April 27, 2016
Boracay Animal Rescue
During a recent trip to Boracay in the Philippines, I was surprised and saddened by the number of homeless animals that roam the island looking for food. Many of them are injured and in desperate need of medication.
It seems that mass tourism and development don’t translate into animal welfare with one bar in particular with a sign saying ‘Please don’t feed the cats’.
I understand why they might not want tourists to encourage sick looking animals to hang around their bar but where else can the animals get food?
Discouraged I began to search for animal rescue groups on the island but the nearest one was 71km away.
The next morning during breakfast I saw the sickest but friendliest ginger cat. He was probably under a year old and hanging around the tables in an attempt to get some food.
In a stealth-like manner, so as not to draw unwanted attention to the cat, I smuggled some scraps from my plate to feed the starving animal.
Unsure of what to do next, I googled ‘animal rescue Boracay’ and found the Aklan Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre. I contacted them via Facebook and waited to see if they responded. But with only one day left on Boracay time was running out. A couple of hours later they messaged me back and told me to contact a lady named Amy, a volunteer based in Boracay. Thirty minutes later I was back at Koyster restaurant, Station 3 where the cat was first seen, in order to meet Amy.
I sat and waited with the yellow sunlight shining through the palm trees worrying what would happen if she didn’t show and if ‘Ritchie’ wasn’t there.
Fortunately, the cat was still there. The kind staff at the restaurant had named him ‘Ritchie’. Perhaps a Happy Days reference because he is ginger?
This young cat’s eyes were almost totally stuck together, a sign of a bad infection, it so bad he had to lift his head in a peculiar fashion to see where he was going.
About twenty minutes after my arrival, Amy showed up with a cat carrier and ‘Ritchie’ climbed inside as if he knew we were there to help him. The kind staff at Koyster restaurant seemed sad to see him go but said ‘he will have a better life’.
Strays on this small island in the Philippines are not well liked. Most are considered vermin and it’s not rare for them to have boiling water and stones thrown at them.
Aklan Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre
Since I’ve left the Philippines, I have been able to track Ritchie’s progress on social media and will now be sponsoring him for $7.00 per month. Because Aklan Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre (AARRC) is only reachable by boat, Ritchie and the other strays, which included a disabled dog, had to travel by tricycle to the port, then ferry and finally were collected by a minivan.
If you are visiting this area it is possible to stay at AARRC, travellers can stay and meet the animals. For booking information visit their website or see the reviews on TripAdvisor. AARRC is home to o over 30 dogs and many cats that were injured or in need of special care in order to be adopted out.
If it were not for AARRC, these animals would, unfortunately, not have a chance.
Thankfully, the Center provides refuge to scores of dogs and cats. It is one of the very few animal organizations that exist in the Philippines.
Visiting the center and interacting with and helping the animals would be a great, meaningful addition to a trip to the Philippines.
Let’s Support Opening an Animal Shelter in Boracay
However, Boracay needs its own shelter. It’s not uncommon for tourists like me to find injured animals and if there was a place on the island this would mean Amy and the other kind volunteers would be able to help more effectively.
There needs to be a permanent rescue centre on the island. After seeing the great work these people do first hand, it would great if you help them by giving a small donation, no matter how small, so that they can achieve this.
Animals are in desperate need of your support.
Any donations, tiny, small or more, towards the cost of opening this shelter.
Let’s make this beautiful island, beautiful for the animals too.
To donate please visit AARRC’s website and keep an eye out for the Go Fund Me Campaign to be launched soon!