When I was in fourth grade, I found a dirty stray dog that looked like a poodle hiding inside a bush. She had an injured leg but was friendly, so I found a cardboard box and carried her home. I dialed 411 (haha) to get the number of my local animal shelter, and they came to pick up the dog. I let them know that if they could not find someone to adopt her, I would take her in and to please not put her down. She was a cute dog, and I knew that some grooming would transform her. I called the shelter every day to inquire about the dog, and within a couple of days she had already been adopted. My entire life my dream has been to open a no-kill animal sanctuary one day.
I didn’t plan on becoming an animal rescuer when we first moved to the Philippines six years ago. It just happened as dogs that needed care moved in. Very soon we had 15 dogs, most abandoned by next door neighbors who moved and left them behind. During the pandemic I started doing rescue full-time because I was always home. I started taking on the most difficult cases, like dogs that were paralyzed, hacked with machetes, had flesh eaten away by maggots, and newborns that needed to be bottle-fed every two hours. It has been incredibly fulfilling, inspiring, heartbreaking, and exhausting all in one.
Animal rescue is challenging here where we have limited vet care, and lack of access to necessities like diagnostic tests and medicines. There are very few rescuers – less than a handful throughout our entire island — and a massive stray problem without any government programs other than free rabies vaccines. The most difficult aspect is perhaps financial, because there is so much need, but we get very few donations locally. So I pay for most expenses myself, but I have absolutely no regrets.
What does animal rescue have to do with parenting? Well, a lot actually! I love that my kids get to see me so passionate about something. Animal rescue is a calling for me and I want my kids to find something they’re just as passionate about too. I’ve rescued hundreds of animals, prevented hundreds of thousands of stray births through spay and neuter, and run a Facebook group to inspire more rescue and educate people on proper animal care. Animal rescue requires giving time, money, and most of all your heart. My kids have helped me every step of the way on this journey and have learned invaluable life lessons. They’ve seen unspeakable acts of cruelty at the hands of humans; unbreakable spirits; inspiring recoveries; unconditional love; heartbreak and loss. Through it all they’ve learned to think about the needs of others, the importance of giving back to the community, and living a compassionate life. And we were able to save a lot of cool animals along the way. Animal rescue has forever changed them, as it has changed me. You can read about some of our recent rescues here.
What are some of your passions in life? Do you share them with your kids?