posted by Michel on Jan 27

Last September, when I was on the way back from a VERY busy time with our shelter in Kalibo, I decided to call on my friends from the Animal Kingdom Foundation (AKF), that specialise in intercepting the cruel and highly illegal dog meat trade transports. As much as I love this country, I’m afraid to admit that dogs are still being eaten here and there. Needless to say this gruesome habit is accompanied by totally unnecessary cruelty and suffering. Hence the reason for AKF to step in. So far they have around 600 dogs that were spared this fate on their grounds in Tarlac province. While I was there, I spoke with the very dedicated staff, such as Greg, veterinarian Roland and others. I also met two dogs whose image just wouldn’t leave my mind. So at the end of the day I decided to give two of them a new future: Sophie, the friendliest of them all who made friends with me the moment I arrived and Tina, a disabled dog who out of necessity was confined to a kennel by herself. Around the same time, Elly Maynard of Sirius Global Animal Organisation had been with AKF on a raid on one of those transports and she even brought a New Zealand film crew to document it all. Elly heard of Tina and the fact that we had already given away a wheelchair to Vincent, a dog rescued by our collegues of IRO in Cebu, and offered to pay for a similar wheelchair for Tina.

However, the story didn’t end there. Just a few weeks ago we were approached by a very young lady, Stephanie of 14 years old, who was worried sick about having to leave the Philippines next March and leaving her disabled puppy Bella behind. Obviously, disabled dogs need special care, since they drag their hind quarters and legs over the floor and often have little or no bladder and bowel control. Not every one’s cup of tea clearly. After almost a full day of SMS messages, Facebook chatting and even a Skype call, we decided that it was best for her to take Bella to AKF, since they were located relatively close and were coming to Manila to deliver Sophie and Tina anyway, so that it would be easy for them to bring Bella as well. It broke Stephanie’s heart to give up her beloved puppy, but she realised it was for the better. What a hero that young lady! We decided that such a young animal deserved a good chance, so those fine people of Wheelchairs for Dogs set to work to provide a wheelchair-to-size for Bella. Now we were going to bring two of those wheelchairs!

Tina, Sophie and Bella arrive in Manila

Soon we found ourselves back in Manila and just in time to secure a few transport kennels for the three dogs. The next day Greg and the AKF driver arrived with their precious cargo, all set to transfer them to the live cargo section of one of the local airlines. We were scheduled to travel the next day.

In Kalibo, our relatives had already picked up the dogs and a nice new kennel for Tina had already been prepared. That afternoon and evening we needed a rest, but the next morning we set about in earnest: assembled the wheelchairs and prepared Tina and Bella for their first rides! Tina took to it like a real pro and was soon running around, occasionally getting stuck behind furniture. We took her outside however and she loved that, sniffing out her new neighbourhood. Bella, being a lot younger, needed more time to get used to this strange device attached to her behind. At first she just stood there, but encouragement in the shape of treats soon changed that and she began to walk, gently. Sophie in the mean time already made friends with a few puppies and a rescue from last September: the incredibly loving Luningning that had herself lost her partially paralysed son to some viral infection.

Just look at those happy faces!


Tina taking her first steps outside

Bella gently getting to grips with modern machinery

Sophie enjoying a cuddle (Spot in the foreground)


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