Jun 13, 2018

It Started with Sam (ISWS) is an unassuming Instagram profile with a bold advocacy.

Visit its page and you’ll be greeted by dogs and cats in all shapes and states—big, small, sick, rehabilitated. Click on a particular photo and you’ll get to know the story of Boomer, a seven-year-old rescue Shih Tzu, or Amethyst, a female Schnauzer of the same age who’s up for adoption.

Its profile description says it has been rescuing cats and dogs for five years already. There’s nothing much about the charitable souls behind ISWS, so we reached out to them to know about their story. We got in touch with Marissa Alejandro Lopa, an interior designer, writer, and animal lover, one-fourth of the non-profit organization.

What’s the story behind ISWS?

We are four friends who, like other animal lovers, typically discuss on occasion how pitiful the situation is for cats and dogs. This went on for some time until Sam.

Who’s Sam?

My daughter told me about this German Shepherd her friend knew about that was just tied to a gate, obviously sick and left to die. She asked me if we could help the dog. I said, okay but find someone with a car to take it to the vet and I’ll take it from there.

I told my friends about it and asked if they wanted to do this with me and they immediately said yes. Sam was literally rotting away at the skin, but with proper medical care and love, she got better—enough to come home with me and live a good three years before passing away.

From Sam, we realized we could make a difference in a life even if it was just one animal at a time. We didn’t want to just be talking about it frustratedly. We realized we needed support and information from other rescuers as well. We also wanted to reach out and help others like us. We went out of our comfort zones and called ourselves #ItStartedWithSam.

How many dogs and cats have you rescued?

We can’t really count how many because we seem to be rescuing almost every day in one way or another. Currently, we are involved with 30+ cats and 20+ dogs. It’s pretty much like a continuous wheel of rescuing, fostering, and finding homes, then a new batch comes in.

What’s your process when it comes to rescuing?

Like I said, we’re four friends trying to help best we can so we try to help when there’s a call for help. Either we go ourselves or we use our relationships with our rescuers to get help. Then the animal is brought to a vet or we have a roving vet we can contract. Simultaneously, we look for a foster or permanent home.

How do you find people who’d adopt?

We have no real method for finding homes except by word of mouth or on social media. We have been very blessed that the best type of people has come forward to offer their homes. We have a questionnaire that adoptees have to fill out which helps us decide where to best place the animals.

Do you partner up with government agencies?

No, we don’t because there really isn’t any agency that deals with this problem. The city pounds have no funding and are in horrific states except for the Mandaluyong Animal Shelter which had a very good private sector intervention. We are hoping to replicate that in the near future with other municipalities.

Our pets give us so much joy. We wish people would see cats and dogs the way they truly are, living things like us. And like us, we hope to encourage others to take that leap with us. It has made our lives more meaningful and blessed by helping others.

We are also hoping for bills—toward responsible ownership as well—to be passed to monitor kennels and the treatment of these animals.

We welcome any amount of support. That is a step. And every step matters.


Featured image courtesy of Unsplash

Read more:

What’s it like living with 600 cats and dogs?
Why AFP puts “aspin” over “imported” breeds for K-9 dogs
PSA: Your tea tree oil might be depressing your cats and dogs

TAGS: cats dogs it started with sam nolisoliph rescue