Feeling Helpless About The Animals of Taal? Here Are Things You Can Do

Within just a few hours on January 12, PHIVOLCS raised the alert level of Taal Volcano from two to three and then four. One of the most active volcanoes in the Philippines, Taal is located about 37 miles (60 km) south of Manila.

Taal Volcano Island during peaceful times. This photo was taken during a hike in February 2019.

It’s been days since the volcano spewed ash up to nine miles (14 km) into the air. If you’re feeling daunted, especially after reading news reports about the thousands of animals that died and were left behind, there are many things you can do to help.

1. Donate

This is the easiest and fastest way to help. Start with reputable animal welfare groups who are used to handling multiple animal rescues and disasters. They have a systematic way of collecting donations and distributing the funds. You can be sure your donations (in cash or in kind) will be accounted for. Here’s a running list:

Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS)
PAWSsion Project
PETA Asia
Animal Kingdom Foundation
PPBCC Philippine Pet Birth Control Center Foundation
SPAR Strategic Power for Animal Respondents – Philippines
Philippine Animal Rescue Team (P.A.R.T.)
Animal Rescue PH
Second Chance Aspin Shelter Philippines Incorporated
CARA Welfare Philippines

 

2. Focus on the rescue stories

Circulating online are videos of dead, wounded, and dying animals on location. I saw two videos before I decided to stop watching. As an animal lover (I have 15 rescue animals), this breaks my heart and I’m sure it made you emotional as well. For my animal-loving friends in the mental health community, I understand this can be depressing and triggering. It’s okay to temporarily hide those videos. Try focusing on the rescue videos instead. The stories of hope will uplift your spirits and inspire you to help out.

 

3. Volunteer, but follow the protocol

It’s not as simple as running to Tagaytay and Batangas and letting the poor dogs and cats jump into your open arms. The animal welfare groups are more experienced and equipped to handle bulk rescues, especially with the Taal situation where they need to coordinate with the LGUs to get access to hazardous zones and closed roads.

For emergencies and disasters, animal welfare groups usually tap their tried-and-tested volunteers first, because they already master the protocol. But some groups now need more manpower. New volunteers have to first fill up the online forms or call their hotlines before going through a screening process. It’s best if you have a pre-exposure rabies vaccination because you will be susceptible to all kinds of animals that may bite or scratch you. For those without vaccinations, you may be relegated to other tasks that don’t involve directly handling animals. If you’re serious, prepared, and ready to volunteer, follow the protocol of each animal welfare group.

 

4. Spread only accurate and useful information

There’s already too much noise online—tactless jokes and memes, trolls shoving their political rants down your throats, and fake news. Instead of adding to the chaos, use your common sense and share info only from verified, reliable sources. Postpone your trolling and negatron attitude for another time/decade.

5. Share your resources

Do you have a farm, empty warehouse, or vacant property that can be used as temporary shelters or rehabilitation areas for the animals? What about a spare truck, van, or 4×4 vehicle you can lend to the operations? If you do, please get in touch with the groups that need them. Bless the kind souls who have been offering their resources to help the animals.

 

6. Support the small groups as well

On top of their current rescue operations, the big groups are bombarded with rescue requests and inquiries, so let’s help lighten their load by approaching the small (but reliable) animal welfare groups that aren’t getting as much media mileage. Veterinary clinics, pet shops, schools, and small companies are also running their own relief operations.

Avoid bombarding the private messaging and comments section with repetitive questions that have already been answered in the posters, announcements, threads, and website FAQs. Take time to read, read, read, and read to see if your query has already been answered several times in the Facebook threads, on the “about” page, pinned post, or official website. Remember: these are unpaid volunteers doing the best that they can.

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7. Adopt or foster

Many of the rescued dogs have owners frantically looking for them. You may temporarily foster the dogs or volunteer at the shelters while waiting for the owner to come forward. But some of the rescued animals are strays (meaning they were homeless from the start) or mistreated pets (tied on a short leash or showed signs of long-term sickness and neglect) that are now up for adoption. Visit the Facebook pages of the animal rescue groups to see the Taal dogs and cats up for adoption or fostering.

 

8. Help owners reunite with their missing pets

Not all animals were intentionally left behind. Some pet owners were away from their homes when Taal volcano erupted. Many island residents were hurriedly evacuated with only the clothes on their back. Worse, the military did not allow people to evacuate with animals. Only those with private vehicles were able to take their pets. Unforeseen situations like blocked roads or lack of resources also prevented them from coming back to rescue their beloved pets.

Calling on the eagle-eyed social media users! Many pet owners who lost their pets during the eruption are now posting photos online, hoping that one of the rescuers found their beloved pets. If you’re able to match a “missing” photo with a “rescued” photo, use your vigilance to help reunite the pets with their masters. It would mean the world to them.

 

9. Don’t forget the rescuers, too

The unsung heroes are the volunteers risking their own lives to rescue both humans and animals. Think about them also when you donate. The volunteers are in need of N95 masks, protective gear, food, water, transportation, and a safe place to recoup when doing rescue operations.



To connect with other people affected by the Taal Volcano eruption, visit Facebook’s Crisis Response page. If you have more resources to share, post a link in the comments section below. I will update this post regularly.

#TaalVolcano #TaalEruption2020

Cover photo (for illustrative purposes only) from Pixabay.