Dec 22, 2018

It was Friday when we visited a home in Paranaque where rescued dogs are being cared for right in the comfort of a domestic setup. It was raining and the constant traffic in Betterliving didn’t help either.

Lost, we asked a local manning a store where we could find the house that has become a shelter. He was unsure but he pointed to a gated complex saying it must be the place because there are big dogs there.

As soon as we rang the doorbell, a loud barking started. From outside, we could see cages upon cages, metal divisions, and of course, the dogs–small ones, big ones, those who barked non-stop and those who stopped after a few barks.

When the owner finally come down to greet us, the dogs started barking even louder. “Babies, quiet. Nandito na si mama,” Carina Suarez talked to her rescues as if begging a child to stop whining. “Quiet na please. Marereklamo na naman si mama sa barangay nyan kasi maingay tayo.”

The dogs seemed to have understood that and the barking soon died down.

This is the story of how Ms. Suarez started her advocacy of rescuing neglected dogs and how inevitably these canines have found a home inside her house and became a member of her family.

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Bakit ko naisipang simulan magkupkop?

That’s one question na kahit anong isip ko ’di ko alam kung bakit. Well, I love animals. Maramdaman mo, ‘I have to do something.’ Sa umpisa pakain mo lang. Pero makita mo, malala ’yung sakit. ‘Hala mamamatay siya if I don’t do anything now.’ And there are some cases na ’di mo na nakita, nawala na lang. ’Yung afterwards mapapaisip ka, ‘I could have done something.’ ’Yung iba naman I try to help them with food na may halong antibiotics. Dadaanan ko nang dadaanan. Makikita ko na lang na malakas na sila. Tapos inaabangan ka na lagi kapag dadaan ka.

Noong nasa Japan ako, when I was sick ang nakasama ko na dog was a pomeranian na nagkasakit din. I felt like siya ang sumalo sa akin. Siya naman ang muntik mamatay. Nasa ICU na siya, sabi nila wala na daw chance. I came home as quickly as I can from Japan to visit her in a clinic in Jupiter, Makati. Sabi ko ‘Dutchess, baby nandito na si mama.’ Semi-conscious siya and then tumayo siya bigla. Everyone there was crying. Sabi nila miracle daw. I was caressing her and telling her, ‘Balik mo [ang sakit] kay mama.’ Hanggang ngayon buhay pa siya. 11 years old. Ako ang nagkasakit ulit. At least, ako kaya kong i-express ang pain unlike them ’di nila maexpress kung anong problema so mas mahirap.

Vic, an aspin Suarez rescued. “We found him with rotting neck and embedded plastic rope. The wound near his throat after removing the rope is wide. I took him home when he was stable and continue with the long treatment of wound healing and growing muscle and skin tissues.”

A little over two years ago, nag-uwi ako sa bahay ng aso na na-rescue namin. Noon kasi nagdo-donate lang ako o kaya papagamit ko sasakyan ko, irerenta kung may dadalhin sa vet. Kapag wala pang dumadating na donations, ako ang magbabayad ng medical bills, tapos iniiwan nila sa ’yo. ’Yung nag-report o ’yung nag-coordinate ’di na nila kukunin, sa ’yo maiiwan, you have to pay for the bills. Tapos saan mo dadalhin? Alangan namang pabayaan?

Hirap lang maging beggar. Minsan naiinis tayo sa mga pulubi kasi ang kukulit ’di ba? At least ’di naman ako nangungulit pero minsan when you ask for help, tapos they respond with deaf ears? Reality. Ganun yata talaga. Pero if I were begging for my own benefit? Makapal na mukha ako. ’Di ako masasaktan.

Tapos when you rescue a purebred, maraming nagste-step up. Pero kapag mga mongrels o kaya ’yung mga itsura na talagang may sugat, buto’t balat? Goodluck. Kaya hindi ako nagre-rescue ng malalakas pa. Kasi maraming magre-rescue sa kanila, maraming naaawa. Kapag yung mga worst cases, kailangan talaga ng funding.

I also have a soft spot for senior dogs kasi dead end eh. At least ’yung remaining years, twilight years, masaya, malaya sila. Walang gulo, walang taong sasaktan sila. Kasi if you’ve seen them before, they lived a life of lagi silang itinataboy, kasi mabaho sila noon, galisin sila lahat. Kapag lumapit sila kung saan may food, pupukulin, sisipain. Kaya may mga defense mechanism sila na ngayon naaalis na with TLC. So nakaka-cope, nagbabago rin.

Dati nakakaawa kami sa bahay. Dati tarapal lang kami dito tsaka mga payong para ’di sila mabasa. So nag-improvise lang kami, may nagbigay ng cage. Kaya nga ngayon pinilipit kong ma-build ang sanctuary sa lakeside. I mean ang hirap nung pinagdaanan nila. Pinagamot mo, pinaganda mo, tapos ganitong buhay? Parang ako yung nasa-sad na I can’t give more.

Nabili ko ’yung land sa Cavinti, Laguna from my earnings working in Japan. It has been decades since I bought that 2,500 sqm. piece of land sa ridge sa taas ng Pagsanjan falls. But dahil nga nagkasakit ako, umuwi ako dito, ’di na sya nagawa, ’di na napatayuan kaya ginubat na. Two years nang trina-try i-build unti-unti kapag may pera. To the extent na I have champion pomeranians, pinagbili ko para maumpisahan ’yun slowly. Kasi naaawa din ako sa pamilya ko, nagsa-suffer lahat. Kasi ’yung mommy ko, may dementia. Tito ko may dementia din, tapos eldest namin may sakit, ’yung isang kapatid ko na-stroke.

 

For adoptions, ipo-post ko sa Facebook na up for adoption. Noon hindi ako nagpo-post. Some of my rescues are not even posted. Pino-post ko na lang yung magaling na. Kasi kung halimbawa may pera naman ako nung time na narescue ’yan ’di na ako magpopost for donation. Ako na lang kasi minsan ang sakit sa dibdib e.

I screen people, ask for IDs, for photos of their homes and if they have a job. ’Yung iba kasi estudyante. How will they take care of the dog? Sasabihin nila, ‘E sa bahay. May trabaho ang nanay ko.” Then the cycle goes on.

It’s a free adoption. We just want to make sure that the dogs are taken care of when they are adopted. A guarantee na papagamot mo siya. Kapag hindi mo kaya, call us. Kukunin ko.

Masakit when they go, pero ’yun ang sinasabing unconditional love.

Umiiyak ako when the dogs get adopted. Pero if it will be a home, a bigger space, and a better life for them, I’m willing to sacrifice. Kasi in here hati yung oras ko in between caring for those who needs more medical and emotional attention. Nakaka-guilty, kasi minsan hindi ko na sila malaro lahat, ’di ko na masuklayan.

A distinction between pain of losing one, or that pain and anguish and desperation of not being able to give time because other need you more. Ang hirap hirap. Masasabi mo na lang, ‘Sorry, baby. Good night na. Aakyat na si mama. Tulog na.

So come and go yung mga rescues. Kapag okay na nakahanap ng adopters, release. Once they are adopted naman, ina-update ko pa rin. I visit them.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

The last hug and kiss with Potchie. #adoptdontshop #dog #dogs #rescuedog #rescuedogsofinstagram #dogsofinstagram

A post shared by Carina Suarez (@carinaroyals888) on

Before, I really didn’t want to go public. Okay lang noon kasi may pera ako e. You don’t have to tell other people, gawin mo na lang nang gawin. Kasi ganon ako e, silent worker. Ngayon kasi no choice naman ako kasi kulang e. Kahit saan ka bawat galaw mo kailangan mo ng pera. Pero kung dedicated ka, you don’t count the cost, you don’t think of the dangers. Matapos mo lang ’yun, magawa mo lang, lahat na gagawin mo.

Minsan may magdadala dito ng dog food. Lately dumami kasi nga may internet. May dog shop who does grooming, so yung non-moving items na dog food binigay sa amin. Malinis pa naman siya, kesa itapon. Minsan may nagpa-padala ng mga gamot pero expired na.

 

Kaya tanggap pa rin ako ng trabaho talaga. I’m a makeup artist. I used to own an internationally-licensed travel agency. Dati tumigil na akong mag-makeup kasi sumasakit ’yung likod ko doing those. Pagod na pagod ka na. And I’m not really the healthiest. I have lumbar tibia denervation. Survivor ako ng cancer. Pero okay lang, sabi ko nga mas malakas ako ngayon kaysa noon. Maybe sa motivation tsaka knowing na may nagagawa ka, na you have to be strong for them. Minsan feeling ko nga the energy is coming from them.

dog rescue shelter paranaque
Ms. Suarez with Vic

There are several groups online na active, pero ’yung iba umaalis na nga ako. They want me to be part of their admins, or magugulat ka na lang member ka nila. There are those I can work with, mostly I cannot tolerate. I cannot work with groups. Kasi kapag may organization na nagwo-work for rescue, andami ninyo na admins, ’yung iba naman sa inyo, haven’t done the actual dirty work of rescueing themselves. Tipong papasok ka sa ilalim ng kotse? Uupo sa tabi ng basurahan kasi doon pumupunta yung aso? It’s so exasperating. Sabi ko nga maikli ang pasensya ko sa tao pero sa aso mahaba.

Maraming ring tao na they make rescueing their source of income. Madaming scammers. Yung iba nga naga-agawan pa. Hindi naman sila ang nag-rescue tapos biglang mayroon silang pafundraising.

 

What’s the difference between losing your own child and losing dog you took care of? Walang dog, walang tao. They are just the same kasi minahal mo. Kaya nagagalit kami sa cases ng animal cruelty. I fight sa barangay. Pumupunta ako sa pulis. Kahit nagmu-mukha akong tanga at times. Yung bubugbugin ako ng mga mama, ng mga lasing. Pretend akong matapang ako. Ire-report ko sa police station, I cite the law. Sometimes, maswerte ako. Sasamahan ka pa nila para kunin yung maltreated dogs.

dog rescue shelter paranaque
Cher, a blind shih tzu rescued from Nueva Ecijia
Max, a blind dog from Parañaque with a tumor on his side

Totoo talaga yung sinasabi nila. When you’re doing something for charity, you really have to go through the needle’s eye. Mas madali pa ang maging masama. ’Pag nagnakaw ka, nandyan na agad sa iyo ’yung kailangan mo. Pero to do good, especially when it’s not even for you, napakahirap. Parang tine-test ka palagi.

Ngayon nakakatuwa kasi may awareness na. Marami nang tumutulong. Noong araw walang Facebook o social media. Hindi man lahat maniniwala sa ’yo, may ibang makakakita ng truth behind it, those who would want to help.
May nag-message sa akin dati sa Instagram, what can they do daw to help? Sabi ko, spread the word, the awareness against animal cruelty to your friends, peers, family. ’Yung responsible ownership, kasi that’s where it starts. Care for your dogs, make sure na confined sila dahil kapag nakalaya, nasagasaan or nahuli ng pound that’s the reason why the problem goes on and on.

Peter who Suarez saved from a pier in Mindoro. He has a limping leg and has difficulty in standing.

Help fund Carina Suarez and her rescue dogs’ dream sanctuary in Cavinti, Laguna by donating through GoFundMe or by depositing to her bank account BDO Savings under Francisco Willie J. Suarez 004310124553

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TAGS: Betterliving Paranaque dog adoption dog rescue dog shelter