Bark for help-A A +A
Saturday, February 16, 2013
HE was one of the first rescued pit bulls from the Cavite dog fighting bust in 2011. He was taken in by a group of animal lovers who saw the need for an animal welfare movement in the city. They fed him, tended his wounds and most importantly, gave him a home.
Today he is now a healthy, happy and playful canine, living with an adoptive family. The rescuers have named him “Potter” after the fictional wizard Harry Potter who similarly has a scar on his forehead. While Harry got his from an evil wizard, Potter the pit bull had his after sustaining an injury from the dog fight.
Potter is only one of the dogs that have been helped out by Nena Hernandez and the group she initiated, Island Rescue Organization or IRO for short. Joined by individuals who have the same vision, they formally started the organization in February of 2010.
“IRO focuses on the humane treatment of all animals, in particular, companion animals like dogs and cats,” shares Nena. Its mission is to rescue abused and abandoned animals and to provide shelter and care to them.
Once the rescued animals are rehabilitated, IRO encourages adoption but Nena stresses that if the opportunity does not present itself, the animals remain safe and can still have a happy life in their shelter. IRO practices a “no kill” policy.
At present, the organization has nearly a 100 cats and dogs in its rescue center in Danao City. The facility is actually an abandoned dorm that has 22 rooms, where the animals roam free, play and sleep. Two of the rooms have also been designated as quarantine rooms for new rescues that are still undergoing treatment. “It is a sanctuary,” Nena likes to call it.
It was when Nena had her first pit bull back in 2006 that she became aware of the abuses that animals, predominantly the pit bull breed, have been subjected to over the years. A retired lawyer based in California, she eventually joined an animal rescue unit there and was quite active in its activities for over three years.
“When I decided to repatriate in 2009, there was no way I could just close my eyes,” the IRO head says. “It was people who said we need it, and we are fortunate there are a lot of animal lovers in Cebu.”
IRO has over 100 official members, and they are still inviting more to join their cause. “We’ve been relatively loose,” admits Nena, “but we want to make it more structured because we need to sustain the organization. We are always happy when more members come in because it really helps us in the care and feeding of the animals.” (CONTRIBUTED FOTOS)
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 17, 2013.