In Lara’s Ark, no animal is unloved
MANILA, Philippines — Susan Lara has been saving animals for as long as she can remember.
She started with pets – dogs, cats, birds – the ones that were neglected by people she knew, animals she could care for on her teenage allowance.
Later, with her daughter Tammy Yao, Susan will save animals – lame dogs, malnourished cats – from the streets and bring them home. Sometimes they even received pets abandoned by families who could no longer take care of them. These animals quickly became part of Susan’s family.
“Animals in need always seem to find me. Lame birds land on my balcony. When I dive, the sharks come next to me to show the hook in their body. Supposedly aggressive dogs come to me to show me their injuries,” she told Rappler.
From Taal and beyond
When Taal Volcano erupted in early 2020, it was Susan’s turn to reach out to animals in need. The eruption left hundreds of thousands injured and homeless, including animals.
“We rescued more than 200 different animals out of the blue over a three-month period,” Tammy explained.
Piling into cars and driving in a convoy, Susan, Tammy and their friends headed for Taal with no set plan. The only thing they knew was that they would save animals.
“We had never been involved in so many rescues before, and obviously we couldn’t keep all 200 dogs. So, for the first time, we decided to open our rescue and adoption operations to the public,” he said. she declared.
Just like that, their animal shelter was born. They called it Lara’s Ark.
“‘Lara’ is not only my mother’s last name, but also represents the ‘liberation of abandoned and rescued animals,'” Tammy explained.
Lara’s Ark currently has two shelters, one in Mandaluyong, Metro Manila, and another in Nasugbu, Batangas. They currently care for about 100 dogs. Some are up for adoption, while others are still in rehabilitation. A few have become permanent members of their pack – mostly senior rescuers who are often bypassed by adopters for younger puppies.
“[Senior dogs] are often overlooked by adopters, and we want to make sure they get all the treatment and care they need during their golden years,” said Kai Yulo, who manages the group’s social media.
And it’s not just dogs, they also collect cats, pigs, horses and cows.
With so many animals to care for – most of them still recovering from trauma – one can imagine life at Lara’s Ark getting quite hectic. From being neglected and abandoned, their rescues become the first priority.
“A typical day revolves around animal schedules: feeding, grooming, exercise, socialization,” Kai explained. For their team, saving a dog from a bad situation is just the beginning. “And that’s probably the easiest part!”
“Rescue requires so much more effort behind the scenes. It’s about healing – psychologically, physically, mentally, emotionally,” she said.
A hundred dogs is a lot by any measure, but there are even more dogs that Lara’s Ark has had to say no to – not because they don’t want to save them, but because they want to be. rescuers.
“We can only save as many dogs as our facilities can accommodate without compromising the health and well-being of our pack,” Kai said.
She emphasized the importance of adoption and how it affects more than the life of the animal finding a new home: “Dogs come into the shelter much, much faster than they leave us. And that’s why adoption doesn’t just save one dog’s life, it makes room for us to save another!
The underrated aspin
In the Philippines, pet adoption is not the norm. If a person wants to get a dog, they will probably buy a purebred puppy from a friend, or go online and find a backyard breeder. So few people would think of having an aspin (asong pinoy), let alone a saved aspin.
Even with celebrities like Heart Evangelista or Sharon Cuneta lending their star power to the cause of Aspin adoption, native breed dogs have yet to eclipse the popularity of Corgis, Frenchies or Shih Tzus.
“There is always a very shameful narrative when it comes to helping Aspins. Many rescue groups post gruesome and graphic photos of the dogs,” Kai said.
“While they reflect the reality of what we do, there is also another reality to save: the joy, hope and resilience of animals, and the compassion and dedication of the people who saved them” , she said. “We don’t want people to adopt out of guilt, but rather inspire them to adopt because of the love and happiness that aspins can bring them.”
For the Lara’s Ark team, Aspins are an underrated race.
“The Aspins are not just smart on the street, but smart in every way. They know how to navigate the world and understand people on a very deep level,” Kai said. Other than that, they are hardy and well adapted to the local climate, which makes them less prone to health issues that plague imported dogs.
In the same intuitive way dogs can smell kindness in humans, Kai said the rescued asps are “full of love and gratitude.”
“The rescuers know you saved them, and they will happily spend the rest of their lives thanking you,” she said.
She added that asps also have quite a history – they may be among the “village dogs” that descend from the first dogs that accompanied humans 15,000 years ago.
how love heals
While they need adopters, the Lara’s Ark team wants people to know what they’re getting into before bringing a dog home. After all, caring for a dog can be fun, but it’s not always easy.
“Do your research and understand the commitment! Dogs can live up to 15 years, so don’t take one on a whim. Make sure you are ready and able to support them financially, emotionally, mentally and physically. Dogs need exercise, food, regular vet checkups, companionship, patience, training, space, love – the list goes on,” Kai said.
For those not ready for a big commitment, foster care is another option.
“Foster care is part of our rehabilitation process. It’s a chance for our shyest and most traumatized dogs to have some one-on-one time with you to overcome their fears and adjust to a family environment. As an adoptive mother or father, you will give them the care they need to heal inside and out,” she said.
“Remember, foster care is for people who have the time, the means and the heart to work with rescuers who need more help than others,” she added. .
As of this writing, Lara’s Ark has between 20 and 30 puppies and dogs up for adoption. Most of them have been through hell, but you can never tell by their shiny coats and shining eyes – a testament to what can happen when those who have been left behind become the center of someone’s world. a.
Witnessing this – “how love can heal” – is what keeps the Lara’s Ark team going despite the challenges they face as animal rescuers.
As Kai said, “To see our rescues recover with us and to see them thrive in their forever homes is all worth it.” – Rappler.com