3 stray dogs find ‘furever’ home in the heart of volunteer

Published November 20, 2020, 6:25 PM

by Czarina Nicole Ong Ki

  • The stray dog situation in the country continues to be a problem.
  • The sad reality is – the dogs are euthanized or shot if no one claims ownership over them within a few days depending on the pound’s regulations. 
  • Pawssion Project volunteer has adopted 3 strays to add to her 4 dogs at home.
  • In Bacolod City, Bach Project Ph launched ‘Clear the pound’ operation to save 75 unclaimed impounded animals.

If dogs really are man’s best friends, why does man treat dogs like they are unwanted members of society?

The stray dog situation in the country continues to be a problem. The homeless animals face heartbreaking conditions day in and day out. They roam the streets in search for food and shelter, only to become victims of roadkill and neglect.

With no homes to call their own, these dogs share the streets with strangers and leave dumps wherever they see fit. This upsets people so much that the dogs are reported to the local pounds, where they face abysmal living conditions. The strays are also impounded because of the threat of rabies. 

The sad reality is that these dogs are killed – euthanized or shot point blank – if no one claims ownership over them within a few days or depending on the local pound’s regulations. There are pounds, however, that keep the strays and offer them for adoption. 

Do these dogs deserve to be killed for simply existing? Animal advocates answer a resounding no.

Jenna Krizka A. Ras, 35, is a volunteer of the group Pawssion Project. Ras is an animal lover, and has opened her heart to a total of nine dogs. Two of them, named Strykr and Tankr, have already crossed the rainbow bridge. Four bullmastiffs have remained –  Bombr, 8; C4, 6; Rippr, 6; and JDam, 6.

Ras admitted that she didn’t plan on adopting any dogs. Taking care of four huge bullmastiffs is already overwhelming enough as it is. But when she saw Shibi in a depressed area in Parañaque City back in February 2018, something tugged her heart.

“At first I thought he’s in pain or he was a hit and run victim because he wasn’t moving,” Ras recalled. She noticed that Shibi did not even seem to care if passing cars will hit him or not.

“All passing vehicles literally had to sway off to avoid hitting him,” she said. When her car got near Shibi, she checked if he had any urgent needs. Seeing no sign of blood, Ras decided to drive off to work first.

She almost forgot about Shibi until she came back to the same spot around two in the afternoon. Ras was surprised because Shibi seemed not to have moved at all.

Ras began questioning the people nearby about Shibi’s ownership. A man suggested that she just take Shibi because the reported owner is known to hit his dog, and this was the reason why Shibi preferred staying in the streets.

Out of courtesy, Ras asked the man to help her ask permission from the owner. She felt uneasy as the owner looked at her from head to toe and kept staring at her chest. The owner eventually agreed to give Shibi away, but under the condition that Ras give her address “so maybe in time we can visit him.”

The man’s family members appeared uneasy the entire time, and were in a rush to get her and Shibi away.

Ras managed to keep her address private, and take Shibi to a vet.

“He stayed for a couple of days to get what he needed medically. When we got home, he was so grateful, I just knew –  he’s my boy,” said Ras.

The second rescue took place on May 2019, and like the first one, it was not planned. Ras and her husband were in their garage one night when they saw a tiny “thing” tangled on the gate next door.

They called the neighbors, but no one seemed to have a clue as to who the owner of the three-week old puppy was. They took her in for the meantime, and posted information online should the owners be in search for her. But weeks passed, and the puppy remained unclaimed.

Ras named the puppy Winter. “She’s our sweetest littlest one here now,” she said.

Ras’ third and latest rescue on April 2020, named OZ, was a long time coming. For years, Ras would pass OZ by on the street. A lot of the homeowners would take turns feeding him, since he would just stay in the same place and refuse to follow anyone.

When the pandemic struck, Ras could not help but worry about OZ. She went to his spot and found him missing, so she checked the local pound. Ras recalled feeling so grateful he wasn’t killed even if he’d been there for a month already.

She applied for legal adoption and took him home, but unlike Shibi and Winter, OZ took more time to warm up to the family. OZ continues to be aloof and afraid, and Ras finds herself crying not out of frustration, but out of pity.

“He must’ve gotten so traumatized that I could not take that away from his mind,” she said. “But every day [with us] is wonderful progress.”

Ras is hoping more people will open their hearts and homes to stray dogs instead of being partial to dogs with breeds. While chihuahuas, Siberian huskies, shih tzus, and pomeranians are undeniably cute, stray animals have as much love to give – if not more.

And contrary to misconceptions that stray animals will bite people and destroy their homes, Ras said it all depends on how their new owners treat them. “It depends on how you teach them. You have to have consistency and good energy,” she said. “If they will follow you because they are afraid of you, that’s not good. They should follow you because they trust you.”

“No one from my rescues ever destroyed anything from our house, they only play with each other and their toys. They are all so grateful and I think that they are proving to us, ‘Thank you po. This is all I needed – a home,'” she continued.

If people are not physically or financially capable of adopting stray animals, Ras said there are still many ways to help improve their plight. “Spread awareness,” she said. “Most people have social media so you should use that platform.”

People should learn that stray animals are not dangerous, nor are they menaces to society. They just need a little love and respect from humans.

While rabies is indeed an issue that needs to be addressed, Pawssion Project founder Malou Perez said on Instagram that killing strays is an inhumane act that must be put to a stop. “How many of these impounded animals being killed really have rabies? Will killing them solve the problem? No,” she stressed.

One of the best things to do is to spay and neuter dogs and cats.”Spaying or neutering them means fewer dogs and cats being euthanized and also fewer unwanted animals roaming our streets,” Perez explained.

Dog advocates also encourage people to conduct feeding programs for strays. Personally, Ras has donated her time and effort to Pawssion Project. She also has a bakery business called Krizka Cupcakes (@krizkacupcakes) and a portion of her profits go to animal advocacy groups.

Several other dog advocacy groups are pushing for the adoption of strays, and Bach Project PH is one of them. It recently launched the “Clear the pound” operation in the Bacolod City Veterinary Office at Barangay 53 so that 75 impounded animals will avoid the sad fate of being killed because no one is claiming them.

Volunteer and spokesperson Daniel Sam Salvatierra said that some of the dogs from the pound are not even strays as they are sadly surrendered by their owners who can no longer care for them.

Salvatierra said that these dogs deserve a shot at love and life, and the group is grateful for all the adopters and fosterers who opened up their homes for the rescues. “We want to give light and hope to all the animal advocates in the country and perhaps the world too,” she said. (With a report from Glazyl Masculino)

Jenna Krizka is flanked by her rescues Shibi, Winter, and OZ. She said her rescues are all so smart and well-behaved, and they are just so grateful to have been given a home.
Prior to adopting stray dogs, Jenna Krizka and her husband already have four huge bullmastiffs. She said that her original four dogs had no trouble making friends with Shibi, Winter, and OZ.
Jenna Krizka is a baker, and she makes delicious vegan cakes and cupcakes that are safe and healthy for both humans and dogs to eat.
As a huge animal lover, Jenna Krizka has tied up with the dog advocacy group Pawssion Project, and part of her profits go to the organization’s relief and rescue operations for stray animals.