.2(a), which
states that ‘Carbon monoxide produced by any gasoline powered engine
or commercially compresssed carbon monoxide may be used.'”
Baldos indicated that he cast his vote as he did because
Philippine animal control agencies “built their gas chambers based on
the agreed and recommended provision” adopted in 1999, which allowed
tambucho gassing.
However, Baldos insisted, “I did not recommend the use of
vehicle fumes to kill dogs,” and called his own vote “rather absurd
and irrelevant because the PVMA which I represented has not decided
on the issue yet. I am now withdrawing my vote,” Baldos said, “and
so my beloved PVMA, with all honest intention, abstained from

Vets wanted phase-out time

Baldos contended that tambucho gassing was put to a Committee
on Animal Welfare re-vote after Animal Welfare Coalition chief
executive Ramona Consunji proposed that it be gradually phased out
instead of being banned abruptly. Consunji said that she had been
asked to propose a gradual phase-out by the Provincial, City, &
Municipal Veterinarians League of the Philippines.
The Animal Welfare Coalition, founded in 2006, is an
umbrella for a variety of animal-related organizations in the Manila
area. It has worked with the Humane Society International arm of the
Humane Society of the U.S. and the International Fund for Animal
Welfare on various projects. AWC is not a voting member of the
Committee on Animal Welfare. The AWC web site advertises opposition
to both carbon monoxide gassing and the consumpton of dog meat.
“At the April 12, 2011 discussion,” Ramona Consunji
confirmed to ANIMAL PEOPLE, “I shared the recommendation of the
local government veterinarians. The majority present at the One
Health Summit on March 25, 2011,” Consunji said, “agreed to remove
the use of vehicle engine exhaust, provided that they be allowed a
phase-out or transition period.”
Cu Unjieng and Hashim-Cabrera told ANIMAL PEOPLE that
Consunji’s account of the One Health Summit outcome was refuted at
the April 12 Committee on Animal Welfare meeting by Arwinnie Serrano,
DVM, after which Consunji left the CAW meeting.
On April 12, said Consunji, “A veterinarian from a
government agency recommended to remove the use of vehicle engine
exhaust, but asked to retain the use of commercially compressed gas.
If I remember correctly, the majority were amenable to this motion.
Unfortunately an animal welfare organization disagreed and
recommended that the entire carbon monoxide provision be removed with
no transition period. As expected, the majority did not agree.”
Baldos confirmed Consunji’s mention that the Committee on
Animal Welfare considered the option of abolishing tambucho gassing
while allowing the use of cooled, filtered, bottled carbon
monoxide. But this was not the option that CAW eventually approved,
including Baldos until he rescinded his vote. Since pentobarbital
euthanasia solution is already widely used and available in the
Philippines, and since the technology needed to produce cooled,
filtered, bottled carbon monoxide is essentially the same as the
technology used to bottle cooking and welding gases, the reason for
the professed need of the government veterinarians for time to phase
out tambucho gassing is unclear.
Whether the Committee on Animal Welfare vote on April 12 will
actually revoke the August 24, 2010 decision to ban tambucho gassing
is unclear.
“I was able to have a phone conversation with Agriculture
Secretary Proceso J. Alcala,” Hashim-Cabrera told ANIMAL PEOPLE,
“and I think we can be assured that he will not sign any paper on
this easily. I called the other Committee on Animal Welfare members
who voted for the deletion of gassing,” but were excluded from the
April 12 meeting. “We are requesting the Committee on Animal Welfare
to uphold the deletion of tambucho killing, as voted by the majority
of CAW members last August.”
Meanwhile the Philippine Information Agency on April 5, 2011
pointed out another reason to discourage the sale of the remains of
impounded dogs for human consumption. On March 12, 2011, at
Barangay, Bagawines, Vallehermoso, said provincial rabies
coordinator Mardonio Nadela, a man was bitten by a suspected rabid
dog. The dog was impounded, but instead of either being quarantined
for observation of symptoms or being decapitated for examination of
brain tissue, the dog was “slaughtered for a meal with alcoholic
drinks.” The bite victim died, after which 50 more people who
participated in consuming the dog received post-exposure rabies

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