Get up close and personal with shelter animals at this pet café for a cause

Johanna L. Añes- de la Cruz

Posted at Aug 17 2019 07:12 AM

The PAWS Pet Cafe at Ayala Vertis North. Photo by author

MANILA -- The Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) Pet Café is back with therapy dogs and shelter animals every weekend until September 1.

Located at the second floor Urban Turf of Ayala Vertis North, the pop-up pet cafe features cats on Saturdays and dogs on Sundays.

Now on its fifth outing, PAWS Pet Café is a partnership with Ayala Malls to raise funds for shelter dogs and cats and to increase awareness on animal welfare.

“Before nauuso na iyong dog and cat cafés, we have decided as an organization bakit hindi gamitin iyong ganoong concept to raise funds and create awareness on the organization and adoption, spaying, and neutering,” PAWS volunteer and Dr. Dogs coordinator Jeng Paradero-Mamiit told ABS-CBN News during the café’s opening weekend. “So far the reception of the public has been very warm.”

What makes PAWS Pet Café special is that it does not only feature dogs with breeds. “Sa simula nagugulat sila kasi akala nila pets with pedigrees lang 'yung nahi-highlight sa pet cafes. Pero ito, since it is a concept created by PAWS, ang pinepresent namin ay ang adoptables ng shelter and our therapy dogs which are ambassadors din ng ating organization,” Paradero-Mamiit said.

This year’s PAWS Pet Café, which has a space theme, includes five therapy dogs and two shelter dogs which are up for adoption. “Yung sinasama naming shelter dogs, sila na iyong mga sanay sa tao. So were are pushing them for adoption na talaga,” she said.

King Arthur and Xander pose with their handlers. Both dogs are up for adoption. Photo by author

Among the dogs featured in this year's Pet Cafe are King Arthur and Xander pictured here with their handlers Phoenix and Mitch. Both dogs are up for adoption.

The two shelter dogs, who are now awaiting adoption, are aspin King Arthur and Xander, both rescued off the streets about two years ago.

“Si King Arthur po puno ng galis at sobrang malnourished noong na-rescue,” recalled volunteer handler Phoenix Tupaz.

Another volunteer handler Mitch Muncada, who handles Xander, recalled the emaciated state the dog was in when brought to the shelter. “Mas grabe po si Xander, kita na po iyong mga buto niya,” she said while motioning to Xander’s ribs.

After months of rehabilitation and fostering, both King Arthur and Xander are now in the pink of health and are excited to have their very own “hoomans.”

“Napakalambing po nila,” Muncada proudly shared.

You can adopt cats for only P500. Handout

Paradero-Mamiit underscored the importance of promoting adoption given the sheer number of rescued animals in the PAWS shelter alone.

“We have over 200 shelter cats and 70 shelter dogs in the shelter and all are up for adoption. We get multiple calls and emails in a day for us to rescue animals in distress so nadadagdagan pa. Swerte na maka-10 adoptions in a month. While madami na din 'yun, it is not widely popular that is why we are thinking of more ways to create awareness on adoption and responsible pet ownership, because you would not have strays if you have responsible pet owners,” she said.

For only P500 for cats and P1,000 for dogs, you can already bring home your own house-ready furball. PAWS makes sure that these pets are spayed or neutered, vaccinated, rehabilitated, and have undergone behavior training so you can already give them all the hugs you want as soon as they are turned over to you.

Furry doctors and professors

The public can also interact with therapy dogs. Photo by author

Meanwhile, PAWS also showcases "Dr. Dogs," which are therapy dogs that visit hospitals, orphanages, schools, and different institutions upon invitation. Paradero- Mamiit emphasized that Dr. Dogs do not have to be to be a certain breed but “they must be two years old and above and must be spayed or neutered and they must pass a one-time assessment administered by PAWS. It is a rigorous test of putting them under stress to see if they would snap (or not). They have to be innately submissive and calm.”

Currently, PAWS has more than 20 Dr. Dogs and more than five of these are shelter dogs. Aside from the therapy dogs, PAWS also has literacy and education dogs (LEAD) or more fondly called "Prof. Dogs."

One of the core thrusts of PAWS is to promote animal welfare education. “Some of the Dr. Dogs are moonlighting as Prof. Dogs and listening dogs. We visit schools and they listen to early readers while they read so they create a judgment-free zone," Paradero- Mamiit explained.

"Afterwards, we do animal awareness lessons for them (young learners) to be aware of animal welfare issues even at a very young age. We teach concepts such as animals are sentient beings, that they can feel just like you and me. That is our focus, which is preventive more than the reactive side of animal welfare.”

Pet lovers spend time with cats at the PAWS Pet Cafe. Handout

The Philippines still has a long way to go when it comes to animal welfare and responsible pet ownership, but Paradero-Mamiit believes that “it is worth it kung bata pa lang you teach them how to be compassionate and kind."