Having to see the harsh realities that stray animals go through here in the Philippines is honestly heartbreaking. The sheer number of strays is evidence of how neglectful we can be when it comes to animals. A lot of them are usually abandoned, uncared for, or abused pets. In the end, they either have to learn to fend for themselves or find themselves in a shelter.
The problem with simply collecting animals in a shelter is that eventually, it will no longer be sustainable. Either the shelter will have to refuse to take in any more, or they’ll have to “put down” the older strays. This is the reality Cher Herrera Righi encountered and which led to her phenomenal story of rescuing more than a hundred animals in total.
Cher’s crusade towards saving animals began with a visit to the local pound. At the time, Cher was a regular person simply working as a customer service representative. She was living with her brother and 2 nieces and nephews in Bacolod City.
She went to the pound to look for a stray she and her brother had been feeding but who suddenly went missing. Instead of finding that particular dog, she met dozens of other four-legged friends that she instantly felt a connection to. After being told that many of them would be put down in just a few days, she knew she had to get at least some out of there.
But when trying to make the choice to save just a few of the pups, she realized that they all deserved a second chance. She adopted 13 right away and came back for the remaining 62 once she received her paycheck for that month. Cher paid the adoption and vaccination fees for them all without even worrying about herself. She also helped 24 other strays from the pound find new homes by posting about it online.
From those original 75 strays, some have been adopted and others were even reunited with families who thought they were lost. But it didn’t stop there for Cher. Rescuing became second nature to her and whenever she would see an animal in need she wouldn’t hesitate to take them home with her. She is currently taking care of 83 rescues, 41 of them being adult dogs, 17 puppies, and 25 cats.
One example is her puppy, Valentina, who she passed by running back and forth on a highway with an injured leg. Fearing she had been hit by a car (or would soon get hit), Cher turned around to take the pup home. Another story is of Patrick, a stray she would often see at the local park. When looking for him one night she found him lying down on a pile of garbage and seemed on the verge of dying. Despite her other plans for the night and the knowledge that Patrick’s treatment would probably cost a lot of time and money, she took him to get checked by her vet right away.
She shares that she realized: “I really have to accept the fact [of] my purpose in life! I cannot stop helping and saving them. This is gonna be me whatever happens and in any situation.” Being exposed to the harsh reality of that pound the first time made her see that the good she could do by rescuing them had to be done. Regardless of the cost or the effort, she had to at least try.
We make a lot of excuses for ourselves when we encounter hungry and desperate strays, saying we don’t have the capacity to help or it’s too much hassle. This woman, who doesn’t have much herself, doesn’t even spend a moment to think of herself before asking what she can do to help the strays she meets.
Help please… 83 animals to feed everyday is a real struggle for me. These animals were neglected, abused and starving…
So if there’s nothing we can do ourselves to help the strays we meet each day, maybe we can help Cher out instead. She’s said that she accepts whatever aid can be given to her, in whatever form. Goods and donations are always readily received, and she even posts everything sent to her for transparency. Of course, potential parents looking to adopt are also welcome as helping these rescues find their forever home is her top priority. Her only condition is that the rescues will be taken care of properly:
I have many cats and dogs for adotion but I thouroughly check if they can really take care of my rescues, will treat them as family and will not put them on a leash or in a cage all the time.
What other ways do you think we can help the strays in our communities?