(The Philippine Star) | Updated December 22, 2012

MANILA, Philippines – The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and the Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) teamed up to help the animals and people with their animals in the areas affected by the onslaught of Typhoon Pablo in Mindanao. 

The areas reached by the IFAW-PAWS team for assessment and relief-distribution were Veruela, Cateel, Boston, Monkayo, Compostela and New Bataan.

“The extent of devastation is great and we are glad to be able to give relief to even just some of the towns affected by the disaster,” said Jennifer Gardner, program officer for IFAW’s disaster response.

Typhoon Pablo has affected 591,090 families or 5,782,730 persons in 32 provinces. With the death toll almost reaching a thousand and with hundreds of humans still missing(according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council or NDRRMC as of Dec. 15), one can imagine that those who survived are dealing with both heartbreak over lost or missing loved ones and anxiety on where they would get food and water. Human aid has started to trickle in.

“Still, in the midst of everything, we’ve seen people also count their animals among the ones that they hold dear and would like to save,” says PAWS campaign specialist, May Felix-Razon. The IFAW-PAWS Team has also seen locals sharing their food rations with their dogs, chickens and their pigs.

“The pigs and chickens are their sources of livelihood, the dogs were treated as valued members of the family and there were many of them who took their dogs with them in the evacuation cent About a week before Typhoon Pablo hit the country, PAWS was invited by the NDRRMC to talk about the inclusion of putting up animal areas in evacuation areas. “We are lobbying for the inclusion of animals in disaster-preparedness and relief programs in the Amendment of the Animal Welfare Act,” stated Anna Cabrera, PAWS executive director. “People care about their animals and are in desperate need of assistance in terms of saving whatever is left of their livestock and to have their companion animals with them, too, when they evacuate.”

In the meantime, groups like PAWS and IFAW are doing what they can to address this need — even though it is in a very limited capacity.

Last Dec. 19, 50 families received both human relief (food and water) and food for 73 dogs and 52 pigs.  The team is heading out to Monkayo, New Bataan and Compostela to distribute 300 bags of dog food and about 1.5 tons of pig feed.

PAWS will extend help to both humans and animals. When we help animals, we also help their human owners. If you would want to support PAWS’ Disaster-Relief Operations and their campaign to include animals in disaster-relief, their account numbers are: Bank of the Philippine Islands-peso savings 3943-0086-11; Banco de Oro-peso Savings Acct 625-0058-159. Account name for both accounts is Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS).

For information, visit www.paws.org.ph
Photos by Keith Bacongo