(The Philippine Star) Updated November 13, 2010

MANILA, Philippines – It was a fun-filled event for both the two- and four-legged attendees at the World Animal Day (WAD) celebration held recently at the SM Mall of Asia Music Hall.

While their owners enjoyed a star-studded concert participated by top recording artists and bands, pets experienced a day of pampering at the Pet Express massage & grooming booth. The fur babies also barked up a storm playing fun games like Sit, Spot, Sit and the canine relay with celebrity animal lovers Patricia Hizon and Marco Manalac. 

Animal welfare groups came together to show solidarity in their campaign to improve the conditions of the animals in the Philippines. 

Mall-goers got a chance to learn more about the different NGOs from the exhibit and booths mounted by Animal Kingdom Foundation (AKF), Compassion and Responsibility Towards Animals (CARA), Palawan Animal Welfare Association, Earth Island Institute, WWF-Philippines, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) Asia Pacific, Feathered Friends Foundation, PSPCA, Strike Animal Welfare Society, Bureau of Animal Industry and the Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS). 

PAWS also inducted its first batch of PAWS Junior Cadets, a program with a goal to empower kids ages 13 years old and below to become ambassadors for animals in their homes, schools, and communities.

According to PAWS director Rich Ilustre, “The PAWS Junior Cadets program aims to promote an attitude of kindness to all living creatures among interested children and encourage them to teach the importance of being kind to animals. With this program, we hope to create a greater impact in the lives of future generations of children and animals.”

Another highlight of the afternoon show was the unveiling of “Tama Na,” a sculpture created by artist Seb Chua showing a dog with its paw against the door of a tambucho-gassing chamber. 

A few months before, PAWS, CARA & AKF led other animal advocates to successfully lobby for the deletion of tambucho-gassing among the accepted and legal methods of killing unclaimed stray dogs.

Seb Chua said that the artwork symbolizes the animals’ appeal to be treated humanely. 

World Animal Day Philippine ambassador and PAWS program director Anna Cabrera reiterated that the message of condemnation of cruelty was just as relevant during World Animal Day as the celebration.  “It is our responsibility not to cause suffering to animals especially in the way that we end the lives of unclaimed stray dogs.” 

The lack of budget for euthanasia drugs as well as the absence of government-subsidized spay-neuter programs are issues that need to be addressed, said Luis Buenaflor of Animal Kingdom Foundation. 

Nancy Cu-Unjieng of CARA added that pet owners must consider the spay and neuter of dogs and cats as part of responsible pet ownership. 

Earth Island Institute and PAWS, in partnership with SM Cinemas, also held a special screening of the Academy award-winning documentary The Cove at the SM Director’s Club to highlight the growing problem of drive fisheries.

The 2010 World Animal Day celebration was made possible through the generous support of SM Mall of Asia, Alpo & Friskies. Other sponsors were Merial Philippines, Frontline Plus, Pet Express, McDonald’s, The Picture Company, By Nature Handmade Soaps, SM Cinema, Subway, Human Nature, Krispy Kreme. Magic 89.9, Mypetchannel.tv and The Philippine STAR Pet Life Section.