Archive for November, 2008

posted by Michel on Nov 28

This story is dedicated to the countless innocent animals that were abandoned by their owners and as a consequence lost their lives at the hands of humankind all over the world in institutions like the Manila Dog Pound.

A pictorial of Falco’s rescue can be found at: Falco

Isn’t it amazing how a rescue comes about and how many people, even unknowingly, contribute? This is the story of Falco, whom we adopted recently and his rescuer (twice!), Tracy. It all started with a posting on a public forum by a Dutch chap that I know who was looking for a dog in the Davao (Mindanao, Philippines) region. Because I know lots of people who deal with stray animals and their rescue in the Philippines, I suggested to him we’d try find him a rescued animal, rather than one from a breeder. Unfortunately, the acquaintance has not decided what to do until today, but the essence is that many emails were sent back and forth until one came up that said something along the lines of: “Please adopt this dog before Friday or he will die in the Pound!”. It was a plea by Tracy Tuason of CARA in Manila and she included the following picture.

Falco in prison

Falco in prison

This was our first contact with Falco and the start of a wonderful rescue. The thought, or rather: realisation, that so many animals are killed ONLY 3 DAYS after they arrive at the pound, prompted my wife and I to consider carefully if there was indeed something that WE could do. Yes, we needed a guard dog that could provide security and company for those that are looking after our house in the Philippines after our beautiful and loving puppy Tosca died of heartworm some months earlier. So after some serious discussion (recall that at present we are still located in the Netherlands and have no way of regularly training a dog in the Philippines) we decided to give him a fighting chance, if only to save at least ONE of those poor souls.

Falco’s capture in Belair, Manila

Tracy Tuason, Falco’s rescuer and volunteer with CARA, wrote:
Last Sept 18 Belair Village guards (this is where I stay) observed Falco hanging around outside the village gate at Jupiter Street. He was attempting to enter Bel air premises and the guard on duty kept shooing him away. But after several attempts Falco was able to slip thru the gate and started running inside Bel air. He ran to Mercury Street and entered a house with an opened gate. The guard did not chase him because he was on duty and could not leave his post. But he called it in and other security personnel started looking for him. Nobody saw him enter the house so the search took quite a while.But the people in the house where he entered saw him and got scared and reported it. Security tried to catch him but he ran away from the house and acoording to the guard i spoke with the chase was long and hard. They finally asked help from the pound people and after several hours they were able to rope him around the neck and was dragged to the vehicle. This, I think, was the thing that got him so angry. A pound person told me that Falco was badly strangled and for sure was hurt. That’s why I think up to the present he really doesn’t like and trust men. He can’t forget what happened to him.

He was placed in the horrible dog cages of Belair and it wasn’t until a week after that I learned that there was a dog kept in the cages and that he was very very fierce and angry. I went to look at him and the moment I saw him I felt so much pity that I knew I was going to get involved in this dog’s life. By that time no one had come to claim him and Belair was set to turn him over to the Makati City Pound. Once there , if he was not claimed by three days he will be euthanised. I asked Belair Manager, Gloria Ambay, to put off sending him to the pound for another week so that I could help in finding his owner and by doing so his life would be spared. Gloria graciously agreed and my sister and I took photos of Falco and made quite a number of fliers. We posted them outside the streets of Belair, thinking that he came from the barangay adjacent to Belair called Poblacion.

After distributing the fliers all over even the nearest local market i waited everyday I waited for someone to call and claim Falco. I had hope that he would be found by his owner. After all he was a healthy looking dog and was obviously taken cared of very well. He was even wearing a green fatigue collar when caught. He wasn’t a stray. But nobody called within the week and my heart was sinking. There were a few more days left before Bel air would once again call the pound. During tis whole week of reprieve I would visit Falco at the cages 2 times a day to feed him. I told the maintenance people to stop feeding him because they would just give leftovers and he would get spoiled by that. My sister, also named Nancy (like Nancy Cu Unjieng of CARA, red.), contributed and bought him a 20 lbs bag of dog food and this is what i brought to him everyday.

I found it quite difficult to feed him because he would snarl and bark angrily at me. I was so scared to put food inside his cage because he would try to bite my hand. So I asked the help of a Belair guard named Nierva who was brave enough to put food in the cage and also clean it everyday with much difficulty because Falco was so angry. I was getting disheartened because now it was becoming clear that he can’t be adopted out and would eventually be euthanised by the pound. I called several people who are in high profile dog welfare and whom I thought could help him be rehabilitated so he could be saved from the pound and be adopted later but none of them really helped. Nancy C. said that these people were all show and are not really truly committed to animal welfare.

During this last week in Belair 2 pound people, Ed and Ver, would visit Falco in the cages and try to befriend him so that the transfer to the pound will not be bloody. They also brought him fresh food which they would get form the Mandarin hotel to give to the other dogs caught in the pound. If there are people who really care about dogs, these two from the pound are the ones. Even if dogs at the pound will eventually be euthanised, Ed and Ver treat them with great care and respect. It would be them who would point out Inggo to me (and another female dog) and asked me if I could save them because they were sweet and gentle dogs. It was also during this week that Nancy C. had the photo of Falco put out in the CARA website and sent to many in the Animal Welfare Coalition including Michel. But the day came that Belair told me that Falco’s time was up and must be sent to the dreaded pound.

Falco goes to prison

The day I was dreading arrived. On Oct 3 the pound people, Ed and Ver, came in the afternoon to get Falco. I was so nervous because I knew the transfer would be bloody. The dog will not go without a fight. The pound is not equipped with that pole with a rope noose at the end which is used in the States to catch dogs. They were going to use plain rope to tie around the neck and drag Falco out. This will be traumatic because of what happened to him when he was caught. I was really sick to my stomach anticipating the inevitable struggle. But to everyone’s surprise when they roped him and pulled him out he became docile and did not even whimper. Falco walked calmly to the waiting pound truck and carried up at the back of the truck without a struggle. It was obvious that being caged all those two weeks in Belair was what made him really angry and frustrated. I don’t think caging him for prolonged periods now and in the future will be a good idea. I had spoken to the pound vet, Dra. Pinky Manalastas, a few days before and asked her not to euthanise Falco and to keep him in the pound for a week while I plan the next move. She agreed but only gave me a week because even if he is not euthanized within 3 days he will also end up dying in the long run because disease spreads like wildfire in the pound. Meanwhile I asked my uncle if we could transfer Falco to his empty house in Belair after his time in the pound and he agreed as long as it was temporary.

Falco in his prison cell

Falco in his prison cell

I got in touch with a canine unit guarding hotels and malls and asked them if they would be interested in getting Falco as one of their bomb sniffing dogs. They came to the pound and took a look at him but
decided not to get him. Now, I am so thankful that they did not because Nancy (of CARA, red.) has had reports that this particular agency does not really treat their dogs well. Fortunately, it was also this time that Michel more or less made up his mind to adopt Falco. Up to this point we would call him Facundo, a name my sister gave him for comic relief and thanks to Michel the name was changed to Falco. During this time Ver and Ed would walk him twice a day and his disposition improved dramatically. I would also go visit him daily and I noticed that he was getting less angry and aggressive. Even when he was caged it did not bother him because the space was huge compared to that of Belair’s and he was all by himself and not mixed with other dogs.

It was this time at the pound on Falco’s third day that they brought in Inggo and i noticed him immediately because he would cry and stand up on his hind legs as if begging me to take him out of there. He was placed with the other dogs and it was quite heartbreaking to see all of them knowing that in a few days most of them will be dead if not claimed. They all looked pitiful and up to this day I don’t know if I want to go back there.

Release from prison

The seven days of Falco at the pound and on Monday Oct 13 the pound took him to my uncle’s empty house although he had a caretaker and family living there with a dog I also rescued last March. By this time Michel had given us instructions for neuter and shots and our emails were mostly procedures how to send Falco to Kalibo. I would visit Falco 2 times a day and take him for long walks. He really loved to walk and became quite a happy dog. He was becoming very attached to me and would cry everytime I would leave. On Wednesday October 15 Ver and Ed asked me to rescue Inggo and another small white female dog left at the pound 2 days before by her owner who went abroad permanently. They said these two were worth saving and I agreed. I went to the pound again, paid the adoption fees of P150 ea. and they were given rabies shots there. I also put them up at my uncle’s house but had to transfer the little female to my house because she was shivering badly out of fear. She didn’t stay long with me. Two days after, she was adopted by a friend who has 2 Shih Tzus and now I hear is very happy there. Falco was neutered at the CARA clinic Thursday Oct 16. Oct 18 Nancy, Barbara and I went to Cartimar to buy his kennel for the flight. He was supposed to fly to Kalibo on the 23rd but because of my hectic schedule I was not able to take Falco to the vet for his shots and so the trip had to be moved to the 25th. It was on the 23rd that Falco got all his shots plus a much needed bath. Falco was getting sweeter and sweeter by the day! I knew I was going to miss him when he goes. On Saturday Oct 25 I walked Falco early in the morning and at 8:30 we left for the airport. I gave him a pill to make him drowsy before leaving. We went straight to Cebu Pacific Cargo and I arranged all his quarantine papers and paid the fare. I forgot to take photos! Then they loaded him in the forklift and he was out of sight. I never felt so sad!

Tracy Tuason and Falco

Tracy Tuason and Falco

Falco’s adventues in Aklan
I went home after the airport and since Falco’s flight was at 11:45 I didn’t call Aling Leonora (Neressa’s mother, Red.) till 1pm. I caught her still at the aitport picking up Falco and I was so happy that he arrived there safe and sound. I called again later in the afternoon and Nanay (Neressa’s mother, Red.) said he was just lying down in the veranda resting. So everything went perfectly OR SO I THOUGHT!
Falcos reception committee at Kalibo Airport

Falco's reception committee at Kalibo Airport

Next day, Sunday, everything will turn around 360 degrees! It was 10 am Oct 26 that I first opened my cell phone and saw the frantic message of Nanay. I was in complete shock. Falco was missing! And he had not even been in Kalibo for 24 hours. By 12 noon I had decided to fly to Kalibo with encouragement from Nancy Cu Unjieng as she told me that the first 24 hours was crucial if we were ever to find Falco. Chances of finding him diminishes greatly after 24 hours. So this was what made up my mind. I thought that it would kill me just waiting for word here in Manila. So I reasoned that even if he is not found at least I tried all that I can do.I asked Barbara Greenwood, CARA secretary, to drive me to the airport and 45 mins before flight time I was still ih the long line of unticketed people. When it became just half an hour I desperately ran to a Cebu Pacific counter girl and begged her to help me, that I had a super emergency in Kalibo and they have to do something so i can make the flight. She sensed desperation and she hustled and got me ticketed right away! The ticket though was quite expensive because it was not booked ahead of time. I ran to the boarding gate and if I had been in the Olympic 100 meters sprint I would have won it.
I arrived in Kalibo at 4:30 pm and at 5:15 pm I was already searching around the neighbourhood in Andagao with Manang Ligaya (our helper, Red.) and about 6 little kids trailing us and also calling out the name of Falco.We walked continously until there was no more light and could not see our way at about 6:30 pm. I decided that we should resume the next day. Although we asked a lot of people if they saw Falco and all answered in the negative the 2 little boys in our search party spotted him at 2pm and this gave me hope that he was still in the area. We returned to Michel and Neressa’s house and I asked Eric (our tricycle driver, Red.) to come back the next day so i could hire him to drive me around in his tricycle so we could cover a lot more ground searching. Eric left and about 10 mins after that, he sent an SMS message to Nanay that he had Falco in his sight and that he entered a narrow passageway off the main road which led to a dead end of houses. We got so excited that I jumped from where I was sitting and rushed out to the street with Nanay following. We walked to the main road to flag down a tricycle but before we knew it Eric had come back to take us back where he had left Falco. On the way there I was so convinced that Falco would have moved on again and we would not see him. When we got to the place it was so dark that I had to strain my eyes to see the surroundings. There was a movement and all gasped but it was another dog. But I looked to my right and lo and behold there was Falco scratching the trunk of a coconut tree. I jumped out of the tricycle and called his name out loud. He turned and looked at me and in a second was running towards me. He jumoed at me and started licking my face and then lay down on the ground wanting me to scratch his stomach.As you can imagine I put my arms around him tight, attached the leash to his collar and loaded him inside the tricycle. I didn’t take my arms off Falco on the ride back and he himself did not fidget and stayed still as if he knew that now he was safe. We were all so happy in the house and it was as if we won ten million pesos in the lottery! Our adrenaline was really way up! I massaged Falco so he could relax and we fed him and he was really hungry and ate the food in just a few seconds. For sure that was his first meal of rhe day. I think he was so happy to see me that he had only eyes for me and he wouldn’t let me out of his sight. We bonded pretty heavily that night. He slept at the veranda whiile I had the use of Michel and Neressa’s wonderful room. During that night I felt that all that happened that day was like dream and during the night I would get up once in a while to peek out the window to make sure Falco was really there outside. It was heartbreaking to leave him the next day but now that Michel told me that he has taken to Ligaya, my hurt feelings have been assured!
I can’t thank Michel and Nene enough for taking Falco! May he have a long and happy life in Kalibo. He is worth all the trouble! he is a wonderful dog and you are quite lucky to have him! Inggo is doing well and steadily gaining weightand strength that now he barks at people he doesn’t know. Nancy wants him to become a goodwill hospital dog who visits sick kids to cheer them up. I think this will be an excellent job for him because of his sweet and gentle disposition.
Falco taking Manang Ligaya for a walk

Falco taking Manang Ligaya for a walk

So far Tracy’s side of the story. I’m sure you agree that this is indeed a formidable rescue, illustrating an exemplary dedication on her part. Compliments Tracy and well done!!!
At the moment, Falco is doing quite well. Unfortunately, I’m unable to train him until we can move to Kalibo on a more permanent basis, but he’s certainly quite happy now. He’s also good at his job: guarding our property, for which he gets rewarded with all the food that he likes. He is even learning to share the property with our cats Mimi, Mozart and Mitch.
Alls well that ends well!

All's well that ends well!

posted by Michel on Nov 17

We are led to believe that they are. However, when you consider that many so-called scientific tests are related to totally non-essential products such as cosmetics and that there are many good animal-friendly alternatives, we can conclude that such tests are far from necessary. The very least we can do is to eliminate animal testing for non-essential products, which would already save the lives of millions of animals. Of course, before any products are deemed fit for human consumption, they must be completely safe. There is simply no argument against that. But is it morally acceptable to abuse our fellow creatures simply because they cannot protest their fate? Even though so many viable alternatives exist? I think not!

For more information on the subject, please check out the web site of PETA U.K. where you can order campaign material and find out which companies abuse animals by performing tests on them. You can also read more on the alternatives to animal testing on the web site of the European Centre for the Validation of Alternative Methods.

posted by Michel on Nov 11

How can anybody do a thing like this to innocent creatures!?!?! You’ll no doubt forgive me for not posting the photos mentioned below. Dr. Zunio from Pets in Practice writes:

Dear all,

This is the medical report that goes with the photos of the poor kittens from dasma village that had to be euthanized:

On the 3rd of november 2008, Ms Nancy CuUnjieng brought in rescued kittens to Vets in Practice from Dasmarinas Village, Makati City. the kittens were wrapped in a plastic bag according to Ms Nancy, and upon examination revealed to be strangled on their own umbilical cords. It is with human intervention that the umbilical cords still attached to each kitten were tied together and could not be released by the mother. Some parts of the body were already swollen due to absence of blood circulation from being strangled. all of them were already dehydrated and had difficulty breathing; they were still covered with their own placenta and were crying from hunger and cold.

The kittens were already dying and presented signs of infection; their immune system is not yet well developed to combat infection. due to the clinical signs seen, the kittens were euthanised using an intravenous euthanasia agent.

This report is issued upon the request of Ms CuUnjieng for whatever purpose it may serve.

Rizalina Zunio, DVM