When it comes to showing the world what they’re capable of, the youth have always gotten a bad rap.
Such views did not dampen the spirits of 21-year-old Kristianne Jesse “CJ” Suzara, a third year BS Psychology major from Colegio de San Lorenzo. For the past five years, CJ has volunteered to help various local animal welfare groups. She also rescues and rehabilitates injured and unwanted animals from the streets.
Influenced by her siblings, CJ was 5 years old when she first got involved in animal rescues. As she got older, she did volunteer work for an NGO for her NSTP (National Service Training Program) class, then for the Mandaluyong Animal Shelter, the city pound of Mandaluyong.
Together with her mother, CJ entered the world of animal rescue, never thinking of the impact it would have in their lives.
Today, CJ is part of the Philippine Animal Rescue Team (PART), a Securities and Exchange Commission-registered organization that rescues and rehabilitates abandoned and injured animals around the country for adoption into good homes.
Part-time and full-time volunteers have traveled everywhere for this advocacy. They have gone on a road trip to Batangas and taken a boat to Quezon Province to save animals and bring them to their new homes.
Funding PART is a challenge because it relies on the generosity of friends, animal lovers and donors. Also, few people choose to spend their time and money on animal welfare organizations, and even fewer pledges go to cats.
When finances are limited, volunteers shell out money from their own pockets to buy food, medicine and other needs for the animals in their care.
Sadly, volunteers encounter all types of animal abuse on a daily basis. Keeping a dog in its cage for days, or leaving a dog chained to one spot where it eats, sleeps, poops and pees are considered forms of abuse. Even simply forgetting to bring a dog into the house when it rains is an act of cruelty.
“We have to remember that animals are living beings. Like people, they are alive,” says CJ. “We feel for these animals and take them in because we know that others won’t. It’s really about love for animals.”
PART’s volunteers learn about the value of life. They also develop compassion, patience and determination. These are qualities they draw upon when they rescue an animal stuck under a bridge or inside a manhole.
Meanwhile, love comes naturally when they save an animal, care for it and find a suitable family to adopt it.
While rescuing an abandoned dog and rehabilitating it back to good health is a rewarding experience, the real reward for CJ and PART volunteers is seeing the dog welcomed by a loving family.
Age shouldn’t matter when it comes to saving lives—be it human or animal. —CONTRIBUTED