One of the first disasters to happen this year was the Taal eruption in January when hundreds of people from surrounding villages were forced to evacuate their homes and leave behind their livelihoods. However, commonly overlooked are the hundreds of animals who were abandoned in danger zones, unable to escape or fend for themselves.
We are featuring Lara’s Ark and its founder Susan Lara, who has been a devout animal lover since she was 12 years old. During the Taal eruption, Susan and a group consisting of her daughter Tammy and friends Eves Calajate and Titan Manalastas braved the desolated villages all day long to rescue all kinds of animals and brought them to safety, much like Noah’s Ark.
Titan Manalastas recalled in an e-interview, “During the first few days of the eruption, our days started before dawn at around 4 in the morning where we go to the planned areas for rescue. One of the most memorable rescues we did was in Taal on the third day of the eruption, where Taal has mandated a forced evacuation. While everyone was rushing out with ambulances, rescue vehicles, and police cars, we were rushing in to rescue as much animals as we could. One of the most haunting moments was while rescuing, the earth was shaking, and we all had no intentions of stopping as we were all high on adrenaline. “
In the evacuated villages, the group found dogs chained and left behind without any food or water, leaving them malnourished and dehydrated. Some were injured and in dire condition, with scratches and ashes in their eyes and ears while some were mange infected. Meanwhile, there were some owners who couldn’t take their furbabies with them and willingly gave them to the team but left behind their contact information to get their pets back later on. They brought all these animals back to their shelter in Nasugbu where they rehabilitated them back to health. They did this day after day. As of now, they have rescued around 200 dogs and 80 cats along with 11 horses, chickens, pigeons, and ducks.
But as much as they have come to love these animals, they cannot take care of them all on their own, so the team is now actively looking for loving homes to take the rescued dogs in. Titan shared that they have a rigorous screening process to make sure that they are going to be well taken care of. After all, these animals have already gone through so much. As described by Titan, Lara’s Ark is “a place where these animals are given a second chance to live a happy life and find their forever home.” But don’t let the process scare you – as long as you are genuine and able to give these pups all the love and care they deserve, you’re good!
If you are interested in adopting one of Lara’s Ark’s rescued puppies, you can contact them through their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/larasark.ph where you can also take a look at the puppies patiently waiting for a human to take them home.
However, if you cannot adopt at the moment but you still want to help them out, Lara’s Ark would greatly appreciate any donations in kind, mainly food and medicine, or you can even volunteer to help out in the shelter to help them care for the rescued animals.
Talking to the team, I couldn’t help but feel their immense passion and dedication to the cause as they recounted their stories of fearlessly trudging through villages to find abandoned pets, who now have a second chance at a happy, well-loved life thanks to them. Eves Cajete, another one of the partners, shared that their vision for Lara’s Ark is “to be the modern-day Noah’s Ark for unwanted and abandoned animals.” The founder, Susan Lara, also shared her future plans for the shelter, “I plan to build an animal sanctuary where all of my adopted ones will be housed properly, and ideally simulating their natural habitat. Finally, I plan to use the animals for therapy to help disabled and special children and even terminally ill patients who have no one to keep them company.”
The Lara’s Ark shelter is located at JP Laurel, Nasugbu, Batangas. To know more about them, you may visit their Facebook page at facebook.com/larasark.ph and their Instagram at instagram.com/larasark.ph.