Text and photos by Trina A. Lagura
The Halloween fever has caught up even with dogs and cats! Last Sunday in Eastwood City, much-beloved K-9 and feline friends were dressed up in their scariest—well, cutest--costumes for Philippine Animal Welfare Society’s (PAWS) fund-raising event, “Scaredy Cats and Dogs.”
The animals were dressed up to scare but they were just too cute and adorable to frighten anybody.
The fund-raising event was a Halloween costume contest not only for pets but for children as well.
PAWS’s program director Anna Hashim-Cabrera said this year’s event, now on its 5th year, attracted a big number of participants.
A total of 90 pets and 230 children participated in the contest. Majority of the pet owners and parents paid P250 for registration while those who bought P500 worth of purchases around Eastwood City got a free pass.
Some of the adult pet owners also donned costumes that matched their pets’ outfits.
For the fifth time, pet owner Miguel Andrade signed up his four-year-old Japanese Akita named Akio in the contest.
Akio and her Chihuahua friend won a special prize for their Ateneo de Manila University and De La Salle University jersey costumes, respectively. Andrade said Akio’s Ateneo jersey was specially made for him.
“It’s for fun. For me, any competition is fun. It’s also good for the shelter,” Andrade said.
A coffin-dragging black Rottweiler, with his tiny red horns, and his “headless” kid master were also certified crowd drawer.
Toy dogs also came in droves. Most of them came as fairies but one stood out as it played the mermaid costume to the hilt. Also notable was a green-colored poodle sashaying around the stage as Marvin the Martian rode on her back.
And who wouldn’t fall in love with a pug wearing an orange clown costume?
Only a few cats joined in the contest but they nonetheless left their mark. An orange Persian cat in his black spider costume, for instance, won an award.
In the end, it was the orange, Samba costume-wearing Chow Chow that brought home the grand prize.
Fun for a cause
“Eastwood City is the most [animal] friendly city so we decided to hold it here this year and we also believe na hindi dapat maiwanan ang mga pets sa Halloween fun,” Cabrera said.
Cabrera pointed out that the event would also give owners an excuse to go out of their house with their animals and allow them to socialize with other pets.
“We believe pets are part of the family so they should join in any special occasion. It raises funds for us so it’s a bonus. It’s a nice bonus for the shelter [since] the shelter hardly gets any donation from individuals,” she said.
Cabrera disclosed that 80 percent of PAWS’s funds come from events like last Sunday’s Halloween costume contest while 20 percent are from donations.
She said it is understandable, especially for a poor country like the Philippines, to focus first on addressing the needs of the people. She, however, stressed that fighting for the welfare of the animals is also as important because, in the first place, they cannot speak out about their needs.
The money raised during Sunday’s event will be used for the construction of an area for PAWS’s 200 volunteers. The volunteers help take care of 42 dogs and 156 cats, all rescued from cruelty and neglect.
The animals are housed in an approximately 50-square-meter room, according to Cabrera.
PAWS rehabilitates these animals until they are well enough to be adopted and taken care of by a loving new family. Cabrera said the adoption rate for dogs is a high 50 percent and 30 percent for cats. She said she hopes to increase the adoption rate for cats within the year.
Amazingly, Cabrera said, majority of those who adopt do not reject animals that have physical defects.
“You’d be surprised that a number of Filipinos are really going to the shelter asking for a special dog… ‘yong isang pet na dati halos mamatay na sa gutom sa isang pound [after ma-adopt] ngayon nasa kama nanonood ng Cartoon Network, matutuwa ka.”
“Even if were unfunded most of the time, month to month it’s a struggle to survive… kasi P75, 000 ang aming operational cost for the shelter. It’s a big amount,” she added. “But with a few lives that we save, we hope we can show people that they can make a difference also with their own little act of kindness,” said Cabrera.