Dinner for a Cause: Plate for a Paw

NONPROFIT organization Hound Haven Philippines, Inc. will be holding Plate for a Paw, a dinner at renowned chef Sau del Rosario’s Cafe Fleur in Poblacion, Makati on May 20 at 5 p.m.

With tickets at P3,800 each, guests will be treated to a four-course meal, with Mushroom Confits Salad and either Crab Cakes or Wild Mushroom Ravioli to start. Butternut Squash soup will be served, and guests can choose from either Salmon Steak with Beurre Blanc or Boneless Fried Chicken for the main course. Pot de Creme or Sticky Toffee Pudding will be served for dessert.

A special auction will also be held. All proceeds would go to Hound Haven’s center in Bulacan.

Hound Haven’s mission is to rehabilitate retired K9 units to make them suitable for adoption. K9 units are often used by the police and the military for security purposes, such as sniffing for bombs and illegal drugs.

Hound Haven’s co-founder, Maxin Arcebal, discussed the costs of caring for ex-K9 units during an interview last week. According to her, the cost of the upkeep of their center, including veterinary expenses, go up to about P200,000 a month. “Rehabilitation is really tailor-fit to each K9’s specific needs,” she said. For example, they have taken in dogs with mange, and another whose leg had to be amputated after being injured in the line of duty. “They require constant and regular medical attention,” she said. “It’s really costly to be taking care of senior dogs, especially those with health issues.”

Hound Haven was founded in 2015, but their center was opened in 2017. According to her, they decided to cater to K9 units because the country does not have animal shelters specifically for those working dogs. “We have so many shelters rescuing abandoned, abused, and neglected dogs,” she said.

To date, Ms. Arcebal counts that they have taken in 20 or more dogs, and have had 10 or more dogs fostered to families. At the beginning, they were only working with retired dogs from the Philippine Army K9 Batallion, but they have since expanded their operations to work with dogs from the Philippine Air Force and the Philippine National Police. On top of that, they take in one rescue dog each year.

Hound Haven was also in talks with the Commission on Audit (CoA), which in 2021, released CoA Circular No. 2021-011 (Guidelines on the Disposal of Unserviceable Working Dogs of all National Government Agencies or NGAs and Instrumentalities, local government units or LGUs, and GCs and their Subsidiaries). The circular requires all government agencies that employ K9 units to retire their dogs after eight years and to put them up for adoption, according to an explanation by Ms. Arcebal. “I wouldn’t say we played a large part in that, but I’m just happy that we were involved in the talks that led to the release of that circular,” she said.

According to her, medium to large-sized dogs (like those used in K9 operations) usually live up to 12 to 15 years. “If they live longer, consider yourself really lucky,” she said.

Because the goal for each dog in Hound Haven’s center is to be taken in by a family, Ms. Arcebal tried to list the qualifications for a family to take in a senior ex-working dog. “I really can’t give you a list; it’s hard.” She said that they always get that question, and families ask about how much they should be earning, or how much space they should have. “We don’t really have those hard qualifications. What we’re looking for is a gut feel. It sounds cliche and too romanticized, but when we do our interviews, our question really is: would we be friends with this family?”

She warns: “If you’re willing to take care of a senior dog, you have to be ready for that dog to have a lot of health complications, and you only have about five years left with that animal,” she said. “You’re looking for commitment, which is something you can’t measure.”

To sign up for Plate for a Paw, contact Hound Haven through houndhavenph.org or on Instagram at houndhavenph. Tickets are available until May 13. — Joseph L. Garcia