Kathy Moran (The Philippine Star)
The Filipino spirit is waterproof.
The petlover’s spirit never wavers, never dies.
Just as there were so many Pinoys who gave freely of themselves and their resources at the height of the floods caused by the habagat, so were there many animal welfare groups that went out of their way to rescue pets that had been trapped in the floods.
It was heartwarming to see just how many folks took their loving pets with them as them moved to higher ground.
Still, there were pets, mostly dogs, that got separated from their loving humans during the height of the flood, or worse, others that couldn’t escape the flood because they were in a cage or tied in the house as the flood waters rose.
I recall reading a tweet that asked pet owners that if they couldn’t take their dogs with them as they escaped the floods, then the best thing to do would be to untie them or let them out of their cages so that these dogs would be able to fend for themselves.
In an e-mail, Anna Cabrera of the Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) shared with me many of the pet rescue stories that they encountered as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animal (PETA), Compassion and Responsibility for Animals (CARA), Philippine Animal Lovers Society (PALS) and other individuals responded to the request of distraught pet-owners who had to leave their pets behind, on roofs or on the second floor of their houses during the flurry of evacuation
Some pet-owners were not allowed to bring their pets on board the rescue boats, she added, because the boats had either pregnant women, people who were ill, or asthmatic kids whose parents did not want any animals on rescue boats.
By Wednesday, August 8 2012, PAWS had to deploy its own team to rescue animals. There were two teams, one in Marikina and the other for Cainta.
Several rescues were made and by Thursday, Aug. 9, PAWS’ spare cages were filled with evacuees — 12 dogs and four cats.
If there was something different about these floods, as compared to Ondoy, it is that the floods dried faster as soon as the rains stopped. By Friday, some of the areas that were flooded had dried up.
“It was weird that when we entered Provident Village, the water was still chest-high in some areas. After two to three hours of going around the village, the water in the same areas had gone down considerably,” said May Felix-Razon, head of the PAWS rescue and disaster-relief team in Marikina. Over 1,200 packs of repacked dog food and cat food were given to pet owners who chose to stay in their flooded homes with their pets. Meantime, Pasig and Cainta floods had also gone down to knee or ankle level by Saturday, August 11, 2012.
John Tangkeko had a different experience, having had to wade in chin-high floodwaters. He had to steer a small wooden boat in Angono, Rizal on Tuesday, August 14, 2012 to rescue a few dogs.
John was able to evacuate two senior Shih Tzus upon the request of owner Virginia Dalisay, who lived in Carebi Subdivision in Angono.
Another heartwarming story is that of PAWS volunteer Noel Trinchera.
He was licked in the face by two dogs as soon as he entered the flooded Countryside Pasig house of a lawyer pet-owner. The lawyer had sought PAWS’ help in going back to his house, where he left his dogs behind since Tuesday. Noel had to help push open the door of the house because various heavy pieces of furniture, which were moved around by the flood, blocked the main door.
Having gone without food for two days, the dogs were overjoyed to see Noel and their owners and kept trying to lick their faces before turning to the pet kibble poured onto their bowls.
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The Philippine Animal Lovers Society (PALS) was also able to recover a missing Maltese named Lucky.
Lucky’s owner, Marie Salcedo, posted frantic FaceBook messages asking rescuers in Pasig area to keep an eye out for a tiny white pooch. Social networks proved invaluable in the face of national crisis — it also prompted PALS’ volunteers to go door-to-door, until they found Lucky.
Anna informed me that PAWS is so grateful to all the brave volunteer-rescuers and those who provided vehicles and drivers like CARA, Luchie Diaz, Jennifer Ramirez, Therese Martinez, Oliver Tan of Pooch Park, Kenneth Kang, Rob Ceballos, Sheila Lloren and Julien Bourraux.
PAWS’ relief distribution to pet-owners in affected areas will continue for as long as it still has donated pet food to give out.
For those who want to support PAWS’ disaster-relief and rescue efforts for the animals, donations can be made to the “The Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS)” in the following banks: PNB current account no. 378263800012 and BPI savings account number 3943-0086-11
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Thank dogness that the Pinoy pet lover’s spirit survives the floods. For the doggies that were saved from the floods to those reunited with their humans, there are no words to express the joy a pet owner feels — and in any case, often there was no need because lots of licks and wagging tails more than said enough.
For related article clickPAWS Habagat Rescue and Relief Operations