Dom-an recognized that these dog walks can diffuse tension, create a climate of harmony and friendship, and at the same time bring to the public awareness on social issues. Pet lovers with a social conscience together with their beloved furry pals create an ambit that is gentle, open and light. Mixing dog walks with flute playing, peace paw printing and peace sign formation can be a lot of fun and at the same time send a clear message to society. Being a victim herself of violence, widowed because of the extra-judicial killing of her husband, she saw the relevance and appeal of the dog walks as an expression that diffuses violent reactions as well as creates spontaneous bridges of communication among people.
The dog walks started out informally with a few of us in the city. Now we have more than a hundred walking with us during special walking events. Who knows, as we expand our scope of touching the lives of other animal lovers, we can do our part in peacefully transforming people’s lives too. There is this misconception that animal lovers have no time for people, that they focus on their pets because they are unable to cope with the hurts of life and relationship. It is wrongly concluded that when one directs his interest and energies towards animals, they find escape from the world of people. Let’s get this straight, love and compassion are not commodities with limited trade value for I have experienced the opposite. I have seen compassion and love in many animal lovers and I have seen these extended to the world of people, in their families and communities and friends. Which love came first, for animals or humans, is not asking the right questions. Mahatma Gandhi, in his wisdom, once said, “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”
Pets For Peace
A group of animal lovers got together and formed the group Pets For Peace, which actually started as an initiative of the members of “Ang Komunidad para sa Ikauunlad ng Tao,” a non-government organization that advocates active nonviolence for personal and social change. The group, together with other dog clubs, such as the Labrador Retriever Owners Club, the Cross Breed Club, Sporting Dog Club , Mondio Ring aficionados from Cavite, their families and friends, have been doing dog walks and dog events for a cause. The activities are not limited to dog walks, we organize pet vacations together, do lectures on how to be a responsible dog owners, do demo dog agility, dog obedience, play group relay games with our dogs in parks and the beaches. We support the pet friendly activities of the malls such as Alabang Town Center in Muntinlupa, Bonifacio High Street, Rockwell and Tiendesitas, to name a few. We have friendly links with animal welfare groups and maintain a text brigade for dog adoption.
To launch the summer months, Baguio City celebrates annually the Panagbenga, a flower festival of colors, motion and scents which brings the whole city to life. The Panagbenga Festival is almost a month-long celebration with fluvial and motor parades, concerts, outdoor markets, streets blooming with flowers. This year, “Pets For Peace” had a “Dog Walk For Peace”, held in the early hours of the morning starting in Burnham Park, on to Session Road and ending in the Athletic Bowl grounds near Burnham. The dog walk was capped by a short program, which included pet paw printing for peace and formation of the peace sign with owners and their dogs. The dog walk was a free walk. Dogs that participate were registered on the spot in the early morning and given free bandanas without any participation fees.
*“We encourage people, their families and friends to bring their dogs and walk with us. We encourage organizations that advocate social change thru peaceful means to join us too. We are currently coordinating with animal welfare groups and dog clubs based in Baguio to join the walk,”* said Jojo Hubo, an organizer of Pets For Peace and vice-president of the Cross Breed Club. *“You do not have to have a purebred dog to join. What matters is that you care and love your dog and are a responsible dog owner. Mixed breeds have the advantage of a strong genetic foundation, dogs are dogs, no discrimination among owners and their pets.”*