IFAW Rescuer Shares Experiences from Philippines Typhoon Efforts
International Fund for Animal Welfare Emergency Relief Responder Sarah Sharp filed this story at the end of animal rescue operations in the Philippines.
My colleague Jackson and I arrived in the Philippines on October 8th as the second wave of disaster responders. With the response in full-swing, we hit the ground running. In the lake-side village of Sukol the need for help was so great that our team had run out of both human and animal relief supplies on the previous day, so we returned to this area to reach all those in need. Our first rescue of the day was a kitten stuck on a hot metal roof, emaciated and dehydrated from the flooding ordeal. My colleague gave me a boost to get out of the murky flood water and onto the roof to feed her. Although skittish at first, she was so hungry that she could not resist the smell of food wafting up to her. When she came out of hiding, we realized just how thin she was, and that without a caretaker present, there was no way this little one would make it. Fortunately, we were able to capture her and get her safely into a crate, where she happily ate the rest of her food while awaiting her trip to the shelter.
Our most successful day that week was also one of the hottest. Dressed in full dry suits and riding in long narrow boats referred to as “bangkas” we split up into three teams and collectively fed 138 cats and 392 dogs, treated 12 cats and 24 dogs, and rescued two abandoned emaciated dogs. The furry faces of each and every animal we saw and helped are forever seared on my mind. At the end of this exciting and exhausting day, we returned to a remote location near the lake where Dick Green, our response manager, thought he had heard barking. Although the boat operator was not thrilled with bringing the small bangka into such deep open water, Dick insisted that the team investigate. Sure enough, we discovered a mother and puppy stuck on the roof of an abandoned shack that was sitting just barely above the water. The two were lethargic and their ribs protruded prominently under their skin. Dick swam from the bangka over to the roof, where he carefully climbed up. The roof was not very strong, and kept buckling under him, but he was able to rescue both of the dogs – first the puppy and then her mother. As we carried the dogs back in our arms, I knew without a doubt, that neither of these dogs would have made it if it were not for Dick’s careful ear and caring heart.
Our time in the Philippines was punctuated with rescue after rescue and the warm smiling faces of the Filipinos who were so grateful that we were helping both them and their animals. One of the days that we were out in the field, a man came up to me and said how lucky he felt that we were there to help the animals, because they are so often forgotten in tragedies like these. Ironically, I felt like the lucky one, to be part of such a special team of people trying to help those most helpless in a natural disaster – the animals.
Over the course of sixteen days on the ground, IFAW’s team reached over 11 flooded communities containing 15 ‘barangays’ or villages helping more than 3000 animals by feeding, treating and rescuing those in most need.
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