June 19, 2006
Philippine Animal Welfare Society
After deciding that a conventional nine-to-five job wasn't in the cards for her, Anna Hashim-Cabrera followed her true calling—helping animals. She is the dedicated director of the Philippine Animal Welfare Society, one of the first three groups to be recognized as an HSI Animal Advocate in 2000.
PAWS has a long history of developing awareness and compassion for animals in the Philippines. Established in 1954 by British educator Muriel Jay, PAWS was lifted from dormancy in 1986 by Nita Hontiveros-Lichauco, its current president, and has since grown into an organization that boasts many notable accomplishments.
Among these are the passage of the Philippine's first national animal welfare law, the Animal Welfare Act in 1998, and the establishment of the country's first animal shelter, the PAWS Animal Rehabilitation Center. This center provides for more than 180 dogs and cats and runs an effective adoption program.
PAWS staff is comprised of hard-working volunteers who dedicate their free time and vibrant personalities to the cause of assisting animals all over the country and beyond.
PAWS' Dr. Dog program brings loving therapy dogs to children's hospitals all over the Manila metro area. These dogs have brought so much joy to so many ailing children that the Dr. Dog program has become a sensation.
At first, it was difficult to convince hospital staff to allow the dogs because of the misconception that they were not clean and carried bacteria. When an autistic child who had not spoken to anyone began to speak freely to Dr. Freckles, an original Dr. Dog, staff were convinced that animals were just the remedy these children needed.
A win-win program, Dr. Dog provides comfort and emotional healing for disabled children, and educates the public about the value of animals in our society. In the Philippines, there are still people who still support the idea of killing and consuming dogs. PAWS hopes to change that by demonstrating how beneficial they are to humans. Dr. Dog is a program run by Animals Asia; PAWS is Animals Asia's Philippines coordinator.
The accomplishments of PAWS don't stop there.
A multitude of achievements
In April 2006, PAWS was primarily responsible for a huge legal victory in a Northern Philippine province of Benguet. This province sought to take advantage of a loophole in the 1998 Animal Welfare Act, which allows the consumption of dog meat as a cultural and ritual practice, but not for commercial purposes.
PAWS gathered evidence that Benguet's dog meat trade sprung not from "cultural practice" but from commercial interests. With the help of other local animal welfare groups, a worldwide letter-writing campaign and persistent negotiations, the government of Benguet relented.
In late May 2006, PAWS met with the National Meat Inspection Services, a division of the Philippine Department of Agriculture. Some of the main goals of this meeting, sponsored by HSI, were to close the loophole, prevent circumvention of the law and establish clear methods for enforcing the law.
PAWS was also instrumental in pushing forward a federal ban on the production and sale of dog meat. PAWS volunteers have assisted in treating and rehoming dogs who are rescued from this cruel trade.
In May 2008, PAWS organized the training of Filipino vets with the support of HSI.
PAWS also participated in HSI's first international Spay Day in February 2008.
Humane Society International commends PAWS for its hard work and commitment to animal welfare. We expect even more great things from them, and look forward to their next achievement.
PAWS Animal Rehabilitation Center
Aurora Blvd., Katipunan Valley
Loyola Heights, Quezon City