It has been a while, over a month, since my last post. Shameless backsliding, I must confess. I can't even claim writer's block since I have been writing a lot, opining on newspaper readers' comments, social networks, emails and tete-a-tetes with brethren animal lovers on animal welfare issues particularly in the Philippines.
The standout, like a wart on a bald head, concerns the rescued pit bulls in San Pablo, Laguna, over 250 of them, used for fights held locally but broadcasted via internet to a betting and cheering public in Korea. The syndicate, ran by Koreans, was busted at the end of May 2012 by the Philippine National Police after months of surveillance. Much to their chagrin, the authorities discovered that the individuals they arrested in December 2011 on a similar raid were the very same ones running the San Pablo fights--while out on bail. Evidently, they have no fear of the law, counting on turnstile justice, in and out, easy peasy. Well, the Koreans nationals are now under custody, facing a stew of animal cruelty and gambling charges plus deportation for desserts. We'll see what happens to them.
The fate of the dogs, however, now depends largely on the selfless efforts of local animal rights groups like Compassion and Responsibility for Animals (CARA) and Island Rescue Organization (IRO). They took over the reigns from the Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) who were the first rescuers at the scene. Since then, private citizens, vets from a local veterinary school, and other dog-lovers have come out of the woodwork to chip in. You got to love these people, those who step up to the plate and bat for what they believe in. They are a cut above the curious onlookers who feign concern with their best wishes and prayers, but wouldn't have their time taken up nor be separated from any sum of money to help the animals directly...I realize that It takes a while to get people into gear; it requires a consistent effort to move people into a participatory role at any level. Well, the first raid on a dog fighting compound occurred months ago in December 2011. The raid in San Pablo came three months after December. For those who have not donated nor volunteered in person, it's time to get going.
At this time, there are 214 remaining dogs. There simply isn't enough fluid money and manpower to deal with the demands for food, immediate and long-term medical care, housing, and relocation to a better environment. There have been private donors, like myself, but the big international animal welfare organizations have been silent. I thought they would be trampling over each other for this one. I expected the cavalry to arrive, to the rescue with standards fluttering in the wind and their wild-eyed horses at full gallop. I guess not. I get this picture in my mind of them watching the column of dust and smoke rise from a distant horizon while sitting in their saddles, unmoved.
As it stands, the people at the site, those who are doing the grunge work, they limp along and hack away at the problems with whatever resources they have. Overwhelmed, they have no better odds than chipmunks caught in a forest fire.
Beth Sizemore, the President of the Friends for the Protection of Animals (FPA), traveled in early April from California to Samar, Philippines and from there to San Pablo, Laguna to volunteer and get a first-hand look at the situation. She contracted five men from Samar to come with her and become caretakers, to remain with the dogs for a certain amount of time in San Pablo. Beth emailed the board of FPA on April 11th and I quote :
" Hello my friends!
Had a chance to connect to an internet just now and would like to update you on the pit bulls in laguna. there are 222 dogs alive. we do headcount in the morning and in the afternoon during feeding time. i stayed in the 'bahay kubo' at the site for 3 days with the 5 caretakers who came with me. as of yesterday, 3 additional caretakers came with nena from cebu, so there are 8 total caring for the pitbulls. there is one local guy who does labor work, ie, moving drums and driving chains to the ground so the 56 dogs that are in tiny cages are moved out of there. we are able to take out of the cages, since saturday, 23 dogs and working hard to get the remaining out. before saturday, there were 223 dogs alive, and sunday, one dog died because of heat stroke, so 222 remaining. monday, from 11: am. to 3:00 p.m., continuously, we kept hosing down drums and the ones that the hose can't reach we use buckets to wet the drums and ground to cool off the dogs. i had some of the older dogs directly hit by the sun moved to a shaded area. sorry, i have to go now. "
Here is a website for the Friends for the Protection of Animals (FPA). I served as Executive Director. We had been relying on our Facebook page so far until this last weekend when I received information that would-be donors wanted to see a functioning, official website before they could comfortably begin donating through us. Fair enough. I understand their trepidation. We could just be a bunch of clowns raking in the dough. We all have to be careful with our money. So, over the weekend, we rolled up our sleeves and wrote up the website... and we'll keep it up.
If you are located in the United States, donating through FPA makes sense because we offer a tax deduction for your donation. We are a 501 c(3) organization. Several donors have gone through us last December when the first raid took place on a dog fighting ring in Indang, Cavite. Those dogs have gone a long way. They are now in a sanctuary outside Cebu, but they still need our support as they continue on their rehabilitation. You can donate towards the Laguna Pit Bulls or the Cavite Pit Bulls. Both are good causes.
Otherwise, you can donate through CARA's Donation Page. Scroll down to the bottom for instructions on Emergency Rescue Donations. Every dollar or peso helps. No amount is too small. There are dogs whose lives depend on it.
Life's the pits for these Pit bulls
Worlds largest pit bull fighting ring