NEWS & FEATURES
Have you heard the woofest mews?
Have you heard the woofest mews?
By ALMA J. BUELVA
This is Wawa who is holed up alone in a boarding house in Marawi City with her two kittens. Their owner is worried they have already run out of food and water.
CLASHES between the military and Maute Group of terrorists in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur have victimized not just thousands of people but also animals, particularly pet dogs and cats.
As residents flee following the declaration of martial law in their embattled city on May 23, many were unable to take their pets with them.
In an interview with MetroPets, Maria Ninotchka Herrera who lives in Marawi City, recalled how she and her family fled to Iligan City when the fighting started, taking her Siberian Husky Maya and her Japanese Spitz Misao with them. During the arduous nine-hour journey that normally takes only an hour, Herrera said she saw other people evacuating with their cats and dogs.
Herrera and her dogs enjoying nature at the golf course inside Mindanao State University in Marawi. The city is presently the scene of heavy fighting between the military and a terrorist group. The photo was taken in the morning of May 23, 2017. At night, they would evacuate for Iligan City. (Photo from Notch Herrera)
A teacher from Mindanao State University (MSU) in Marawi City, Herrera said some of her friends were forced to hastily leave their pets inside the campus with food and water good for three days. But as the fighting drags on, her friends now worry about their pets and are hoping to return to the university to secure them.
“I saw my friends' posts in social media and they are worried for their pets as we really don't know when we can go back to the campus,” she added.
Riz Sunio, a college professor from RC-Al Khwarizmi International College Foundation, Inc. located in downtown Marawi, was also forced to leave her two black kittens and their mother in a room inside a private boarding house at MSU. She left them last Tuesday (May 23) with about 400g of cat food and water, which she fears her cats have all consumed by now.
“I wanted to bring them with me in Lala, Lanao del Norte. I got an extra backpack to put them in, but because we would only hitch a ride I was advised not to, as having cats (during the trip) might be bothersome for other people,” Sunio said who added that she vehemently argued on behalf of her cats in vain.
Wawa, the mother cat, gave birth to Ling-ling and Tom-tom a little over a month ago. “The kittens have just learned to eat solid food. I hope they can make do with their mother's milk for now,” said Sunio.
In one of her recent Facebook posts, Sunio expressed her desperate desire to fetch her three cats “when the coast is clear.”
“They are family to me and family is not supposed to be abandoning one another,” Sunio said.
Sunio's cats are holed up at a boarding house in PBB Extension, Barrio Dimalna II, Mindanao State University, Marawi City.
Here's a short video of Tom-Tom and Ling-Ling playing together before the clashes started.
Like Sunio, many residents were also forced to leave their pets behind. Herrera said those who left their pets in their homes fear that their hungry animals might risk stepping outside to scavenge for food. Pets that were left tied or caged definitely face starvation and won't be able to hide from the dangers surrounding them.
Herrera and her dogs are fortunate to have reached Iligan safe and sound. She said it was “unthinkable” for them to leave their dogs behind, just like one of their neighbors who also evacuated Marawi with their four dogs, she added.
Herrera said her two five-year-old girls, Misao and Maya, get scared when they hear gunshots and explosions. She hopes that their photo taken just before they evacuated won't be their last picture in their house.
There are no established animal welfare groups in Marawi City, Herrera said. A few private citizens have tried to rally pet lovers in social media to help the stranded pets in Marawi but so far nothing concrete has happened.
Marawi City also has its share of stray dogs and cats that are currently exposed to all sorts of dangers brought about by the military operations against the Maute Group of terrorists.
* One stormy afternoon at Taiwan's Houtong Cat Village