Illegal Dogmeat Trade Thrives in the Philippines

Law enforcement officials in the Philippines often allow the illegal dog meat trade to go unnoticed.

While eating dogs is illegal in the Philippines, the dog meat trade still exists in some areas. Last fall, an undercover investigator (whose name must be withheld) funded in part by the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) and substantially by the Companion Animal Protection Society, traveled to the village of Baguio, where the trade is most concentrated, with the dangerous goal of uncovering this practice.

To break into the scene, he worked with Linis Gobyerno, a local organization dedicated to ending government corruption, but soon learned it was hard to find anyone he could trust. The investigator obtained information from locals that led him to believe dogs were slaughtered at the Baguio City slaughterhouse—and he was later able to film dog meat in a market. The investigator learned that, despite its illegality, the popularity of the meat within the indigenous population has caused officials to turn a blind eye.

Overcoming hardships such as being told he would have to pay for raids by law enforcement, the investigator continued to reveal dishonest actions. "I interviewed and videotaped government and police officials from Baguio, Tuba and La Trinidad, including city mayors and police chiefs who would either say that dog eating is legal or would admit that it's illegal but tolerated in their area," he said.

While rescuing dogs was not originally part of the plan, the investigator contacted Manila police about the case of dog eatery owner Sonny Comilles, and they eventually conducted a raid in which 50 dogs were saved from the La Trinidad slaughterhouse. Because La Trinidad lacks a dog pound, the dogs were sent to the Baguio City Pound to be held.

"The vet told me that rescued dogs are often put up for auction, where they can go right back to slaughter," the investigator said. After offering money, he finally talked the vet into accepting the emaciated, dehydrated and overcrowded dogs. They were held as evidence, and many were euthanized due to illnesses.

Still, he considers the operation to have been effective. "The documentation of corruption in the Philippines makes for strong evidence," the investigator said. "Despite the unfortunate nature of Linis Gobyerno and the negative turn of events from corrupt officials, the dog meat trade was successfully confirmed." AWI hopes to use this information to work toward ending the dog meat trade in the Philippines.