Walking up on the entrance, it looked like Mary’s Secret Garden. The arches of crawling plants with some of its tendrils hanging loose were luring everyone to go on further. And the trees created shades comforting enough to walk along the patches of land. A two-storey house together with five or so dogs greeted us, excited to see new faces.
Animal Kingdom Foundation (AKF), situated in Capas, Tarlac, has been home to many homeless dogs. It is a non-profit, no-kill dog shelter dedicated to saving abandoned, neglected, abused and slaughter-bound dogs.
Founded by Charles Wartenberg in 2006, AKF is by far one of the biggest dog rescue and rehabilitation center in the country. However, the AKF team had done dog-slaughterhouse raids as early as 2002.
AKF Chief Researcher Greg Quimpo said that the shelter aims to raise awareness on animal welfare. They are also promoting adoption and re-homing of the slaughter-bound dogs. Adoption rate was roughly around 150 each year.
One of its famous dogs was Sweet. He was owned by Wartenberg and was one of the very first dogs saved by the AKF.
Wartenberg explained that Sweet had become attached to him even from the start. He then brought him back to the United Kingdom and eventually hit the limelight. He was announced the Dog of the Year in 2004.
However, Quimpo said that most of the visitors were looking for either shitzu, Japanese spitz or those dogs with imported breed and once they found out that what they have were local pedigrees, eventually cease to contact them.
The shelter was also catering to tourist. They had an estimate of 20 tourist visitors from Europe and all parts of the world each year volunteering and staying in the center.
It had also become haven to veterinary students. With its up-to-date facilities, a proper quarantine room and even its own cemetery, the shelter had gotten a lot of requests for internship in and outside of the country.
The shelter is a 2 hectare land with 2 buildings for their main office and another staff house and 32 dog pens. Each pen can hold 25 dogs at a time. It was currently housing 565 dogs and was expected to increase in the coming months.