By Evelyn Macairan And Mike Frialde
Source: The Philippine Star 05/09/2005
Manila may have set a new Guinness record for assembling the most number of dogs to walk for a cause, the Philippine Canine Club Inc. (PCCI) said yesterday.
According to PCCI, 7,469 dogs walked for a cause nationwide yesterday morning, of which 3,074 were on Roxas Boulevard in Manila. The previous record of 5,017 dogs was set on June 20, 2004 in England.
Aside from Manila, 23 other areas in the country were designated for the dog walk of five kilometers to promote dog welfare and animal rights.
PCCI president Byron San Pedro announced to the pet owners and dog lovers who gathered around the stage at Plaza Rajah Soliman in Malate that the turnout of the "Luv Ko c Bantay" dog walk for a cause surpassed expectations.
"We passed the two margin requirements. Not only did we reach 7,469 dogs nationwide, but we also met the required distance of five kilometers," San Pedro told The STAR.
PCCI officials said they were surprised by the turnout in Manila where they expected only 1,000 dogs. Baguio City, on the other hand, had the least number with 37.
Aries Jimenez, officer-in-charge of the Manila Tourism and Cultural Affairs Office, said they were overwhelmed by the turnout and that they would collaborate again with PCCI next year for another dog day activity.
Other places that held a dogwalk were Bacolod, Batangas, Bohol, Bukidnon, Bulacan, Cagayan de Oro, Cebu, Davao, Albay, Zamboanga, Quezon, Dumaguete, Tacloban, Iloilo, La Union, Laguna, Olongapo, General Santos, Pampanga, Pangasinan, Tarlac, and Cavite.
The event was eight months in the making. In order to qualify for the Guinness Book of Records, San Pedro said they would still have to submit their documentation evidence such as the number of dog registrants, pictures and actual video footage.
But he admitted the Guinness entry is only incidental and their main focus was to create animal awareness in a country famed for dog meat and dog fights.
"There is an international perception that the Philippines is a dog-eating nation. We want to change that. Hopefully with the magnitude of this event we would be known as a dog-loving nation," he added.
The pet dogs accompanied by their masters assembled at Plaza Rajah Soliman in front of the Malate Church and at 6:30 a.m. began their march toward the Cultural Center of the Philippines. They then walked back toward the Luneta Grandstand and the Manila Hotel before heading to the finish line at Rajah Soliman.
It took them two hours to complete the walk, an they were greeted at the finish line by the PCCI with certificates of attendance.
An assortment of breeds went on promenade, ranging from Labradors and Golden Retrievers, Pitbulls and Rottweilers, Belgian Malenois, Great Danes, Saint Bernard, Siberian Huskies, Dobermans, Boxers and Mastiffs to German Shepherds, Chow-chow, Schnauzers, Dalmatians, Basset Hound, Miniature Pincher, Beagles, Pugs, Chihuahuas, Poodles and even the underrated mongrel.
One of the organizations that probably sent in a considerable delegation was the K-9 Unit of the National Capital Region and Special Action Force (SAF) from the Philippine National Police, which accounted for 35 bomb disposal and drug-sniffing dogs.
Police Officer 2 Gilbert Abarro from the Northern Police District said the dogs came from the canine training center at Puting Bato, Cogeo, Antipolo City.
"These dogs are still in training. As part of our training subject, we have to walk the dogs daily for three to four kilometers, so today’s walk at Roxas Boulevard is not new to them," he said.
Benjie Ilaga, 47, and a resident of BF Homes Parañaque, said they were at the baywalk since early morning so that their black Labrador could participate.
"We did it because it advocated the campaign against cruelty to dogs, and we love dogs," he said adding, adding the Labrador Kofi regularly walks a kilometer to keep fit.
Neth Gonzales, 33, said the red Doberman Oakley would be turning two on May 13, and that to ensure that he would not suffer from heatstroke they lugged along a water spray and several bottles of water.
San Pedro said they anticipated cases such as heatstroke and took precautions by having 20 veterinarians deployed to tents 500 meters apart and setting up water stations all along the baywalk.
In one tent, the PCCI official said, they attended to six dogs who suffered from heatstroke, two of them with nosebleed.
The dog owners also took advantage of the free rabies vaccinations for their pets, samples of dog food and tips on how to better take care of pets.
San Pedro said that next time they would make better preparations, and perhaps hold the dogwalk during a less scorching month to spare their furry friends from the heat.
Jimenez for his part said the Manila government, a co-host of the event, plans to make the dog walk an annual affair.
"We are trying to convince the barangays to participate. We are even encouraging owners of askals (mongrels or street dogs) to join," he said.
The dog walk for a cause was conceptualized by the PCCI as an event to give all dog owners an opportunity to show their concern and protest the senseless cruelty and indiscriminate slaughter of dogs, to increase awareness of responsible pet ownership and the danger of rabies, and claim for the Philippines the record of staging the largest dog walk ever.