After attempting to catch all possible showings (we were too cheap to buy the DVD), I’d fantasize over owning my own shelter-hotel for homeless dogs. I’d think, “When I’m rich and successful in the future, I’m going to put up a giant shelter for all the homeless dogs and cats.”
It turns out that my noble dream isn’t necessarily sustainable. While building a hotel of that size would be a good temporary solution, the reality is that it would still have its limits. All the money in the world will never be enough to save all the animals out there.
Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) executive director Anna Cabrera explains that we can’t adopt our way out of the homelessness problem. People have misconceptions about the shelter, thinking that all animals that are brought in can be accommodated, even with the limited space.
She stresses that animal welfare is there to prevent animal cruelty. “The mission of PAWS, or any other animal shelter, is not to rescue cats and dogs. It’s actually to prevent rescues from happening in the first place,” she says.
Getting to PARC, we were greeted by a chorus of meows and woofs. The center is run by a dedicated group of volunteers and some regular staff members. It was 3 p.m. on a Saturday, but the place was abuzz with activity thanks to all of the volunteers walking the dogs, preparing fresh fish for the cats, and attending to visitors who want to avail of the spay-neuter and adoption services.
The organization is well known for saving abused or neglected animals, but the shelter prioritizes animals in distress. Most of the cats and dogs have pending cases in court as a way to show people that you can’t just get away with animal abuse.
PAWS has always aimed to destroy the stigma of native dogs and cats being ugly. Seeing their smiling faces, I was able to see how Aspins (asong Pinoys) and Puspins (pusang Pinoys) are just as lovable and cute as purebreeds.
Here are a few misconceptions about PAWS, along with their respective truths. The PAWS website has complete information on how to adopt, volunteer and rescue, so be sure to check it out for more details.
Misconception 1: The shelter is a place where you can bring the stray cats and dogs that you find roaming around, or the pets that you can’t take care of anymore.
Truth: PARC is a shelter that is supposed to house animals after extreme cases of abuse and neglect, meaning that their rescues are in dire need of care. If you bring in a healthy dog or cat asking them to take it in, you’ll be taking away the services from another animal who might need it even more.
Misconception 2: You can come and volunteer without giving prior notice.
Truth: There are different ways to volunteer, including helping with cleaning the facilities and preparing the fresh fish and meat. If you want to help in handling the dogs, you’ll have to complete a few requirements like getting pre-exposure shots and attending a volunteer orientation.
Misconception 3: Spaying or neutering your dog or cat is unhealthy/harmful for your pet and an unnecessary expense.
Truth: By spaying or neutering your pet, you’ll be helping with the homelessness problem. Spaying and neutering is also a solution to control the feral cat situation in your area, since doing so prevents them from multiplying. PAWS offers spay-neuter services at lower costs.
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PAWS needs cat and dog food (among other pet supplies) to keep the shelter running. If you want to adopt, volunteer, or donate, check out their website, www.paws.org.ph. Follow them on Instagram @pawsphilippines.
Photos by Ina Jacobe