During the Marawi siege, a small mission rescued cats and dogs

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Stray animals in Marawi City have found new homes through the efforts of individuals coming together. Illustration by JL JAVIER

Manila (CNN Philippines Life) — After watching a report on T.V. about how dogs would eat smaller cats in Marawi as the war dragged on, Ann Ramos-Tagle quickly pooled ₱10,000 from family and friends to help fund her trip to the besieged city to rescue the animals.

“Sobrang naawa lang ako doon sa situation nila. At the same time nalaman ko pa na hindi talaga humahawak ng aso ‘yung mga Muslim,” says Ramos-Tagle. “Haram ‘yun sa religion nila.”

Haram, a term used to refer to actions, objects, and images that are prohibited by Islamic law, includes adultery, premarital sex, and the consumption of pork and alcohol, among others. Some Muslims also believe that Islamic scripture disallows them to keep dogs in their homes, while others contend that the scripture accepts canine companions.

MARM 2.jpg For the first rescue mission in Marawi, Ann Ramos-Tagle, together with one volunteer, was only able to rescue two dogs and five cats. As her Marawi Animal Rescue Mission Facebook page grew, she was able to gather more people, and for their second mission, they were able to rescue 13 puppies. Photo courtesy of MARAWI ANIMAL RESCUE MISSION

Nevertheless, Ramos-Tagle reached out to people on animal groups on Facebook to see if there was anyone who wanted to accompany her to go to Marawi. She started her Facebook page, Marawi Animal Rescue Mission, to gather more people, but only one person from Ozamiz was keen to help out.

A live control operator at GMA Network, she was told by their reporter who was deployed in Marawi that the Animal Kingdom Foundation (AKF), an animal organization whose primary goal is to end dog meat trade, had carried out operations to provide food in the war-torn city. However, the foundation was not allowed to go in the battle area, so they would pass the food over to the military officers then have the military distribute the food to the animals.

“Iniwan lang nila [‘yung pagkain] doon sa street. Tapos hindi rin naman nakain ng mga animals,” she shares. “Pumunta kami doon without battle gear, nagpa-escort lang din kami sa military … kung ano lang matagpuan namin na hayop doon na pwedeng ma-rescue na kaya. Kasi meron din kaming dalang net para sa dogs.”

“Lumakas pa sana ang batas natin sa animal welfare kasi may giyera man o wala, sana mapangahalagahan parin sila.”

 

They found it hard to rescue the animals as the dogs in particular were intractable, but she says they also were under a lot of pressure to get out of the conflict area as soon as they could so a little bit of force was necessary to get the animals to come to them.

“Hindi rin naman kami pwedeng maghintay. Alam mo ‘yung hihintayin mo silang lumapit sayo tulad ng usual na parang kunin mo muna ‘yung trust nila. Walang time para dun eh,” she says. 

She stayed in Marawi for four days and they were only able to rescue two dogs and five cats. The animals stayed with the volunteer from Ozamiz, and Ramos-Tagle had them shipped to her to Manila after a few days.

MARM 1.jpg Ramos-Tagle got in touch with CARA (Compassion And Responsibility for Animals) Welfare Philippines, a nonprofit organization that advocates for animal welfare, and the organization has offered to provide veterinary needs for the rescued animals. Photo courtesy of MARAWI ANIMAL RESCUE MISSION

Feeling that she did not do enough rescuing, she went back to Marawi the following month to save more animals. The outcome was exponentially more productive, as her Facebook page enabled her to gather more volunteers and people who were willing to take the animals in. In this second mission, they were able to rescue 13 puppies and these rescued animals found new homes in Cagayan De Oro.

She later got in touch with CARA (Compassion And Responsibility for Animals) Welfare Philippines, a nonprofit organization that advocates for animal welfare, and the organization has offered to provide veterinary needs for the rescued animals.

The Facebook page is still up and running as she continues to monitor the animals that were rescued through the page. While there are individual missions such as the one she carried out and various initiatives by animal foundations such as AKF and CARA, Ramos-Tagle believes that the animal welfare act in the Philippines is not enough, especially when natural disasters or armed conflicts happen.

“Lumakas pa sana ang batas natin sa animal welfare kasi may giyera man o wala, sana mapangahalagahan parin sila.”

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For more information, visit the Marawi Animal Rescue Mission Facebook page.