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(InterAksyon's Abigail Kwok was prompted to write this piece after she covered the rescue of 300 pit bulls in a Laguna lot supposedly maintained by a global dogfighting ring. For more of that story, please click here. 300 pit bulls rescued in Laguna)
It wasn't the smell of feces and urine that struck me nor the haphazard way the rusty steel drums were strewn around the muddy farm lot.
It was the way those pleading eyes looked at me, at us, as we arrived at the site where about 300 dogs were rescued from a South Korean dogfighting syndicate in San Pablo, Laguna. It was as if the dogs were asking me, begging me, to help them but I didn't know where and how to start.
I hesitantly approached a black pit bull and called him A1— that was the label on the steel drum he was chained to.
He was super thin, his ribs almost poking out of his chest. He was eyeing me suspiciously, his ears flat on his head that was filled with wounds.
"Will he bite?" I asked Butch, one of the volunteers from the Philippine Animal Welfare Society who accompanied us to the site. "Nope," he replied. "But if his body becomes tense then you should back away." [See: InterAksyon's Pinterest pit bull photos]
Butch was kneeling next to A1, offering him his hand. I noticed that A1 was wagging his tail. A good sign. I approached A1, lightly patted his head and his tail wagged some more.
Another pit bull, a chocolate-colored one with white spots, was kept in a kennel made from bamboo. She was wagging her tail but she was shivering. I approached her and poured water from a mineral water bottle into her mouth. She lapped it greedily. She licked my hands as if in appreciation and I patted her head and she quietly returned to her makeshift home.
Seeing all those dogs in such poor condition was heartbreaking to say the least.
Knowing that they were subjected to all kinds of torture and maltreatment for a person's selfish needs made—and still makes—me angry.
The dogs were no way in a humane environment. The steel drums that served as their shelter absorbed the heat during high noon, turning it into an oven. And when it rained, the ground would be flooded, leaving the dogs shivering.
Seventeen dogs have already been put to sleep because of their poor condition. Some just keeled over and died then and there, PAWS said.
Depending on their physical condition, more dogs could be put down.
Then there's the problem of putting them in a shelter because there is just no facility big enough to provide shelter for these dogs.
How humans can treat man's best friend that way is really beyond me. Some would say that dogs are just like any other animal. Why should we condemn dogfights and ignore cockfights? Why allow horseracing? What's with the double-standard?
Maybe it's because dogs are closer to humans than other animals are. They are man's best friend. And they have intense loyalty, something rare and unique.
You can scream at a dog, hit him, refuse to feed him or subject him to any kind of abuse.
But a dog will always come to you when you call them. They will come to you, with those eager eyes, tail wagging, and ready to stand by your side.
These pit bulls, despite being forced to fight among themselves by heartless humans, would still trust their stewards and give their lives up for them.
I have seven dogs at home and I love them as much as I would love my brothers and my parents. My favorite dog, Dollar, died last July 2011. She died due to complications during pregnancy.
Losing her was like losing a good friend, no, a BEST friend. I would tell her my problems and she would silently listen, lick my face whenever I cry, and sleep next to me at night. I still miss her everyday.
As famed "Marley and Me" author John Grogan said: "A dog doesn't care if you're rich or poor, educated or illiterate, clever or dull. Give him your heart and he will give you his."
"A dog has no use for fancy cars, big homes, or designer clothes. A water log stick will do just fine...Give him your heart and he'll give you his. How many people can you say that about? How many people can make you feel rare and pure and special? How many people can make you feel extraordinary?"
The pit bulls rescued in Laguna do not deserve our pity. What they deserve is our action. We should do something about this to stop dogfights. Urge your lawmaker to amend the Animal Welfare Act for stiffer penalties to animal cruelty. This has to stop. [See: Volunteers needed for pit bulls] InterAksyon.com