De Lima pushes for gov’t ‘animal rescue’ program during disaster


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Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has called on the government to draw up a program to rescue and transport pets and livestock left behind upon the onslaught of manmade and natural disasters or calamities.

De Lima made the call after she learned that apart from the pet dogs and cats, other animals, such as horses, carabaos, and other livestock, have either died or suffered severe burns following the recent eruption of Taal Volcano.

“I join the plea of animal rights organizations and rescue volunteers to save the animals left behind in the areas severely affected by Taal Volcano’s eruption. It breaks my heart to see these pets and animals helplessly suffering and dying,” she said.

 “We need to revisit our national disaster preparedness program to include the animals, including strays, who may need to be rescued, fed, and transported to safe grounds, especially those from owners who were forced to leave them,” she added.

Animal welfare group, Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), has sought for donations of cow feed, chicken feed, dog food, cat food, bottles of water, and pet bowls for their relief operations. 

Guardians of the Fur has also appealed for vehicles to transport volunteers and rescued animals, including horses and cattle. In a report, PAWS estimated that only 30 of some 3,000 horses from Taal Volcano Island have so far been rescued.

De Lima, who has taken in and cared for 13 stray cats in her detention cell at the Philippine National Police — Custodial Center, in Camp Crame, said it is also our duty and responsibility as human beings to take good care of the animals around us.

“We should remember that our shared sense of humanity also calls for the care and welfare of the animals living amongst us,” the Senator from Bicol said.

“As these animals, in their whole lives, have given us companionship, joy and even sources of livelihood, it is only just that we exert earnest efforts in ensuring that they also get ample care, especially during calamities,” she added.

More than 53,000 evacuees from Batangas and Cavite have reportedly fled the 14-kilometer danger zone around Taal Volcano. These evacuees have sought temporary shelter in only about 220 evacuation centers in the area.

Due to the limited space in these temporary shelters, animals and livestock were housed in makeshift animal camps where volunteers, including veterinarians, are expressing lack of centralized authority and organization.

Sometime in 2018, De Lima called out a condominium management in the Bonifacio Global City in Taguig to revisit its policy of imposing hefty fines to employees and residents who would be caught feeding stray cats in the area.

De Lima once expressed in a handwritten message that she misses the company of her 10 pet dogs. Last year, to ensure their safekeeping and care while she is in detention, she requested her relatives and staff to temporarily adopt some of them. (30)

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