Save them from sure death

Oct 07, 2017

It was a pleasure to interview the Executive Director of PAWS, the Philippine Animal Welfare Society, Ms. Anna Cabrera. We learned so much from that interview which B&L originally got merely as a feature of one of the segments on the show, Pets & Friends.

PAWS was established in 1954 by a British woman but the lady did not stay long enough to see it through. A caring Filipina, Ms. Nits Lichauco took over the reins, wanting to have a Filipino group take over the operations of the non-profit organization whose mission was not only to protect animals from cruelty or neglect but to promote a humane society. According to Anna C., the misconception is that PAWS is there to rescue all stray cats and dogs from cruelty. For PAWS, their rescue missions are only a reaffirmation of the existence of the problem and they would rather get to the root of it through education. Their school programs start off with young minds who can still be more easily molded. They also go down to the local government units, most of whose programs are limited to providing anti-rabies shots, overlooking the importance of spaying.

The City Pounds do their work of collecting stray dogs and cats, but not to be spayed. The grim reality is these animals stay in the pounds only for a few days but are put to sleep, euthanized by a licensed veterinarian with an injection of sodium pentobarbital. Many think that these animals are prepped for adoption by the City Pound which is a far more pleasant idea to float to the public, but PAWS is certain that this is not what is actually happening. In the smallest city in the metro, Marikina City, their records show that they put down an average of two hundred dogs every month. Can you imagine the numbers in big cities like Manila and Quezon City? Anyway, PAWS diligently monitors the condition of these animals in the Pound because they are supposed to be fed and cared for until they are put down.

PAWS occupies a big enough space in Quezon City, a no-frills complex that is kept clean and efficient by a skeleton staff of less than 10. Their resident veterinarian just recently resigned and they are now on the lookout for a replacement. The animals though look healthy, well-behaved and well-cared for. They have areas called Dog Run 1 & 2 which contain the adoptable dogs; the Recovery Area where dogs that are aggressive towards other dogs are kept and rehabilitated; and the Quarantine Area where the newly-rescued animals stay. For cats, they have five areas: the Kittenery, Cattery, Special Needs, Sick Bay and Feline Quarantine.

Although the Center's roster has over a thousand volunteers, Anna says that their core volunteers number only between twenty and thirty. These men and women come regularly on weekends to bathe the animals, walk all the dogs, feed and care for the cats and dogs, and PAWS is very grateful to them. If not for these dedicated volunteers, the Center will never be able to cope with the over three hundred animals in the shelter: 236 cats and 82 dogs rescued and rehabilitated for eventual adoption. It was PAWS that coined the words Aspin (asong Pinoy) and Puspin (pusang Pinoy) for these rescued animals, rejecting the more popular Askal (asong kalye) and Pusakal (pusang kalye) because of the negative connotation of "Kalye" in the terms. Among their volunteers also are lawyers who handle and pursue the numerous cases filed by the Society for animal cruelty and neglect free of charge.

Many have come to adopt these cats and dogs to give them a new lease in life, among them celebrities like Ms. Sharon Cuneta and Heart Evangelista but there are still over 300 waiting for a caring home. Although they hope to be able to have all these animals adopted by caring families, PAWS is actually very discerning, careful to release these animals they have lovingly rehabilitated to responsible pet owners. Adoption fees are very reasonable: P1,000 for dogs and P500 for cats but the adoption process is not that simple. First, an adoption counsellor will interview the prospective owner to determine his/her lifestyle and capability to adopt and possibly find the right match for them. Senior citizens, for instance, may not be the right match for young, energetic dogs, but docile cats may be a good idea. After this, a PAWS staff member will do an ocular inspection of your house, maybe even ask about your future plans to ensure a stable environment for the adopted animal. Dog adoption requires a minimum of three visits while cats require only two visits so that one can get to know the animal better before they release it for adoption. And, they never release any animal that is not spayed or neutered for adoption. Last year, PAWS adopted out only thirty eight dogs and forty two cats, a small percentage of its total population but a much better rate of success than several years ago.

Spaying and neutering are at the core of their mission because not only will these address animal over- population and rabies but will also address the issue of irresponsible pet ownership. PAWS cannot over-emphasize the value of spaying and neutering, and they have these services at the center at a very affordable cost.

The PAWS Animal Rehabilitation Center (PARC) was started way back in 2001. No, they do not own the land where the office and PARC are located, they are merely renting the land. The Center is running at a cost of P280,000.00 a month, a staggering amount considering that they are running only on donations, occasional grants and the fun events they organize regularly like Pet Blessings and the annual Pet Halloween Party. They are constantly in need of vet products and animal food and they hope more people will donate cat food because cats outnumber the dogs in the facility. They are also badly in need of old newspapers, bleach and powder detergents to keep the place clean and sanitized. Let's do our share for these Aspins and Puspins and keep in mind that we have a duty to take care of the animals under our care.

Mabuhay!!! Be proud to be a Filipino.

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About the Author

Ray Butch Gamboa graduated from the College of Arts and Letters of the University of Sto. Tomas. It was a course that should have been preparatory to a law degree, but the call of broadcasting aborted his plans.

At the age of 16, while still a student, Butch tried his hand at disc jockeying, landing a job at Mareco Broadcasting Network's AM stations DZBM and DZLM. From there, Butch moved on with his illustrious career as a popular disc jockey, riding the airwaves of Bob Stewart's middle-of-the-road music at DZXX, and ending his disc jockeying career at ABS-CBN's DZYL and DZQL.

From there, he stayed on with ABS-CBN, covering live the proceedings at the Manila Stock Exchange and eventually entered into the world of television sales as an account manager for the premier channel of ABS-CBN Channel 2.

In the early 70's, at the outbreak of Martial Law, Butch was one of the thousands of professionals who woke up jobless when then President Marcos declared the new status of the nation. With the closure of ABS-CBN, Butch ventured into different fields outside of broadcast. He tried his hand and with ease and success at export (Costume jewelry), real estate (brokerage), and restaurants (fast food).

In 1987, after the revolution, with the broadcast industry back to its free state, and with its irresistible call ringing in his ears, Butch made his inevitable comeback and pioneered in a local motoring show, producing Motoring Today on Channel 4 and co-hosting with local motor sports' living legend Pocholo Ramirez.

After 4 years, he ventured into another pioneering format by producing and hosting Business & Leisure, which was originally aired on ABS-CBN's Channel 2. The format eventually espoused similar ones in other different channels. But the clones in due course faded away leaving the original staying on airing on Channel 4 and eventually on Shop TV on Sky Cable's Channel 13.

The following year, the pioneering spirit in Butch spurred him to produce another TV show, Race Weekend, also on Channel 4, covering circuit racing at the Subic International Raceway after the motor sport's hiatus of 17 years. But when similar shows with duplicated formats sprouted, he decided to give way and ended the program after a year, although still enjoying unparalleled viewership.

In 1998, when the local automotive industry was in a slump, Butch contributed his share to help the ailing industry by producing another popular motoring-related show, this time exclusive to the automobile and its industry—Auto Focus, which became a vehicle for local automotive assemblers and importers to showcase their products and dwell on the industry's latest technological developments.

In 2003, Butch teamed up with his brother, Rey Gamboa who was a former Shell executive and presently one Philippine Star's business columnist to co-produce and co-host the TV show Breaking Barriers on Channel 13. It is a talk show that features guests who are in the news and in the middle of controversies. The program ventures to draw deeper insights into current issues to learn how they impact to our daily lives.

Today, Motoring Today on its 28th year of service to the general motoring public still enjoys its unprecedented loyal vierwership nationwide while Auto Focus, after 16 years has firmly established its niche viewership among automobile enthusiasts and on the other hand Business & Leisure is on its 24th year dishing out current business issues and lifestyle features.

Today, aside from writing weekly columns for the Philippine Star (Motoring Today on Wednesdays and Business & Leisure on Saturdays) and executive producer / host of weekly TV shows (Motoring Today, airs Sundays on Solar Sports Channel 70, Business & Leisure, airs Tuesdays on Shop TV, Sky Cable Channel 13 and Auto Focus airs Thursdays on Shop TV, Sky Cable Channel 13, Ray Butch Gamboa is currently the Chairman and CEO of Sunshine Television Production and Marketing Services Corp., President of Gamcor Management and Development Corp., Chairman of Asia-Pacific Realty Corporation, President and Chairman of Socio-Communication Foundation for Asia and Founding Chairman of the Society of Phil. Motoring Journalists (SPMJ)