NEWS & FEATURES
Have you heard the woofest mews?
Have you heard the woofest mews?
By ALMA J. BUELVA
IF dogs and cats and other animals could speak, they would demand a total ban on the use of firecrackers, especially on New Year's Day.
This is the key message that the Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) together with other animal welfare groups and environmental organizations tried to impart by staging a peaceful and informative rally to encourage the public to refrain from using firecrackers that severely scare and affect animals.
Held on Dec. 28 inside the Quezon Memorial Circle in Quezon City, the rally was joined by dogs of all sizes -- from Chihuahuas to Alaskan Malamutes -- who all demand one thing: a total ban on firecrackers.
Ana Cabrera of PAWS advised the public to secure their pets especially on New Year's Eve or at the height of the expected lighting of fireworks and firecrackers nationwide.
Deemed hazardous to the environment, fireworks and firecrackers pose danger not only to humans but to animals as well. Dogs and cats, with their acute sense of hearing, suffer from the heightened booming noises.
To help pets cope during the revelry, Cabrera said pet owners should try to exercise their pets early on Dec. 31 to spend their energies so they would be less fidgety and scared when the clock hits midnight. She also said it would help if pet owners would let all their pets inside the house, even for this special evening only, to protect them from the noise and dangers that pyrotechnics can cause.
"Create white noise by playing soothing music to help calm your pets," she added.
Cabrera lamented that stray animals suffer the most when people hazardously use firecrackers because they have no safe place to hide. Sadly, some people even purposely harm strays by throwing lit firecrackers at them, she added.
Representatives from the Animal Kingdom Foundation, CARA Welfare and the EcoWaste Coalition also joined the activity to drum up awareness on the ill effects of pyrotechnics to humans, animals and the environment.
THE New Year celebrations bring the good and the bad. The good that comes with having a fresh start is marked by a lot of noise which is harmful to animals.
Dogs and cats with their acute sense of hearing suffer from “acoustical violence” from fireworks and other devices people use to create loud noise to usher the new year.
Once again, the Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) and the EcoWaste Coalition are appealing to the public to consider the safety of animals, especially the strays, and try to shield them from air and noise pollution and the high possibility of getting hurt when hit by firecrackers.
“Our four-legged friends, particularly cats and dogs, suffer in silence as firecrackers and fireworks of varying intensity are ignited in the belief that such practice can shoo away bad luck and pull in good energy and fortune,” said Anna Cabrera, executive director of PAWS, said.
Echoing Cabrera's appeal is Aileen Lucero, coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition, who cited that fireworks and firecrackers have negative impact on human and animal health, not to mention the environment.
Cabrera said pets get scared of the loud noise and, as a result, suffer from "appetite loss, upset stomach and confused sense of direction making animals to go astray or get injured.”
To have a peaceful and safe celebration, PAWS and EcoWaste suggested the following pointers:
* Persuade members of your household to make your home a “no firecracker” zone.
* Politely tell your neighbors not to light or throw firecrackers near your home.
* Exercise your pets during the days leading up to the New Year’s Eve and in the next morning when the festivities are over and the smoke has cleared.
* Give your pets a physical outlet for their pent up energy due to arousal and stress.
* Manage the environment so it is as relaxing as possible and as less stressful as you can make it.
* Provide your pet with a safe place to take temporary refuge. If possible, allow your pet to stay in a quiet room such as a bedroom.
* Close the windows, put the curtains down and play a relaxing music to neutralize the noise from the outside to help your pets feel secure.
* Ensure your pet’s access to drinking water. Make her/him pee or poo.
* Do not yell or laugh at your pet when she/he is cowering or shaking in fear. This is a natural response to a threat that they do not understand and cannot avoid.
The groups also reminded pet owners to keep shopping bags, cleaning solutions, tobacco products out of pets' reach. In addition, pets should not be fed holiday treats such as chocolate, fruit cake, nuts and alcoholic drinks.
IN Chengdu, the capital of southwestern China's Sichuan province, one dog survived a boiling water attack and a drop from a high-rise balcony onto concrete after he innocently chewed on his former owner's cell phone.
Tuffy, who survived months of treatment at Animal Asia's China sanctuary, now lives with his rescuer, 30-year-old designer Yan Yingying who found the dying puppy at the bottom of the apartment building.
“The sight must have been so horrific – and I’m sure many people would have walked past and pretended not to see. But she didn’t. She took Tuffy to a local vet in Chengdu and paid for all his veterinary care. That saved his life,” said Animals Asia vet Emily Drayton in an article about Tuffy featured in Animal Asia's website.
The violence and cruelty the puppy received would have killed most people. When the burns cover over 50 percent of the body, animals are not expected to survive. Sixty percent of Tuffy's body was scalded but his fighting spirit and the kindness of Yan and animal workers helped him cheat death.
Yan sought the help of Animals Asia after getting substandard care for Tuffy at the veterinary clinic. Aside from being under tremendous pain, Tuffy could not close his eyes to sleep as the burned skin around his eyes fused together. The same thing happened with his legs.
Animals Asia is best known for rescuing bears in the most unimaginable condition from the bear bile trade. But there's no way they could turn down “a tiny naked pup, with a red raw body that looked like a huge blister, looking out at the world with the misery of an animal who couldn’t understand why he had been punished with pain,” said Jill Robinson, founder of Animals Asia.
Drayton added: “As a vet you are exposed to cases of animal cruelty and neglect. It is never something you get ‘used to’ – but after a while you can become desensitized. You learn to put your emotions aside and focus on what you need to do to help. But when I saw Tuffy all of that was completely obliterated. I was shocked and sickened to my core. I could not stop the tears from rising, there was no point. Never had I seen an animal in so much pain.”
Seeing how Tuffy was bravely fighting for his life, animal experts decided the dog deserves a second chance and would not be put down. They also decided that he deserves a good name.
“A tough puppy needed a tough name, so then he became our beloved Tuffy.” said Mandala Hunter-Ishikawa, also a vet at Animals Asia.
Tuffy received free topnotch care from experts like Dr. Kieren Maddern, of Veterinary Anaesthesia and Pain Management Consultants who shared ideas on wound care and pain management for Tuffy. Dr Alane Cahalane, a specialist surgeon from the Veterinary Specialty Hospital in Hong Kong, flew in for one day to operate and release Tuffy's fused legs and eyes.
Little by little, Tuffy got stronger although he was under pain medication and on bandages for months. Volunteers cleaned his wounds routinely and though it hurts him, Tuffy's healing soon helped him deal with pain and discomfort with the help of distracting snacks.
With his recovery full, Tuffy was released to his new owner, Ms. Yan, who stayed with the dog through it all.
“In the beginning of Tuffy’s time with us, his head was the only place you could touch him without causing pain. Ms Yan would cradle his small face in her hand and coo ‘guai guai’ (an affectionate term for good), and he would wag his bald little tail and close his eyes,” said Hunter-Ishikawa.
GOOD TRUMPS EVIL
Animals Asia people believe Tuffy's story, though it started as one about cruelty, is more about kindness and love.
“Time and time again we find that those who are cruel to animals are a tiny minority. Animals have the ability to bring out the best in people, and it’s true for Tuffy. His strength and bravery was incredible – but Ms Yan was equally determined he would live,” said Drayton.
Tuffy also showed everyone what a heart of a dog is made of: brave and full of love. Despite his ordeal, Tuffy still sees the good in people and is happy to be loved.
Meanwhile, Yan has found a way to hide Tuffy's large bald patches and scars by making special coats for him.
Animals Asia Cat and Dog Welfare Team hopes Tuffy's story can inspire a better future for millions of dogs. The group accepts donations to help them end animal cruelty.
Watch Tuffy's story video here.
IN JAPAN, a new scientific study suggests that dogs can tell when people are not being nice to their owners.
Using 18 dogs for the experiment, scientists allowed them to watch their respective owners each ask for a simple help of opening a box from two different strangers. As it played out, the dogs later learned to be indifferent to the person that refused their owners any help, even if that person is offering them food.
The dogs' ability to put their owners' interest above theirs proves that they can intelligently make social and emotional evaluations; proving once more that they are indeed man's best friend.
Aside from dogs, the other animal species said to have this ability is the tufted capuchin, but it;s not been established yet if it was out of complete selflessness.
The results of this latest dog trait study will be published in the journal Animal Behaviour.
* One stormy afternoon at Taiwan's Houtong Cat Village