MANILA, Philippines, July 5 (UPI) -- About 290,000 dogs are butchered and eaten annually in the Philippines despite a 14-year-old law banning the practice, a Philippines newspaper reported.
The Philippine Inquirer said the trading of dog meat has reached $4.17 million a year and restaurants that specialize in dog meat are patronized by local government leaders, Gulf News said.
Samuel Pagdilao, director of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group of the Philippine National Police, said dog-eating has remained rampant, particularly in northern Luzon, despite government warnings doing so could cause rabies and other diseases.
Low-paid enforcers are charged with ensuring the ban is followed.
Pagdilao cited statistics from Linis Gobyerno Inc., a non-government organization, revealing about 60 eateries in northern Luzon serve dog meat.
The NGO has pressed for strict enforcement of the Philippines law against eating dogs.
The 1998 Animal Welfare Act stipulates only cattle, pigs, goats, sheep, poultry, rabbits, carabaos, horses, deer and crocodiles can be killed for food.
The law says dogs can be killed only for religious ritual, when they endanger people or when it's necessary to control their population.
Violators can be imprisoned from six months to two years and be fined at least $24.