New homes for rescued Taal Volcano animals
After Taal Volcano erupted a year ago, spewing hundreds of tons of suffocating ash and sending lava streaming down its sides, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) Asia’s animal rescue team was among the first on the scene. We had no way of knowing what a long and harrowing road lay ahead.
For nearly two months, we had teams on the ground every day ferrying animals off the volcanic island and dropping off food for others we couldn’t catch. Every trip to the volcano was unnerving, to say the least. We feared for our lives each time we crossed the lake. Our hearts raced whenever we saw smoke rising out of the volcano’s crater or felt the ground rumbling from the frequent earthquakes.
Several weeks after the eruption, we rescued Pedro, who could be heard barking in the distance. After climbing up the ash-covered mountainside, I reached Pedro and saw that his leg was hopelessly entangled in a vine. He was dehydrated, starving, and suffering from gangrene. Despite his pain, he wagged his tail from the moment he first saw us. He seemed to realize immediately that we were there to help him, and he licked my face as I scooped him up and carried him to the waiting boat. Although his leg had to be amputated, he has now been adopted by a family who loves him, and he is enjoying life to the fullest.
Then there’s Regan the cat, whose paws and ears were burned. Today, he is a happy indoor cat, who loves spending hour upon hour swatting a ball on a string. He also loves to play with the tail of his “brother,” Jonald—a senior dog who was also saved from Taal.
Aside from our work on the island, we also had teams feeding cats and dogs in lakeside communities surrounding the island where residents had been evacuated for weeks because of falling ash and warnings of an imminent larger eruption. And as the rescue operations wound down on the island, our work on the lakeside ramped up. As more and more municipalities were allowed to return home, our team shifted its focus to searching for animals whose families hadn’t returned yet, serving as a liaison with government officials and putting up posters asking people to report abandoned animals or those in distress.
By the time Metro Manila went into lockdown in March, more than 100 animals were being boarded at our partner veterinarian and many more were in foster care. That meant that for many months, Peta Asia staff and volunteers spent all day at the facility making sure that every dog and cat got the attention and exercise they needed. These were long and exhausting days. Transportation had come to a halt, so that meant the team had to walk to get to the building where they then spent hours rotating dogs outside in batches, breaking up squabbles, dishing up snacks, leash-training dogs, socializing and comforting frightened cats and dogs, scrubbing kennels, and cleaning out litter boxes.
The sleepless nights, the blood, sweat, and tears, were all worth it. The cages are empty now, and every animal has been adopted or their adoption is pending.
But while Peta Asia’s rescue efforts on Taal were an unequivocal success, there are always animals in need all over the Philippines. People who are ready to open their hearts and homes to a new furry family member can make a difference by adopting a homeless dog or cat from Peta Asia or another rescue group. You, too, can save a life.
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Ashley Fruno is the director of animal assistance projects for Peta Asia. Concerned readers can donate to Peta Asia’s emergency rescue team at PETAAsia.com. Anyone interested in adopting an animal can contact Peta Asia’s adoption team on Facebook via the Ampon Alaga page.
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