Stray dogs for adoption
Five-month old Atlas looks like any ordinary dog that you see on the street, except for a mark around her neck that reminds of a painful journey.
A plastic straw, believed to have been used as her collar since she was a month old, pierced through her skin embedding itself deeper into Atlas’ neck as she grew.
Atlas was turned over to the Cebu City Pound last January after she was found fearfully hiding under a dirty kitchen in Barangay Guadalupe while the sound of firecrackers blasted through New Year’s night. She was reported as a stray dog.
Despite her injury, Atlas “was much tamed and sweet when she arrived at the city pound,” said Animal Health Division (AHD) Officer-in-Charge Dr. Jessica Maribojoc.
Maribojoc said that Atlas immediately underwent an operation to remove the plastic straw and a series of medical procedures to restore her health.
When her wound healed a couple of weeks later, Atlas was put up for adoption along with nearly a hundred other dogs housed at the city pound under the Department of Veterinary Medicine and Fisheries’ (DVMF) Adopt-a-Dog Program.
Atlas’ story warmed the hearts of animal welfare advocates which paved the way for finding her a new home.
On January 30, she was adopted by a newlywed couple from Carcar City, Cebu.
But while Atlas found a new home, a number of rescued dogs at the Cebu City Pound are not as lucky and are still waiting to come home to a loving family.
“I don’t want to kill the dogs because it is very unfair to them,” said DVMF head Dr. Alice Utlang. “It is not their fault that they are in the streets. They are supposed to be their owners’ responsibility,” she added.
The growing number of impounded dogs coupled with hopes to give these animals a second chance, paved the way for DVMF Cebu City to launch its Adopt-a-Dog Program in 2006.
Utlang recounted that when the program started 12 years ago, they would call up radio stations to announce that they had dogs for adoption.
They would also visit government agencies to conduct an adoption day.
But the rate of adoption has since increased as more and more people have become aware of the need to rescue stray dogs.
“Last year, 300 were adopted. This year, we’re eyeing 500 to 1,000 dogs to be adopted,” said Utlang.
This year, DVMF wants to speed up the dogs’ adoption so that more will be spared from euthanasia or mercy killing.
Instead of having only Monday as their regular adoption day, the agency plans to organize Monday and Friday adoption days in front of the Cebu City Hall building.
“We want to balance the number of those who are rescued to those that will be adopted so that there will be a lesser number to be euthanized,” explained Utlang.
Based on DVMF records, most of the rescued dogs were victims of abuses on the streets; while some were abused by their owners.
“Some were stabbed. There was another who was given muriatic acid to drink. Most of these dogs were hurt because they are “ugly” or native dogs,” Utlang recalled.
“Mas daghan ang ma-euthanize kay masakit na (A lot are euthanized because they are sick). Some of them have also become so aggressive. They have been in so much pain and struggle,” she lamented.
Since most of the dogs for adoption were native breeds, Utlang encouraged people to go beyond the physical, shrug off their breed biases, and nonetheless care for the dogs.
“When we assess them, some of the dogs are very friendly and sweet. It is very unfair for them especially because most of the impounded dogs are of the native breeds then we will just kill them,” said Utlang.
While waiting for people to come and adopt the dogs, they are housed and fed daily at the city pound.
Every afternoon, the dogs are taken out by the DVMF staff to allow them to socialize with people.
Before adoption, the dogs undergo vasectomy or ligation and are immunized and dewormed.
Those wanting to adopt dogs will need to present a community tax certificate and two valid identification cards.
“Our process is less strict but we make sure that we can still monitor them,” said Utlang.
The new owners will also be asked to bring the dogs back for regular deworming, check up and vaccination.
“Dogs are man’s best friend. It is loyal and God must have wanted this animal to be a man’s companion because of its innate qualities,” noted Utlang.
As the Year of the Dog arrives, DVMF hopes to see more Cebuanos caring for these animals while bearing in mind the responsibilities that this entails.
“Before owning a dog, ask yourself first, do you have the time? Do you have the space? Do you have the budget?” Utlang said.
“It’s like parenting. We have to bond with the dog,” she added.
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