By Ellson Quismorio
In Talisay, Batangas, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) K-9 Corps thought of a way to keep pet owners at the evacuation center.
They led a rescue operation for abandoned pets Wednesday amid threats of a major eruption from Taal Volcano to dissuade pet owners from returning to their homes from the evacuation centers to feed their animals, including livestock, MMDA K-9 Corps President Cris Falcis told Manila Bulletin in an exclusive interview.
“We’re here to rescue some animals na naiwan na ng may-ari (that were left by their owners),” Falcis said.
“The pets are one of the reasons why they keep coming back. [Once the pets are rescued], there is no sense for them to come back,” he added.
Joining the rescue efforts were members of the Batangas City Veterinary Office and private volunteers-slash-animal lovers. The groups assembled at Talisay Municipal Hall.
They bought cages for the animals as well as food and water.
On Wednesday morning, members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) began to implement the lockdown order in the town, which is among the closest to Taal Volcano in the province. This means that no vehicle, expect those occupied by volunteers, is permitted to enter Talisay.
Volunteer Hazel Tolentino said the rescued animals from the town–mostly dogs–would be taken to a shelter in Magallanes, Cavite.
“Pagdating doon sa shelter ang problema namin nagkakaroon kami ng shortage for cages (The problem at the shelter is that we’re having a shortage for cages),” she said. The good news according to her is that they continue to receive animal feed donations, which they are constantly in need of.
Speaking of feeding animals, Jana Sevilla, media relations officer for the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)- Asia said this was all they could do to the abandoned pets at Taal island.
“We left food that would last the animals one week. One horse was so hungry, it ate dog food,” Sevilla said in a press briefing at the municipal hall.
She appealed for evacuation centers to take in people’s pets since they stand no chance of survival in the light of Taal’s eruptive activity. In some cases PETA workers unchained some dogs so they may fend for themselves, Sevilla said.
“While there are still more living animals than dead ones in the island, you could already smell the stench there,” she noted.
Pets were turned away during the initial rescue efforts in order to maximize space for humans aboard rescue trucks, she said.
The problem, Sevilla said, was a lack of initiative to include animals in the rescue plan. “They weren’t even considered.”