After 10 years, canines used for cruel dogfights get justice

April 22, 2017 - 9:39 AM
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Buddy and Midnight, seen here with their horrific wounds from a staged dogfight, after their rescue by PAWS 10 years ago. PHOTO COURTESY OF PHIL. ANIMAL WELFARE SOCIETY

MANILA, Philippines – Buddy and Midnight did not live to see the victory of the legal battle against their abusers.

Ten years after a hard-fought case, a local court in Antipolo finally issued a decision finding two men guilty of animal cruelty for staging a dog fight in March 2007.

After their rescue, the two pit bulls were adopted and lived happy lives.  They died a natural death two years ago, according to Anna Cabrera, executive director of the Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS).

On April 18, Antipolo Municipal Trial Court Branch 1 Judge Barry Boy Salvador handed down the court’s ruling finding Danny Sy Tan and Allan Lim-it “guilty beyond reasonable doubt” for violation of Section 6 (in relation to Section 8) of Republic Act No. 8485 of the Animal Welfare Act of 1998.

Section 6 states that “it shall be unlawful for any person to torture any animal, to neglect to provide adequate care, 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.”

“After a conscientious evaluation of the evidence presented, the court finds both the accused Danny Sy Tan and Allan Lim-it guilty beyond reasonable doubt,” the ruling said.

“The testimonies of the witnesses for the prosecution are credible and convincing.  The prosecution established that the accused conspired in subjecting the dogs to a dogfight,” it added.

However, the two men were sentenced to pay only P5,000 each.

The penalty has since been raised to between P30,000 to P100,000 with imprisonment of up to one year when the law was amended in 2013.  The amended law, however, could not be retroactively imposed on the crime, which was committed in 2007.

An alias warrant of arrest was issued for four other accused — Kittiya Boonyang, Timothy Dharmajiva, Phanuwat Nunthawat and Juliet de Leon – who have remained in hiding.

“After 10 long years, we finally got it,” Cabrera, who stood as one of the witnesses in the case.

Cabrera received a tip about the dog fight, which will pit two champion dogs.  Midnight was from the Philippines, while Buddy was flown in from Thailand.

She contacted the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, which conducted the raid.  She joined the raid and was able to identify Tan and Lim-it.

“The many years of waiting happens for all crimes. When you’re up against someone who can pay lawyers, they will really fight it out with any possible legal means,” she added.

The case was handled by at least three judges over the period of 10 years, Cabrera said.

“It took us a long time, but I’m glad our efforts paid off.  It sends across the message to animal offenders that animal cruelty is a crime and that we will stop at nothing to make them answer for their wrongdoings,” she said.