Caring for man’s best friend #28StoriesOfGiving
Grace Melanie Lacamiento (The Philippine Star) - July 12, 2014 - 12:00am

CEBU CITY, Philippines – She was lying on the busy bridge of South Road Properties where motorists say they had seen her for three days before she was finally rescued.

Wounded and scared, Bridgette had a laceration across her throat. She did not appear to have been run over by a vehicle but seemed to have been tied with a rope around her neck and forcibly pulled, possibly in an attempt to kill her, but she managed to escape.

Apart from being injured, Bridgette was skinny and hungry. She was given food to eat but she seemed more thirsty than hungry, finishing the water rescuers had for her and ignoring the food.

Worse, she was a little bit aggressive. Rescuers suspected that she was traumatized and eventually found it hard to trust people. She was then brought to a partner clinic, given proper medication, and made to undergo rehabilitation.

Bridgette is one of several dogs rescued among the 70 abused and abandoned “aspins” (asong Pinoy) recently brought to the shelter.

They were all saved by Island Rescue Organization Inc. (IRO), a non-profit organization and animal rescue entity composed of 30 active volunteers and animal-loving people who are dedicated to helping the plight of animals in the region through rescue, education and advocacy.

IRO means “dog” in the Cebuano vernacular.

Lawyer Rosario Hernandez founded IRO in February 2010 to promote responsible pet ownership and humane treatment of animals, rescue homeless companion animals, ensure the implementation of animal welfare laws, and to establish the first rescue center and sanctuary in Cebu. It also envisions Cebu City as a no-kill sanctuary for dogs and cats.

IRO’s headquarters are located in Cebu City while its other chapters are found in Samar, Aklan and Negros Occidental.

IRO currently has two rescue centers. Around 70 native dogs and seven cats that were rescued by the organization are housed in Danao Center and Sanctuary, a 22-room, dormitory-style shelter that sits on a 1.75-hectare property. It is believed to be the first no-kill rescue center and sanctuary in Central Visayas.

There are also 40 survivors of dog fighting sheltered in the pit bull rehabilitation center, also called “The Bukid,” located in the mountainous part of Guadalupe, Cebu City. The 40 pit bulls were saved from a Korean dog fighting syndicate in Indang, Cavite after being caught by police authorities in December 2010.

Some IRO members also foster cats saved by the organization.

The rescued animals are regularly fed, bathed, vaccinated and taken care of. After nursing them back to health, they are prepared for fostering and adoption by genuine animal-loving individuals who sustain their needs and give them the affection they deserve.

Despite the growing community of pet lovers, IRO is in need of more support.

IRO president Annalyn Aizpuru says sustaining the expenses of the organization remains a challenge since they do not have a regular pool of funds to use for rental fees, water and electricity bills and for the compensation of caretakers.

“It gets to a point where we get money from our own pockets but still, kulang pa rin,” she said.

She revealed that monthly expenditures for both shelters usually reach up to P70,000, of which P40,000 is allotted for dog food. In a day, 20 kilos of dog food are consumed for each rescue center.

At present, IRO urgently needs to relocate the 70 dogs from Danao Center to the 500-sqm. pit bull rehabilitation center in Guadalupe to make them more accessible to volunteers and future adopters.

“We plan to centralize the location of the shelter. This will help reduce expenses,” Aizpuru shared.

IRO initially planned to transfer last June 15 but since they did not have enough resources yet, they postponed the transfer to July.

Despite a lack of funds, IRO manages to carry on.

“We will stand strong and will never give up. Many people are counting on us,” she said.

Aizpuru also called on pet owners to be responsible in taking care of their pets.

“Many pet owners don’t know the proper care of pets. They are like us, humans, too,” she said.

She further encouraged the public to be aware of the animal welfare law and actively report cases of animal abuse to the authorities.

Although IRO could not rescue all neglected and tortured animals, she said that the organization could help educate the public and encourage them to adopt.

“It takes a village to help. If you see a dog in need of help, you don’t have to call us. Do it yourself to help the animal out. Once everyone is educated, there will be no stray animals, no abuse, no torture,” she concluded.

(Editor’s Note: The Philippine STAR’s #28StoriesOfGiving is a campaign that turns the spotlight on 28 inspiring stories of people and organizations who devote their lives to helping themselves or others. Everyone is encouraged to post or “tweet” a message of support with the hashtag, #28StoriesOfGiving. For every post, P5.00 will be added to The STAR’s existing ‘give back’ anniversary fund. For comments and suggestions to #28storiesofgiving, email contactus@philstar.com.ph follow @philippinestar on Twitter or visit The Philippine Star’s page on Facebook.)

AIZPURU AKLAN AND NEGROS OCCIDENTAL ANIMAL ANNALYN AIZPURU BRIDGETTE CEBU CITY CENTER CENTRAL VISAYAS IRO RESCUE
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