Distemper leads to paralysis in dogs and even death. A dog infected with the distemper virus goes through a lot of suffering such as involuntary movements and seizures.
Parvo, on the other hand, weakens a pup due to continuous loose bowel movement, and can cause a pup’s death due to dehydration. Senior dogs can be infected with parvo if their immune system is weak. Lack of nutrition or food is one of the major factors that weaken the immune system.
Dogs can be protected against these two deadly diseases through the 5-in-1 vaccine which costs P300 per shot in Hinundayan, Southern Leyte where the Furry Tails Hinundayan Shelter is located.
A dog’s immune system, meanwhile, can be strengthened by simply providing good food and vitamins.
But lack of funds at this time prevents animal rescuers Donnabel and Jonathan Guinto from providing good food twice a day to 191 dogs in the shelter, and having the rescued dogs vaccinated.
They had to close their physical store when the pandemic started. Their online selling has brought in little funds for the maintenance of the shelter.
They need help.
About 80 per cent of the 191 dogs are now suffering from one of the following ailments: distemper, parvo, cough, and bleeding.
With one caretaker, they have been caring for 156 dogs in the shelter and 35 in their home. It is not an easy task as they have to feed the 156 dogs in the shelter and give medicine to those who are sick. Donnabel and Jonahan get home at past midnight, feed the 35 dogs in their home, sleep for 4-5 hours, feed the 35 dogs again, then rush to the shelter to help the caretaker feed 156 dogs and care for those who are sick.
Stray feeding in college
Donnabel, 43, and Jonathan, 48, have always loved dogs and cats. When they were in college in Cebu, they would always find ways to help stray animals. They would feed stray dogs and cats on the streets during their college days with what little they have or can buy with their allowance.
“Naaawa kami sa kanila. Kahit tinapay lang, ibibigay namin para makakin sila. Kahit papano, makaraos lang sila, ” said Donnabel. (We felt sorry for them. We would give them even just bread so that they can eat even just for a day.)
Alot, the dog
When they got married, they decided to move to Hinundayan, Souther Leyte where Donnabel was born. They didn’t have a dog then.
But one day, Donnabel’s brother brought a dog to their house The dog survived what is now called the Guinsaugon tragedy.
On Feb. 17, 2006, a rain-soaked portion of Mt. Kan-abag overlooking Ginsaugon collapsed and buried almost 2,000 residents of Barangay Guinsaugon, Saint Bernard, Southern Leyte alive. Of this number, 200 were schoolchildren.
The dog who Donnabel’s brother brought to them survived the landslide. They could not turn the dog away so they decided to keep him and named him Alot.
Alot is the first of many rescues to find shelter in the Gunto home.
Stray feeding in the market
In Southern Leyte, Donnabel and Jonathan also fed stray animals in the market where they buy their food every morning. They would bring rice with vegetables and feed this to the homeless dogs and cats. Sometimes, they added meat when they can afford it.
They would take pity on some dogs who had skin diseases or were weak, and would bring them home. They would treat the dog and would end up “adopting” them. Their hearts would not allow them to return the dogs to the streets.
After eight years of feeding strays and bringing home those who needed care, the number of rescues in the small Guinto home reached 35.
“Tuloy-tuloy na dumami na ang rescues namin sa bahay.Mga aso na tingin namin kailangan ng kalinga. 8 years of stray feeding until now. And we have already 35 dogs at home,” Donnabel said.
They had no plans to rescue more but something happened in 2020. The Department of Agriculture announced that stray dogs will be captured as part of the government’s anti-rabies program.
They understood that the government has to protect humans by making sure no rabid dog is roaming the streets but they can not allow all stray dogs to be captured and brought to the pound where most will die of hunger.
Shelter for stray animals
“Apektado kami ng sobra. Paano na po ang mga strays na pinapakain namin?“ Donnabel recalled. (We were affected by the news that strays will be rounded up. What will happen to those we are feeding?)
“Agad po kami naka secure ng lote last January (2020). Unexpectedly, napagawa namin ang shelter with not enough budget. Humingi kami ng tulong ng iilang mga kaibigan para sa fencing at paunahang purok for their shelter, “ Donnabel said. (We immediately secured a lot last January 2020. We were able to put up a shelter by asking for help from friends for the fencing and the structures.)
And then the government started to catch the dogs in February last year.
Donnabel recalled how she felt so sad and distraught whenever she would learn a stray they were feeding was caught.
It was more difficult when they would actually see the dogs being captured. If they could, they would run to where the dog is, get the dog, and bring the dog to the shelter.
The dogs are brought to the pound where most are not claimed by owners. In the pound, the dogs are supposed to be euthanized or put to sleep (killed) after three days if they are not claimed by owners.
This is the reality in animal pounds. If the pound is a kill pound, the dogs will be put to sleep after three days if unclaimed. If the pound is not a kill pound, the dogs are not fed sufficient food or are not fed at all due to lack of funds. The dogs will die of hunger, and even illnesses.
In the streets, the dogs can look for food. In the pound, they are caged in small spaces and not provided sufficient food, if they are fed at all. In pounds where no food is provided, the dogs will die a slow, painful death.
In Hinundayan, the captured dogs will be euthanized after three days if not claimed by owners. None has so far been euthanized because the Guinto couple rescued the dogs.
“We rescued the unclaimed dogs in the pound. They were the strays we were feeding, or dogs who were neglected by their owners,” Donnabel said.
Though there are 156 dogs in the shelter now, Donnabel said they still rescue sick, abused, and injured dogs who are reported to them.
However, they need help to provide food and other needs of the rescues.
“Our shelter is struggling every day. We need food and medicine for the dogs,” Donnabel said.
They try their best to continue feeding and caring for 156 dogs in the shelter and 35 rescues in the Guinto home.
How to help
To help the rescues, you can contact Donnabel at 09052602618 or send donations to:
BDO Savings account name DONNABEL GUINTO Account number 006130317459
Paypal: [email protected]
Any help will feed the dogs, provide protection for them via vaccination, and provide treatment for those who are sick.
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