BULACAN, Philippines — It’s three in the afternoon, and the familiar smell of dog food, cooked meat, and rice wafts through the air.
Dozens of dogs begin wag their tails and bark in anticipation and in unison, while their caretakers pile food onto each dog’s plate.
Meanwhile, the cats wait patiently to be fed inside their enclosure.
This is how a regular mid-day goes at Pawssion Project in San Jose del Monte, Bulacan, a small shelter that Malou Perez put up within 2019.
Its sister shelter, located in Bacolod, was first to come into existence.
“Pawssion started October 2018 because of canines on ‘death row’ at the Bacolod City Pound, ” she says.
Strays and rescues that are not adopted or claimed are often put down due to lack associated with space and resources in local lbs. “When I saw the particular [Facebook] post of the dogs on death row, just like any other regular animal lover, I shared the article; but We didn’t really do [anything] about it, because at the end of the day, 50 dogs is 50 dogs. inch
After a visit to the pound, Perez was soon convinced she had to take them in. “I just wanted to save those dogs, ” she says.
The SJDM shelter was born thanks to another Facebook write-up, this time about 106 canines on death row in the city.
As of mid-2022, Pawssion Project-Bulacan has been home in order to more than 400 dogs plus 100 cats—all of them protects. Together with its sister shelter, Pawssion Project is home to over 600 pet cats and dogs.
In both instances, Perez states she initially had no plans associated with putting up permanent locations. But the problem with strays has been a force majeure that’s always made her change the girl mind.
“You know, the problem is too overwhelming to be solved by one organization. The main problems are overpopulation, the lack of education in terms of animal welfare, and responsible pet ownership. ”
“The Philippines has around 13 million strays right now. It is just but impossible to rescue all of them. It is impossible. inch
Echoing Perez’s woes, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) issued a statement in June on the state of pet homelessness within the country.
“Animal homelessness has reached a crisis point in the Philippines. While countless dogs and cats struggle to survive on the particular streets, hundreds are euthanized every month in municipal pounds, ” said Jason Baker, PETA senior vice president of campaigns.
The group appeals to anyone “with the necessary time, energy, and space to adopt a cat (or dog) from a rescue group or animal shelter. ”
The statement accompanies the launch associated with the group’s billboard campaign calling for Filipinos to give cats “a second chance at the better life”, in line with June’s Adopt-a-Cat month.
No more strays
Under local government units have the power to impound stray animals, and regulate the keeping of creatures in homes or as part of a business.
“If this law had been implemented fully, there should be simply no stray felines or canines in the country, inch says Dr. Glofezita Lagayan of the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) via email.
Yet not everyone agrees.
Linda Bansil, a 46-year-old animal rescuer from Pasig, believes that will stray pets should not suffer the particular consequences of not having a home.
“This will be a fight against animals because they simply exist outdoors, ” the girl says.
“Not all creatures have owners; not all cats and kittens have houses. We are given birth to on Earth, which is inhabited by cats and other animals. How can they say ‘no strays’? ”
Bansil, along with her friend and companion rescuer Daddy Mendizabel, practices Trap-Neuter-Return or even ‘TNR’ with regard to cats, a process where stray animals are usually trapped regarding desexing, plus returned afterwards to their own habitats.
“TNR is an effective way in order to control the particular stray population within the most humane way possible. The particular pounds plus shelters will have less pets to save, foster, house and so on. Less reason too for rescuers to admit [animals] in their homes—because there are fewer rescuers. ”
Aside from TNR, Bansil and Mendizabel also rehome rescued animals through a Facebook page they have set up.
Dr . Lagayan from the BAI says, however, that a trap-neuter-return program would not really be feasible, because it will contradict the law. The agency maintains that all animals must be kept within homes or some other establishments.
One particular reason intended for this is the transfer of rabies — the viral disease that can cause brain damage and possibly death — to humans upon contact with an infected animal.
A rabid problem
In the Philippines, close to 200 deaths occur yearly due to rabies, as per BAI data. Interestingly, the anti-rabies program and law in the united states focus more on canines.
“According to the particular World Health Organization, dogs are the main source of human rabies fatalities, contributing up to 99% of almost all rabies transmission to people, ” states Dr Lagayan.
“Further, the global plus ASEAN goal for rabies is ‘Zero human deaths from dog-mediated rabies simply by 2030’. ”
The fear associated with rabies is usually still very much alive, says Perez, only contributing in order to the worsening stigma surrounding stray creatures.
“People think that rabies is definitely inborn. It’s basically why people who do not understand that would immediately call the particular pound in order to round upward strays if they see strays within their area. Because they think that will when that dog or cat will certainly bite their particular kid, or will bite them, they’re gonna get rabies, inch she states.
But while the government has free anti-rabies vaccinations for domesticated animals, it only addresses one aspect of the issue.
“The only project for strays right now is the anti-rabies vaccination. So how is that addressing the overpopulation problem? That is our problem, ” adds Perez.
Her hopes for animal welfare are not lost, however.
She says that greater involvement from LGUs would be key in solving the stray animal crisis, since “they have the prerogative to actually allocate a budget for animal welfare. inch
New approaches to long-term issue
The run away animal issue may become a growing concern, but the response to, and unconventional methods to addressing it are on the particular rise as well.
The Quezon City LGU announced in March that stray dogs — rescued or surrendered — will also be trained as service dogs, such as emotional support or bomb detection dogs. This comes as an alternative to the city’s efforts in order to rehome animals at its Animal Care and Adoption Center.
QC also offers free microchipping, where a small chip is implanted in an animal’s body for identification. Chipped and registered pets will end up being easier to reunite with their owners
Registration of the owners is needed afterwards, to help locate the animal’s caretaker, in the event the pet will be caught outside its home.
Back in SJDM, Bulacan, the city vet will also be implementing the same technology, says Dr . Arvin Agapito, the town veterinarian.
“We are just waiting for a meeting with the particular Local Health Board with regard to approval. But we have already identified a barangay regarding the initial implementation, ” he says.
“The dog catching will certainly still become in place. This is just to regulate pet owners to register their animals with the city, ” the doctor adds.
Dr. Agapito believes that this project will not only regulate the pet population in the city, but also increase responsible pet ownership among the particular city’s residents.
“Dogs should not end up being penalized. It should be the irresponsible owners who should be penalized. That’s exactly where we are headed. Our main concern is just the funding, ” states Dr. Agapito, who admits that funds for the city vet’s projects had to become temporarily deprioritized, to address the particular city’s COVID-19 response.
On top of the city vet’s plans to implement microchipping, the department also conducts free kapon—spay and neuter—activities. One associated with its kapon projects was partnering with Malou Perez’s Pawssion Project, where the city vet provides totally free desexing in order to the shelter’s rescues.
A final plea
Perez calls for improved conditions in how Filipinos deal along with stray creatures.
“I think so much of what’s going on right now is really the lack of education and empathy for these stray pets. And people believe we’re superior, that we rule the world, plus these animals don’t have the right to live here. I think that is the primary problem. inch
“For me, I would understand if you don’t like them. That’s okay. Just avoid hurt all of them. ”