Ever since its accreditation, the Professors for the Upliftment of Society’s Animals (PUSA) has been constantly active in devising awareness campaigns for the welfare of stray cats who are now considered as part of the DLSU community. Its founding members consist of Dr. Elaine Tolentino from the International Studies Department, Dr. Laurene Chua-Garcia and Dr. Maria Guadalupe Salanga from the Psychology Department; and Dr. Jeane Peracullo and Ms. Laureen Velasco from the Philosophy Department who all share the same mission.
Since DLSU-PUSA has achieved relative stability as an organization, the core members from the College of Liberal Arts have decided to reach out to the students of the University as well.
This attempt has been successful so far, and now, DLSU-PUSA is composed of both faculty and students across different colleges. PUSApporters take turns feeding and caring for the cats, also advocating for the adoption of these cats.
DLSU-PUSA has also decided to expand to other Lasallian schools in order to spread its advocacy. For its first venture, DLSU Animal Supporters Organization, to be commonly known as ASOsasyon, will be based in the De La Salle University – Laguna Campus.
DLSU ASOsasyon was founded in DLSU-Manila a few weeks after a wounded stray dog wandered on campus. The same professors who formed DLSU-PUSA, alongside volunteer students and staff, were the ones who cared for the dog and nursed him back to health. While the dog was temporarily given a resting place by the faculty area, the resident guard dog of the University, Nognog, befriended him.
Quite similar to the story as to how DLSU-PUSA was founded, the professors decided that it is only fitting and proper that stray dogs must be given the same treatment. More often than not, stray dogs can be spotted roaming around the school grounds and gates in the Laguna campus. With the authorization of ASOsasyon, these dogs can finally have the liberty to go inside and be welcomed as official members of the Lasallian community.
Central members of ASOsasyon are to be chosen after PUSA core members coordinate with offices and faculty in the Laguna campus. “Meetings will still be conducted under the Office of the Vice President for Lasallian Mission,” explains Tolentino. She also clarifies that the Laguna campus will also follow the same guidelines approved by the Chancellor’s Council. “ASOsasyon will observe the University’s advocacy on the protection of the environment through the cultivation of compassion and responsibility for other species who share this planet with us,” she expounds.
Aside from providing stray dogs with proper medical care and a new place to call home, the newly-formed organization aims to extend the benefits to the Lasallian community. “Dogs are known to be sources of happiness. Their presence in the campus will surely create a fresh and positive environment for students, faculty, and staff,” exclaims Peracullo.
Reyen Bautista (III, BS-IE) was more than thrilled upon receiving the news on DLSU-ASOsayon’s institution. “I’ve been waiting for an organization like DLSU-PUSA to be established here because there are groups of stray dogs around buildings,” he expresses.
Dog-lover Luna Mendoza (II, CS-ST) thinks that having dogs within school premises will surely uplift the mood of Lasallians. She voices out, “dogs have this natural air that instantly cheers people up.” Mendoza also suggests that since dogs can be easily trained, some can even serve as therapy dogs to students who are distressed and in need of comfort. “Dogs provide sentimental support that’s sometimes even better than what humans give,” she conveys.
As an animal welfare-enthusiast, Dennis Minamino (II, BSEd) believes that is high time for homeless dogs to finally receive physical and emotional support. “These creatures are always the ones making us feel better, and I think it’s only appropriate that we pay them back. If the administration was able to take care of cats, then this will be relatively easy,” he justifies.
On dealing with possible problems
The financial part of maintaining ASOsasyon is one of the biggest possible problems of the organization. Its counterpart, PUSA, is heavily reliant on the involved professors’ donations and help from some generous students for its expenditures on the cats. The University itself does not have any hand in spending for them. It is expected that ASOsasyon will follow the same dynamic, and in its early stages, this may be inconsistent.
In relation to the financial issues, the members of ASOsasyon would also like to provide free anti-rabies shots the same way PUSA does for students accidentally scratched by cats. However, this requires more financial planning, as well as the approval of the University heads for it to be freely offered in the clinic services.
Another problem to consider is the location of the dogs on campus. There are dogs of different shapes and sizes, and some are more territorial than others. Not all dogs can get along either, which means that they can’t all stay together in one place for long. Some believe that the Laguna campus is not fit to accommodate a diverse set of dogs as it is still new and the facilities provided may be lacking, but ASOsasyon believes that they are more than equipped for this new mission.
Like Lasallian felines, these dogs shall also undergo medical procedures to ensure both their and the students’ safety. “We have yet to identify and name all of the dogs,” Velasco says. “Once these dogs have been recognized, they will be sterilized and will also undergo regular check-ups,” she adds.
Like their sister organization, ASOsasyon will be responsible for looking after the Laguna campus’ dogs by feeding, neutering to control population growth, vaccination of anti-rabies shots, and adoption processes. This will mostly be done by the core faculty members, with the help of willing students as well.
One activity the organization is looking forward to is spearheading an opportunity for students to bring their pet dogs to school for interactions between their dogs and the campus dogs. This activity will most likely be held before midterms or finals week in order to help destress the students. In relation to helping students relax, the organization is looking to collaborate with the Office of Counseling and Career Services (OCCS) to have selected dogs to be trained to assist in therapy.
ASOsasyon is reaching out to both outsiders and members of the Lasallian community for financial assistance. The organization is looking for “ASOpporters” or student and staff volunteers. Aside from financial support, ASOsasyon also needs to establish a more solid foundation in the Lasallian community through publicity and information circulation.