Gwapo: A call for animal justice
Four-month-old “Gwapo” normally let out a tiny bark and wagged his little dog tail in excitement each time he saw his owners.
But cruelty suffered at the hands of a drunk man changed all that for the mutt who barely stood one foot and 16 inches tall.
The black-and-brown mongrel lost his fight for survival on December 4, almost two weeks after being confined at a veterinary clinic in Lapu-Lapu City.
Gwapo, who was in critical condition since November 23, fought hard for his life after he was stabbed with a screwdriver while tied in front of his owner’s house in Barangay Lipata, Minglanilla.
The screwdriver went all the way through his head and into his neck and damaged part of the puppy’s brain and his right eye.
“December 4, 2018 at 11:30 p.m., after 11 days in the clinic our little warrior ended his fight. We are all hurting & very angry right now! Why did an innocent soul suffer unimaginable pain in the hands of a heartless, vile, human beast,” said a group of animal rescue volunteers called Saving Strays Cebu in a Facebook post last Thursday.
It was the group that came to the aid of Gwapo after his owner, Medy Deiparine, posted about the dog’s condition on Facebook last November.
“My name was tagged in the post so nag-network dayon ko og (so I gathered my network to get) help for medical assistance,” said Saving Strays Cebu founder Gretel Eleazar.
Gwapo was first brought to a veterinary clinic in Minglanilla but was later transferred to the Lapu-Lapu City animal facility due to complications arising from the damage to his eye and the right side of his brain.
“We all wanted a happy ending for the little boy who deserved love [and] not suffering! We saw how he thrived to survive, his tiny body fought so hard! He tried and we all did everything for him,” the Saving Strays’ post added.
Animal Welfare Act
Beyond their grief for the loss of the puppy, Eleazar now appeals for help from the legal community for any lawyer willing to take on the case against Deiparine’s 25-year-old nephew responsible for the death of Gwapo.
“We are really looking for a lawyer who can help,” said Eleazar explaining that since Saving Strays Cebu had yet to register as an organization, it currently relies solely on donations for medical assistance.
The suspect, Carmelo Joseph Briones, posted on Facebook that he did not intend to cause any harm on the dog and only stabbed Gwapo because he was drunk and upset that his mother was in the hospital.
Briones, in a meeting with Deiparine at Lipata Barangay Hall, begged for forgiveness from his aunt saying that he regretted the incident.
“I told Medy (Deiparine) that if you let this pass, next time your nephew’s violence will be directed towards you if he gets angry again,” Eleazar said in Cebuano.
“If we let this go, people will just say that it’s okay because whatever you do it will go unpunished,” she added.
Eleazar pointed out that violence is not selective and regardless of whether the aggrieved is a human being or an animal, it should be stopped and punished.
“We know that those who are able to hurt animals are very much capable of hurting people, too. What if it was a child who was in the place when he was enraged? Are we just going to wait that he will finally hurt a person before we take action?” she asked.
The Philippines also has a standing law that punishes people who hurt animals.
Republic Act 8485 or the Animal Welfare Act of 1998 imposes a jail time of 6 months to 2 years or a fine of P1,000 to P5,000 or both on a person who is convicted of torturing or inflicting harm to an animal.
“It shall be unlawful for any person to torture any animal, to neglect to provide adequate care, sustenance or shelter, or maltreat any animals or to subject any dog or horse to dogfights or horse fights, kill or cause or procure to be tortured or deprived of adequate care sustenance or shelter, or maltreat or use the same in research or experiments not expressly authorized by the Committee on Animal welfare,” Sec. 6 of the Animal Welfare Act reads.
Unfortunately, the law does not have enough teeth as only a few people in the Philippines really care for animal welfare, said Eleazar.
There is also a notable absence of local authorities who are committed to suppress injustices committed against animals.
“Here in Cebu, we don’t even have an Animal Welfare Desk. There is PAWS (Philippine Animal Welfare Society) but it’s in Luzon,” Eleazar said.
“We are now in the new world. We are no longer barbaric people. The world is advocating for a better way of living not only for humans but also with the way we treat nature and animals because they are also alive,” the animal welfare advocate pointed out.
We are looking forward to a better life, a better society, a better community. We already have a law on this — the animal welfare law. We just have to implement this,” she added.
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