On 26 Sept. rains from Typhoon Ketsana flooded 80% of Manila and the surrounding areas. A week later, Typhoon Parma struck northern Luzon. Hovering in the region for over a week, non stop torrential rain from Parma caused landslides and flooded four entire provinces to the north of Manila. A dedicated team of NFA staff spun into action to help animals in the disaster relief.
Cumulatively, both typhoons affected 8 million people, destroyed billions of dollars worth of crops and property and caused the deaths of over 1000 people and countless animals. Several regions in Manila remain flooded to this day and close to 200,000 displaced persons and their pets remain in evacuation centers. Hundreds of thousands of domestic pets were abandoned in the frantic race to safety, and left to fend for themselves in the midst of the worst natural disaster to hit the Philippines in five decades. Many animals that were tied to fixed objects, a common practice in the Philippines, would have drowned within minutes, desperately pulling at their leashes as the flash floods rose above their heads. As NFA’s disaster relief teams sprang into action to assist people to care for their animals, heartbreaking stories of courage and loss surfaced.
One man living in a squatter camp in an area where 18 of his neighbours drowned, plucked his dog from the flood waters swirling around his chest and threw him onto a nearby house’s roof, then clambered up beside him where they spent the night in the pouring rain. In recognition of his dog’s tenacity he renamed him “Survivor.”
Another situation, more representative of the tragedy of these natural disasters, did not end as well. A woman in Pasig, an area of Manila that remains flooded, told one of our vets how, as the flood waters rose, she evacuated her house carrying her most important belongings – three of her four dogs. Unable to carry her fourth dog, she left him in her house, hoping for the best. But as she waded into the torrent the remaining dog, a bulldog, jumped into the water and tried to swim after her. For a while he managed to keep up, but the surging water soon pushed him further and further away. All she could do was watch as her exhausted bulldog finally gave up and was swept from her sight. She never found him again.
Amngst the utter devastation caused by the flooding, our teams helped both people and animals. Providing food was our top priority and we managed to feed over 2,500 hungry animals and quite a few people too. In many cases, dogs and cats had been abandoned in the flooded areas, so we arranged for nearby residents to feed those animals left behind. Often, our staff had to use boats to access flooded houses and then precariously go from roof to roof to get to abandoned animals. Wading through the filthy, smelly water carrying sacks of dog food became a regular occurrence when no boats were available.
Despite being the smallest international NGO providing disaster relief, Network for Animals staff and volunteers were the first to dispense aid in the flooded regions of Manila and the last to leave the field after helping animals in Pangasinan, the hardest hit province to the north of Manila. Our veterinary teams reached considerably more animals than any other organization and continue to provide follow up aid in the areas of Manila that remain flooded.
In summary, our disaster relief teams achieved the following:
• Distributed two and a half tons of dog food
• Provided thousands of collars and leashes to replace cruel makeshift collars made of wire and chain
• Vaccinated 1800 dogs against rabies
• De wormed 2300 animals
• Rescued 8 dogs and 2 puppies
• Provided veterinary care eg. sutures, mange treatment, basic wound care
* Visited numerous evacuation centres to provide assistance and advice in caring for displaced pets and livestock