The Philippines is home to thousands of different types of animals.
There are a total of 612 species of birds, more than 200 species of mammals, 111 species of amphibians, 270 species of reptiles, about 330 species of freshwater fish and nearly 21,000 species of insects that can be found throughout the country. More than half of these species are native only to the Philippines, and that’s just the ones that have been discovered and recorded.
Plenty of these animals are on the list of threatened or endangered species, with some insect species already most certainly extinct. Even without the threat of total extinction, plenty of animals face dangers in illegal poaching, breeding and various types of animal cruelty. From household pets to exotic animals, there’s no discrimination when it comes to animal abuse and cruelty.
In light of this information, it’s a relief to know that there are organizations dedicating to helping and protecting the country’s rich and diverse animal kingdom. Most prominent of them are the Philippine Animal Welfare Association (PAWS) and the Animal Kingdom Foundation (AKF).
PAWS is a non-profit organization dedicated to the protection and the promotion of humane treatment of all animals. They’re one of the various organizations that pushed for the Animal Welfare Act (RA 8485) as well as the amendments added later on.
The main goal of the organization is to help people understand why all animals deserve our respect and protection – beginning with our beloved companion animals.
The volunteer-based organization also runs the PARC or PAWS Animal Rehabilitation Center that houses dogs and cats rescued from cruelty or neglect. They rehabilitate the animals in hopes of finding them new homes and give them a chance at better lives. The shelter also doubles as a low-cost spay-neuter clinic and an animal-welfare information center.
The shelter was established in 2001, but even before that, PAWS have done work in humane education, campaigns and low-cost neutering. PAWS also actively campaigns against dogfights, horse fights and against wild animals being used for entertainment.
PAWS also has plenty of out-of-shelter programs, like the Doctor Dog Program and humane education sessions. PAWS’ Humane Education Team has reached hundreds of school children of all ages, and has modules for pre-school, elementary school and high school as well as lectures for students in university levels. Their aim is to help educate children on animals and the issue of animal cruelty.
The Doctor Dog Program, on the other hand, is an animal-assisted therapy program conducted by PAWS for the Animal Asia Foundation, a Hong Kong-based charity that seeks to end cruelty to animals in Asia. Volunteer humans and their dogs have done over a hundred visits to hospitals, schools and institutions in the country since 1998. By showing that dogs have done and continue helping humanity, the Doctor Dog Program aims to fight such cruelties like the illegal dog meat trade and dogfights.
The Animal Kingdom Foundation, a non-profit animal welfare NGO, on the other hand, has a more active approach to combating animal cruelty and eliminating the practice of illegal slaughtering of dogs. Together with the Philippine National Police, the AKF perform raids on illegal slaughterhouses and establishments that are involved in dog trading and dog meat selling. They also rescue slaughter-bound dogs via interceptions of deliveries.
The AKF have done its best to catch dog-traders and file cases against them, as well as rehabilitate the dogs they’ve rescued and find them a good and loving home. The founder of the AKF himself, the late Charles Leslie Wartenberg, had adopted an “askal” (street dog) rescued in one of their operations, the dog now known as Sweet. Sweet has since passed on in 2018.
Organizations such as PAWS and AKF are a vital part of the rescue, protection and conservation of animals in the country, with thousands of volunteers working together to create a more humane society.