Tanay shelter asks help to save 100+ cats and dogs

Anna Gabrielle Cerezo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 22 2023 01:58 PM | Updated as of Jan 23 2023 07:58 AM

One of the dogs at Anto-Nym and Steve Haven for Strays in Tanay, Rizal. 
One of the dogs at Anto-Nym and Steve Haven for Strays in Tanay, Rizal. 


MANILA -- Adopting one stray will not change the plight of the millions of struggling animals across the globe, but surely for that one rescue; its world will change forever.

This was the goal of Edwina Villarosa when she founded Anto-Nym and Steve Haven for Strays, an animal shelter in Tanay, Rizal. 

The 100-plus dogs and about 30 cats she rescued, many near the end of their brief life, however, are at risk of losing their chance at finding a home. This is after the two-year-old shelter has come dangerously close to financial collapse.

"We are struggling," Villarosa confessed. “Nauubusan kami madalas ng fund. We are not sustainable kasi."

Villarosa, a retired chemical engineer, opened the shelter in 2020 after seeing stray animals feel the bite of the new coronavirus pandemic. 

"I had always wanted to start a shelter but during the pandemic, dun na 'ko nag-decide -- makikita mo mas dumami kasi 'yung nakakaawa. Hindi na pwede wala ako gagawin," she reasoned. 

For many, the pandemic was tantamount to a death sentence.

As the number of Filipinos who lost their livelihood to the COVID-19 pandemic grew, Villarosa also noticed an uptick in abandoned animals. 

"Nuong pandemic, mas madami 'ko nakikita sa social media na pets in need of rescue, or in need of being re-homed. Makikita mo may mga malnourished na or injured, mga napabayaan. And ang hirap kumilos ng mga oras na ito dahil sa ECQ" she recalled.
 
But with food and beverage establishments closed, the strays were deprived of leftover meals, pushing starving dogs and cats to act feral. 

"Gutom inabot nila. Hirap din sila. Pero hindi lang iyon, minsan makikta mo sinasaktan pa sila, ina-abuso. Siyempre their instinct is to try to survive. Nakakaawa talaga," she argued. 

Villarosa continued: "May dinala sa akin na dog sister ko sa North Fairview -- may isang group ng dogs na hinuli ng president ng association tapos kinulong. Napaka-depressing na kulungan. Siksikan, hindi pinapakain, Kahol ng kahol. Napilitan ako na to start mula noon," she said. 

Anto-Nym and Steve Haven for Strays founder Edwina Villarosa 
Anto-Nym and Steve Haven for Strays founder Edwina Villarosa 

Wanting to let the rescued group of abused canines experience a safe space for the first time, Villarosa began building Anto-Nym and Steve Haven for Strays. 

"I sold my condo in BGC so I can buy a farm for it," shared the founder. 

She continued: “Sa pigs siya before so may pens na. Malaki ang mga enclosure nasa 100 sq. They are free to move there. Pero most of the time nasa labas sila. Doon lang kasi ka pag matutulog or kakain.” 

Since taking them in, the 2,000-sq.m. farm rapidly began being filled with dozens of dogs and cats eager for even the smallest amount of kindness and affection. 

"Pag may bago kasi na shelter, talagang dudumugin ng rescuers. Ang dami-dami kasi na kailangan ng tulong," she explained.

This forced the 68-year-old to continuously tap and empty her savings to meet the standards of care for the animals.

"Wala ako kinikita dito pero lahat ng kinikita ko napupunta dito," Villarosa admitted. 

"I do tech consultant for several companies. Dun ako nakakuha ng funds. Pero dahil consultacy hindi ito stable. Umaasa ako sa SSS pension, 'yun lang regular. Minsan humihingi ako ng tulong sa mga anak ko,” she added.

One of the dogs at Anto-Nym and Steve Haven for Strays in Tanay, Rizal. 
One of the dogs at Anto-Nym and Steve Haven for Strays in Tanay, Rizal. 

Every month, the shelter needs to scrap at least P90,000 to keep afloat. 

“I have to raise that much para maayos ko maalagaan sila,” she revealed. “I need one sack of dog food every day, one sack weekly for cat food. 'Yung rice ko every 3 days 50 kgs. Vitamins pa nila. Deworming ko every 3 months. Sweldo pa ng dalawang staff dito na nag-aalaga and nagpapaligo sa kanila regularly.”

Every stray entered into the facility is also neutered, vaccinated, and then isolated for treatment for fleas, ticks, and other parasites and diseases. 

"Unang una, kailangan alam namin wala sakit kasi pag may distemper o parvo, sa animal house muna. 'Pag magaling saka kukunin. Nadala ako kasi nagka-outbreak ng may nagdala na rescuer na wala distemper o parvo. After 2 weeks namatay aso eh nakasama na ibang aso sa enclosure. Nahawa lahat 25 dogs namatay,” she grieved. 

"Hindi sapat 'yung mapakain lang sila. Kahit 100 plus sila, mahal na mahal ko sila. Lahat 'yan may pangalan and lahat 'yan alam pangalan nila. 'Pag tinawag mo lalapit," Villarosa stressed.

The shelter's founder said finding a stable food supply for her rescues is her most pressing concern. 

The near financial ruin of the non-profit forces them to sometimes put out urgent calls for help on its social media platforms to ask supporters for aid.

"Minsan wala talaga sila makain, nakakalungkot. May donor ako weekly pinapadalan aka 30 kg of kalabasa — ayun hindi napuputol. So pag wala dog food, hinahalo sa kanin o lugaw para dumami. Nutritious naman pero kulang ng protein," she lamented.

"Kailangan talaga ng dog food. Kaya hinihingi ko sa followers, na sana may company na gumagawa ng dog food na maging regular donor," pleaded the advocate. 

One of the dogs at Anto-Nym and Steve Haven for Strays in Tanay, Rizal. 
One of the dogs at Anto-Nym and Steve Haven for Strays in Tanay, Rizal. 

And while Anto-Nym and Steve Haven for Strays already grapples with hitting the large amount, the sum has yet to include the emergency bills of the animals — which can rocket to several thousands of pesos, especially for new rescues. 

Besides putting a roof over the animals and food in their bowls, the shelter provides medical care and rehabilitation for sick and injured ones. 

"Kahit 50-50 na, pinapa-vet namin. Meron kami inaalagaan na lump na may spinal. Hindi namin pina-euthanasia. Sa iba put down na nila. Kami never, hangang madugtungan namin buhay nila," she stressed. 

"Buti kilala kami sa Animal House. Kahit wala pa kami pera, tatanggapin. Kahit kulang inuuwi dog may list o running balance. Ta's 'pag may pera papadala kami 5k, kaya assured mga rescue ng Anto-nym and Steve," Villarosa explained.

With the total expenses often astronomical, the shelter's owner explained they have no choice but to rely heavily on donations. 

"We cannot just turn away cats or dogs needing help, especially if they need a vet. So we usually ask help on social media to help settle 'yung mga babayarin," she admitted.

Villarosa went on: "Sana someday, magkaroon na kami ng reserve funds, pag maging sustainable ang supplies. Pero ngayon mahirap. Lagi kulang." 

Among the most recent animals saved by Anto-Nym and Steve Haven for Strays were two ailing puppies fighting for their life.

"Nakakaawa talaga. Iniwan lang sila sa gate, Hindi naman namin pwede pabayaan. Wala sila mga fur, pero cute pa din nila. They obviously needed medical attention," she recalled.

"Sadly, we don't have enough means to save all these animals that desperately need saving," she added.

Although Villarosa wishes to continue opening their gates to strays, the farm's population has surpassed full capacity. 

"Hirap na kami as it is. If kumuha pa kami, hindi na talaga namin maalagaan ng maayos," she explained. 

The advocate urged adoption is the best way to save strays. Not only will the dog or cat be given the home they have been missing all their lives, it also paves the way for another stray likewise to have a shot at the life only a loving family could give.

But like most shelters, the retired engineer said Anto-Nym and Steve's Haven for Strays has an unbalanced rescue-to-adoption ratio. 

Villarosa reported they rarely get inquiries on adoption. And worse, some of these adopters, she said, subject the rescues to negligent and substandard conditions. 

Thus, the chemical engineer admitted she would often take back the dog or cat. 

“'Yung ibang dogs from the beginning andyan na. Pinapa-ampon ko sila pero family ko sila. Napamahal na sa akin mga 'yan kaya chine-check ko talaga kalagayan nila pagka in-adopt,” she noted. 

She continued: “Kasi kinuha lang dog para magbantay ng bahay. Binigay ko ang taba, pag-bawi ko may garapata... Ahg harap maniwala na dog lover pero 'pag binisita ko na makikita mo sa dog hindi siya masaya, kawawa. Lalo na pag nakakulong lang, nakatali.” 

Many of the residents of Anto-Nym and Steve Haven for Strays are senior dogs. A chunk of them have endured abuse, been left behind, and have struggled on the streets for years. 

That is why Villarosa emphasized that the motive of adopters should be to give the helpless animals a second chance and not to traumatize them again. 

She also urged aspiring pet owners not to judge animals by their breed, as aspins are just as bright and can love just as unconditionally as expensive purebreds. 

"They are really smart. Nakakausap mo sila, nakakintindi sila. They know their names, lalapit pag tatawag. Alam nila kung kailan kakain. They know when it's time to go back to their pen," she admonished. 

While the 68-year-old attempts to provide the rescues the life they were deprived of, their financial woes put her on a short leash.

“Dito alagang-alaga naman sila pero kasi iba pa din ang may family. Madami din sila kasi dito kaya wish ko na makahanap sila ng family na tutukan sila, mamahalin sila,” she mused. 

Most stories of the dogs and cats living in the haven are similar: they were discovered bloodied and beaten, battling for their life, or found by their constant cries for help. 

The shelter remains to be their only saving grace to heal from their tragic past fully. Unfortunately, the fate of Anto-Nym and Steve Haven for Strays continues to hang in the balance, consequently leaving their shot at getting a new lease on life uncertain. 

Thus, Villarosa is knocking on kind hearts to help her at least save the first place the animals got to call home and, so far, the only family they've come to know.

Tanay shelter asks help to save 100+ cats and dogs