Malou Perez describes herself as a meticulous person, as seen in her career in the insurance industry and her online zero waste business.
Yet, it took her only a moment to decide to rescue 50 dogs that were about to be put down at the city pound in Bacolod.
Last Thursday (February 7), Perez graced the block screening of “A Dog’s Journey” at Century Mall in Makati where a short documentary of her “PAWSsion Project” was shown prior to the main feature.
A second screening is planned this Sunday in Bacolod, and on another date in Cebu.
Proceeds from the ticket sales will go to vaccination and food for hundreds of rescued dogs at the shelter she put up at the Victorias property that her friend, Jen Cosculluela, donated.
“It’s overwhelming,” summed up Perez of her whirlwind life since she made the decision to rescue the dogs last October. She would utter that phrase five more times when she talked about her dream back in college of putting up a dog shelter.
“I never knew this would become a reality.”
The reality is there are hundreds of dogs being put in pounds all over the country. After three days, if no owner claims or adopts them, they are put to death in the most inhumane ways (by gunshot, suffocation, or even by being buried alive).
“Another friend of mine tagged me in this Facebook post where 50 dogs in the city pound were going to be put down,” related Perez of that fateful day in October last year. “I shared the post but after a bit, I felt guilty because what does re-posting that mean? I thought as a dog lover and owner, I should do something about it.”
She went on: “Jen and I were planning on putting up an area for an Airbnb business, but since the plans weren’t concrete yet and didn’t have a timeline, we decided to put up this shelter for the rescued dogs.”
After rescuing the dogs, Perez went to the Victorias property, had the thick grass cut, and a fence put up.
The next day, through the kindness of strangers who saw her Facebook post, she was able to transport the dogs to their new home.
“When we started to transport the dogs out of the pound, I was overwhelmed with emotions,” she said. “I began to cry… And when we got to the shelter, within seconds, you could see how it all changed the dogs.”
“Inside the pound, they were depressed and crying. One also died as she nearly strangled herself trying to get out of the leash. But at the shelter, the fresh air, the space, the water, and well, someone looking at them differently, changed the dogs. And they changed me, too.”
Around 300 dogs have been rescued since the shelter was opened last October.
Of the number, 120 are residing at the property. Others either eventually passed on or went out on their own.
There are two full-time staff members who take care of the dogs. Many come from the world over to volunteer, and some send messages to Perez about sightings of homeless dogs and maltreated ones.
While they have made strides, Perez admitted that they still have a long way to go.
“We get donations from everywhere, but the money we get goes to vaccinations, neutering dogs, food, and other immediate needs. We don’t even have electricity. When the vaccination of the dogs gets late, we use the light from our cellphones,” she said.
“I wish I could help every dog, but it isn’t possible [for now],” she added.
Nevertheless, Perez said being able to do her part in helping as many dogs as she could is “the best feeling of all.”
“The dogs not only changed my life, but they also reaffirmed my faith in humanity as I have seen a lot of people – people I don’t even know – give their time, money, help, and connections to help. Who would have thought that caring for these animals would bring us all together? We can all co-exist?” she said.
To help dogs not only in Bacolod but also in your area, please go to the PAWSsion Project page on Facebook.