“Ako na lang ang ikulong nila (They might as well put me behind bars),” she says defiantly of Ordinance No. 13, S-97, that “bans the (ownership) of animals in settlement or resettlement areas.” The law was passed in 1997 by the City Council of Marikina City.
Romero, who has been living in the city’s resettlement area since 1994, had to surrender one of her dogs recently when it bit a neighbor who lives just a few meters away. But the elderly laundrywoman still keeps three dogs and a couple of cats in the 24-square-meter house that she shares with a son.
Nobody can take the remaining animals from her, she vows in a virtual declaration of war on the city government, a sentiment shared by her other pet-owning neighbors.
According to officials implementing the ordinance, keeping pets in a small cramped space where relocated residents live would be unhealthy. The residents were informal settlers living on the banks of the Marikina River who were resettled by then Marikina mayor Bayani Fernando in pocket-sized houses just big enough for a toilet and bath.
Complaints about the law have reached the City Veterinarian’s Office (CVO), says city vet Dr. Manuel “Bobot” Carlos. Similar complaints about seized animals that pet owners are no longer allowed to retrieve have also flooded the office of the Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), he adds.