This was a nightmare that came true for the people and animals in Cagayan de Oro and Iligan on December 16, 2011 when Tropical Storm “Sendong” (International Name “Washi”) struck Southern Philippines.
The 9.8 – 13.8 inches of rain brought about by Sendong caused the rivers to overflow and generate a flash flood that left 823 people dead and 600 still missing (Reported as of December 19 2011).
It was a tragedy for humans. It was a tragedy for animals. For the latter, however, there were no rescue missions being sent out, no food relief being given. It could be said that, for many animals, the aftermath of the disaster was just as bad as the disaster itself: Horses and cattle were seen untreated and lying on the streets suffering from near-drowning and various cuts and injuries. Dogs and cats, were found starving, scrounging for food and water amidst the rubble.
Dr Arceo noted that companion animals faced a tragedy very much similar to the humans - they lost their families. Many dogs -with collars - looked lost and afraid as they walked around the rubble where their old homes used to be. They approached people cautiously but were aware that humans were the only chance they had to get a bit of food.
With help from the International Fund for Animal Welfare, and using Arceo's initial reports, PAWS Disaster Relief Teams headed out on separate occasions to conduct feeding of the animals in the affected areas. Some injured animals were also treated.
PAWS also met up with Drs. Ricky & Peanut Taban-Ud, from CDO and Dr. Dahlia M. Valera City Vets of CDO and Iligan respectively to find out how help can be stretched for the long run.
A rabies vaccination project was carried out. IFAW and PAWS vaccinated 89 animals.
289 dogs, 112 cats and 1 pig were given supplements, treated and/or dewormed.
In Iligan, a cause for concern was the way collected animals were put down - still using the old tambucho method - which is now illegal. Unlike in Cagayan de Oro, there was a directive to collect and eliminate stray dogs as officials feared that starving animals would dig up human carcasses and eat them.
Dr. Valera admitted that they had no budget for the euthanasia drug so PAWS assisted by giving the the drugs needed for this.
Arceo negotiated for longer claiming period for the animals who had collars, in the hopes that their families would come back for them. Some were claimed during the extended waiting period. However, when the time came for the IFAW-PAWS Team to head back to Manila, the Team eventually decided to choose six (6) dogs among those who were scheduled to be euthanized.
It was then that Faith, Hope, Chance, Courage, Braveheart and Harmony were selected and flown back to Manila at the PAWS Animal Rehabilitation Center (PARC) to be treated and put up for adoption.
The rescue and disaster-relief efforts eased the suffering of scores of animals who are often the forgotten victims in any tragedy thanks to people who donated and to the International Fund for Animal Welfare who spent for the PAWS Team to immediately fly to the area and get relief operations going within a week of the disaster. Even ordinary individuals came to lend a hand.
Mary Fatima Tabliago, a subscriber to the PAWS Facebook account, contributed for the fund specifically to take home two (2) of the selected dogs. She has volunteered to adopt Faith and Braveheart. Courage has recently been adopted to a loving family.
Hope, Chance and Harmony are still waiting for their second chance at a good life.
Help PAWS continue its work for animals in disasters by contributing to our disaster relief program. For online donations click SUPPORT PAWS. DONATE ONLINE.
For more photos, click on this link:https://picasaweb.google.com/adminpawsweb/TyphoonSendongCagayanDeOroIliganRescueAndReliefOperations#