The story of Nanay Edith Pizarro- “cat woman of Olongapo” – is the story of most cat lovers in our country. Even with her meager resources, Nanay Edith wanted to reach out to those who were having a tougher time – stray cats who would forage for food in the garbage just to get by.
But like most Good Samaritans for animals, Nanay Edith didn’t know that feeding cats was not the way to help strays for the long-term. She also had no access to low-cost vet services in the area which would enable her spay-neuter (kapon) the animals whom she feeds. As a result, the cats multiplied.
A PAWS Donor learned about Nanay Edith’s unspayed and unneutered cats and funded a project that will allow the PAWS Spay-Neuter and Humane Education Teams to go to Olongapo, where Nanay Edith was.
The outreach was scheduled on May 28 to 29. Bgy Captain Rodolfo Catologan of Bgy Pag-asa allowed PAWS to set up its Mobile Clinic inside the basketball court and helped announce the limited slots of free ‘kapon’ (neutering) for pets to the community.
PAWS volunteers were also faced with the challenge that didn’t come with the usual SN outreaches: they had to catch Nanay Edith’s cats. Nanay had admitted to us that even if she fed these cats, she couldn’t touch most of them.
Under the unforgiving heat of the summer sun, the neighborhood kids trekked the streets of Bgy Pag-asa with PAWS volunteers and helped them locate and trap the cat colonies. Humane education sessions were done in one half of the basketball court while the other half was divided into Registration, Waiting, Anesthesia & Shaving Area, Mobile Clinic parking, plus Recovery area.
The two days were the hardest on the team of two PAWS volunteer vets – Dr. Wilford Almoro (shelter vet but doing this project on volunteer capacity) and Dr Maripi Diaz who would only step out of the Mobile Van to check on neutered animals and to inject anesthesia. Volunteers interviewed pet owners, weighed the animals and went on cat-catching and flyering stints around the community. Many kids and pet owners of Bgy Pag-asa learned a lot about the advantages of spay-neuter from the HE lectures conducted periodically throughout the day.
The final count for animals spayed and neutered was 58- with over 30 belonging to Nanay Edith and about 20 from the community members of Bgy Pag-asa.
Perhaps the most fulfilling part of the outreach was to see the smiles of the children and the toothless grin of Nanay Edith who profusely thanked us when we finished at 9pm on the last day.
PAWS would like to thank Korina Sanchez and the staff of Rated K for putting us in touch with Nanay Edith. Special thanks also to Bgy Captain Rodolfo Catologan who accommodated our logistical requests. We thank the kind people of this community for welcoming us so warmly and for being kind guardians of stray cats.
Here’s to more cats and dogs neutered through the collaboration of donors, PAWS and LGU officials! We will move slowly but surely to reaching our goal of “No More Homeless Pets” through preventive programs. A nation of animal lovers not just feeding and rescuing animals, but one that actively engages and empowers communities into seeking long-term, humane solutions to the problem of strays.