CEBU CITY – A courageous policewoman with a soft heart for animals.
This was the character displayed by Patrolwoman Mona Lee Saludar, who risked her life to rescue a five-year-old dog from a burning building on Monday afternoon in Barangay Liloan, Santander town, southern Cebu.
Daebak, Labrador Retriever, hid under a table near the kitchen of Kingdom Resort while the fire engulfed the second floor of the building.
“He looked very scared and was already panting when I saw him,” Saludar said.
Daebak is one of the three dogs of resort owners Sim Sunbo and Han Eun Kyeung, both Korean nationals.
The owners were in Dumaguete City when the fire happened. The fire started in their room on the second floor where their two small dogs, a poodle and a shih tzu, were staying. When the caretaker noticed a thick smoke from the room, they opened the door and the two small dogs ran downstairs and got out of the building.
Daebak stayed at the ground floor and also ran away when the fire started. However, he got confused and went back inside the building.
Saludar said that at around 2 p.m., they got a call at the police station about the fire. When they arrived in the area, the fire was already big as it had spread to the second floor that was made of light materials.
Saludar asked one of the resort employees if no one was trapped inside and was told that Daebak was inside and no one knew how to get him out.
Saludar said she saw Daebak just sitting under a table and she immediately felt the urge to save the dog.
“Ingon ko sa akong mga kauban nga akong sudlon ang iro. Giingnan ko nila nga dili na lang kay hapit na mahugno ang second floor pero di gyud nako makaya nga ako lang syang pasagdaan (I told my colleagues that I will get the dog. I was prevented because the second floor was about to collapse but I couldn’t bear not to help the dog),” she narrated.
Despite the risk, Saludar decided to rescue the dog. The firemen wet her clothes to cushion the effect of the heat inside the burning building.
She admitted that she was worried that burning debris might fall on her but she was determined to save Daebak.
“Ako gigunitan iyang collar. Ni-resist sya at first. Di sya mobarug. Ako gigakos, gihapuhap unya akong gistorayahan nga mogawas lang mi aron maluwas sya. Mao to, nikuyog na sya nako (I held his collar but he resisted, he wouldn’t stand. I hugged him, caress and talked to him that we should go out so he would be saved and after, he went with me),” Saludar added.
Outside, the policewoman gave Daebak water and after a while, she wet his fur to lower his body temperature.
At past 5 p.m., the Korean couple arrived and Daebak, as well as the two small dogs, were reunited with them. The cause of the fire is yet to be determined. Damage is pegged at P1.5 million.
Saludar, 26, joined the police service in 2018 and after finishing her training in 2019, she was assigned at the Police Regional Office (PRO) 7. She was among the Covid-19 frontliners who secured locked down areas when the pandemic started.
In March 2021, she was reassigned to Santander Police Station.
The policewoman, a native of San Remegio town in northern Cebu, is from a family of dog lovers. She grew up with several Aspins, most of them are strays who came to their house to ask for food.
Now, she owns two Huskies, one Golden Retriever, one Shih Tzu-Poodle mixed and five Aspins.
Saving Daebak even if it meant risking her life was one concrete proof that she indeed is a true blue dog lover.