One day, in October last year, Carol Khia decided to take care of some rescued dogs that her friend Teresa Japsay kept in her residence. These dogs were then under the care of an animal rescue organization but since the organization’s resources were meager, Ms. Japsay had to make do with what she had. Ms. Khia has a really soft heart for animals especially neglected ones so from the goodness of her heart took in these dogs to relieve Ms. Japsay the big burden of housing them. “Goodness” for Carol meant setting aside land and outfitting the area with enough shelter for the dogs. Some of these creatures were adopted by her friends and those that weren’t were assured of a decent existence in her 2,000 square meter Mansilingan lot.
Later on, my friends Champa Gidwani and Maggy Echauz joined Carol in her advocacy and CARE (Collective Animal Rescue Efforts) was born. With the help of Liza Villanueva and Tita Lilia Villanueva, the shelter on Carol’s property saw marked improvements as more kernels were added and the facilities were upgraded.
These are ladies after my own heart. Their struggles to make ends meet are short of heroic. Liza, for instance, feeds 30 stray dogs every single day. These are dogs that roam the streets where her restaurants are. Running a restaurant chain (Apollo) eases the worries of where to get the dogs’ next meal but committing to find the time and muster the energy to actually feed them makes her deserving of a medal. As for Maggy, Champa and Tita Lilia, they donate cash and materials for the shelter, not to mention give the affection that these dogs are hungry for.
When the shelter was in its initial stages, the first few months saw it with neither electricity nor running water. Water had to be sourced from somewhere and brought in containers to the site. Finally, in February this year, CARE began having electricity and water from the taps. Aside from Ms. Japsay as Shelter Manager, the caretaker, Raymond Portus is the only other person taking charge on a regular basis. He is the shelter’s live-in employee who feeds the dogs, bathes them, and cleans up the whole area.
There are 23 dogs now: 9 females and 14 males. Their need for food is actually enormous and ideally more than the two sacks of dog food a week is required. The two sacks presently consumed translate only into a handful for each dog per meal supplemented by gruel. Obviously, these are not enough and proof of this are the dogs’ ribs sticking out. At this point, I would like to inform the reader that CARE gives what it can to the dogs. Also, it encourages adoption of these adult dogs. Not only do the animals require sufficient nutrition, but also a human family to love and give attention to them. Many of these animals had sad beginnings but, surprisingly, they show no signs of aggression. In fact, they are quite welcoming, playful and like to be petted. There is so much hunger for affection aside from food.
Maggy tells me of the story of Bardot and Spike. She saw them roaming a street infested with ticks and mange. So bad was their situation that they practically had no more fur left. She traced who the owner was and was surprised to find out that the owner had a carinderia. Talk about neglect with a capital “N”! When Bardot and Spike were brought to the shelter, Maggy discovered that Bardot was male and Spike was female. The former owner did not even know their sex! After months at CARE, the two dogs were covered with healthy fur. This success story is multiplied a number of times which shows that not much is required of a human parent except sufficient food and as much love he or she can show to the dog.
One of CARE’s thrust is to put up a clinic for its spay and neuter program. Calling our local veterinarians for their valuable support, please! Also, calling loving volunteers who can just play with the dogs to make them feel loved. God made us stewards of this earth, animals included. (“For all the animals in the forest are mine, and I own the cattle on a thousand hills. Every bird of the mountains and all the animals of the field belong to me.” Ps. 50:10-11)