Tuesday, 6 December 2011



By Khrysta Imperial Rara

There are three areas that have to be constantly checked for regular and basic grooming at home, according to our guest last Nov. 17, Dr. Rey Oronan, who is currently Faculty-in-Charge at the UP Veterinary Hospital. You’ll have to check the EARS, the EYES and the NAILS of your dog or cat.


I have known Doc Rey since the early 2000’s when I used to bring my cats and dogs to Animal House along Aurora Boulevard and he used to work there. He was new at the time, and he took good care of my two-month old black kitten Bagheera whom nobody thought would survive a bad case of kitten flu or distemper. I had always wanted a black cat and I told Doc Rey Bagheera must live. Bagheera survived that crisis, thanks to Doc Rey.

Another instance that stands out in my memory was when my white and brown Persian cat Amon-Ra was confined due to kidney failure. After 3 days, I asked Doc Rey about his chances of survival. Amon-Ra had been in and out of the hospital for a couple of years. That night, Doc Rey took a long look at Amon-Ra and said, “Take him home now. He could go anytime.”

He was right. Amon-Ra passed away in the early hours of the morning. But because of Doc Rey’s foresight and compassion (he allowed my cat to go home with me when other vets would probably have not allowed it), I was able to be with my Amon-Ra and comfort him in his last hours.


Doc Rey says long-eared animals are prone to ear infections from microbes so you’ll have to clean their ears when you give them a bath. It is also important to dry their ears. There are products you can buy over the counter to clean their ears. But if you want to use home remedies, diluted vinegar and diluted agua oxynada would be good at a 1:10 ratio, that is, one ml of vinegar or agua oxynada to 10 ml of water. You will know when the ears are dirty because they become covered with black dirt, or could smell bad, or cause pain to the animal. If the animal has an ear wound and the wound is too deep or big, bring him/her to a veterinarian.

The ears of an adult dog or cat can be cleaned twice a week. But if the animal has ear infection, doctors usually recommend ear cleaning and medication twice a day. The ears of puppies and kittens, on the other hand, should only be cleaned when they reach 2 months old.

Caution: Do not use soap and water to clean the ears. Alcohol is not good either because it can irritate the ears. Baby oil feels hot on the skin and so could result in a burning sensation. Do not use cotton buds. Use cotton buds or your fingers instead.


Healthy eyes are clear and glassy. The presence of excessive mucus could be an indication of eye infection or dehydration. Or it could mean infection in some part of the body like in the case of Upper Respiratory Tract Infection.

CAUTION: Cleaning the eyes with water may cause infection. It’s better to use eyewash or other medicated eye products that can be bought over the counter.


Nails always have to be clipped short because animals can accidentally scratch themselves, other animals in the home or you. Cats and kittens usually play war games among themselves and they use their paws and nails a lot. Someone could get accidentally scratched in the eyes by a playmate with long nails.

To clip the nails, you could use a nail clipper or nail cutter. Even the ones people use will work as long as you do it properly. This means clipping the nail above the “quick” or the pink part of the nail which could cause bleeding when cut.


An interesting question came from listener Grace Arevalo of Quezon City – What herbal remedies can be used to treat colds, diarrhea and skin problems?

To my pleasant surprise, Dr. Rey gamely entertained the question and was very familiar with herbal remedies!

“Cats really don’t like citrus but Vitamin C is the best remedy for colds. So you can give Vitamin C syrup with a syringe,” he said, adding that there is no such thing as an overdose of vit. C because the body will just automatically excrete the excess fluids.

As for diarrhea, he says the cause must be identified first. If it’s due to the presence of worms, then the animal has to be dewormed. Or if it’s due to protozoa or amoeba, then proper treatment is needed.

Doc Rey said that some cats don’t digest certain foods very well, like rice for instance. I told him that when my cats have a bum stomach, I boil a piece of bark from the star apple or kaimito tree and give them 12 ml twice a day. It always works.

Boiling some guava leaves to make tea also works as a treatment for diarrhea but I put in a bit of honey to soften the bitter taste.

As for skin problems, Doc Rey says you must first find out the cause of the problem. If it’s fleas, then you must get rid of the fleas. He recommends boiling the leaves of madre de cacao or cacahuete and rinsing the animal with it.

Since we are in a tropical country, fleas are present in the soil all year round. If your dog or cat goes outdoors, or if he or she has contact with another animal that has access outdoors, then the fleas could transfer to him/her.

We were already trying to beat the time at this point so I was a not able to add that recently, my friend Leng Velasco shared with me her remedy for mange. All that’s needed is Acapulco leaves ground and mixed in virgin coconut oil. Wipe this concoction on the animal’s body using cotton balls every three days until the mange is gone. I noticed that the Acapulco – vco concoction also got rid of the fleas and kept them away for a long time!

Guava leaves can also rescue troubled skin. I boil four guava leaves with a clove of garlic in a cup of water then use cottonball to wipe the concoction in the animal’s skin. It refreshes them and heals wounds since guava is an antiseptic.


Another listener asked for bathing tips. Doc Rey said dogs could be given a bath twice a week. A more frequent bath could damage the skin and strip it of essential oils. Long-haired animals have more sensitive skin and it’s the hair that protects them, he said.

If the weather is cold, bathe him during the warmest part of the day – like at noon – and use warm water. Then dry him with a towel or hair dryer. It’s better than drying with an electric fan because this gives off cold or cool air.

For hairballs, the best natural solution is unprocessed and unsweetened pineapple juice which could be given with a syringe or papaya fruit which could be mixed with their food, according to Doc Rey.

He also strongly recommends brushing the animal’s hair daily because this provides a good opportunity for both of you to bond. You will also be able to see if your dog or cat has skin problems like fleas or wounds. Early treatment can improve your animal’s quality of life.


For his parting remarks, Doc Rey reminded the audience that special considerations have to be taken into account for the Christmas season.

“Puppy proof your house. Dog proof your house,” he stated. This means that your animals must not have access to decors that could prove toxic to them.

“Make sure that leftover food is properly stored,” he adds. Among the foods that could prove hazardous to animals are wine and grapes, chocolates, fatty foods and small and sharp bones. Salty foods must be avoided at all cost.

Unfortunately, we had to end the program at this point. But we agreed that there had to be a second part to this because there’s still a lot of things that people have to know in order to keep their animals safe during the Christmas holidays.

If you want to hear more tips on animal care for the holidays, listen to KWENTUHANG PETS ATBP on Thursday, December 8 at 1-2pm Manila time. Doc Rey Oronan will be joining us again to give more advice on how to keep our animals during this hectic season!

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Solomon Dolphins in Subic

(Blogger's note: In reaction to my first article "Animal groups seek return of Solomon dolphins in Subic to their native habitat" that was published by yahoo.ph on November 20, 2011, Resorts World Sentosa in Singapore issued a statement to contradict the claims of ACRES Singapore and Earth Island Institute. This is the follow-up article.)

RWS: Our dolphins are in a well-established facility in the Philippines

By VERA Files | The Inbox – Thu, Nov 24, 2011

By Khrysta Imperial Rara, VERA Files

The 25 dolphins from the Solomon Islands that are now in Subic are well-cared for and free to interact with each other, according to Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) in Singapore.

In a statement sent to Yahoo/VERA Files in reaction to the article "Animal groups seek return of Solomon dolphins in Subic to their native habitat," Lim Soon Hua, RWS director for communications, said their dolphins currently in the Philippines are in a "facility which comes with a dedicated veterinary clinic, a marine mammal clinical diagnostic laboratory and enclosures that exceed international standards such as those set by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums."

The RWS-owned Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops aduncus) are temporarily kept in Ocean Adventure, an open-water marine park in the Subic Bay Freeport zone, about 100 km northwest of Manila Bay.

Lim said "The area where our dolphins are housed is restricted for safety and security reasons."

Lim also said the wild-caught cetaceans have " ample space to swim, interact and bond with their fellow pod mates and are cared for by our team of veterinarians and marine mammal specialists who collectively represent over 300 years of relevant experience working in more than 60 marine mammal facilities globally".

"Our Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins were acquired according to Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) requirements. The movement of marine animals, including dolphins, is governed by the United Nations Environment Programme which upholds the policies of CITES. The species of dolphins that will be housed at the Marine Life Park are not classified as endangered, nor are they threatened with extinction," he further said.

Lim said "We have always maintained that there are no plans to conduct animal shows. As part of caring for our marine mammals, the Marine Life Park team has introduced various enrichment devices that are water resistant, durable and safe for our animals. Dolphins in the wild are often in search of opportunities to interact and play. In zoological environments, balls and hoops encourage play activities among dolphins. These activities promote health and social interaction among the animals."

He said the Marine Life Park opens in 2012, and stressed, "We believe it will have a role in inspiring and promoting marine conservation."

On Nov.12, several animal protection groups, among them Singapore's Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (ACRES), Earth Island Institute (EII) and the Philippine Welfare Society (PAWS) launched the "Save the World's Saddest Dolphins" campaign at the Bonifacio Global City in Taguig. They called on the Philippine government to ban the re-export of the dolphins to the RWS Marine Life Park in Singapore and return them to Solomon Islands, their native habitat.

They went to Subic on Nov. 14 to see for themselves the condition of the dolphins.

Louis Ng, a biologist and executive director of Singapore charity Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (ACRES), said the group saw and filmed the trainers using basketballs and hula-hoops during the training. "We are puzzled by this as RWS has always maintained that they have no plans for animal shows," he said.

Trixie Concepcion, Regional Director of Earth Island Institute doubts RWS' claim that the facility where the dolphins are being kept is truly a 'well established facility'.

"The Ocean Adventure Park which houses the dolphins has had 4 out of its 5 false killer whales die in just a few years of operation. All four false killer whales were all juveniles and died before they were sexually mature," she said.

"Moreover," she said, " Ocean Adventure has been sued for the violation of the Environmental Impact Statement System of the Philippines (PD 1586) as well as the violation of the Animal Welfare Act (RA 8485), a well established facility, indeed!"

Concepcion disagrees that the method RWS used to obtain the dolphins conforms to CITES requirements. She said the export of dolphins from the Solomon Islands was put under the Review of Significant Trade in the Animals Committee of CITES in 2008 due to the issue of sustainability.

"In that meeting in 2008, the Solomon Islands government committed to stopping the export of dolphins if it was proven to be unsustainable. This September 2011, the government of the Solomon Islands announced that all dolphin exports will be banned starting January 2012, an admission that the past dolphin hunts have been largely unregulated and unsustainable," Concepcion noted.

Concepcion said that in their talks with the Philippine government pertinent authorities, nobody could verify the present condition of the 25 dolphins. "They could not even tell us if all 25 dolphins are alive," she said.

(VERA Files is put out by veteran journalists taking a deeper look at current issues. Vera is Latin for "true.")

See related links:

http://ph.news.yahoo.com/blogs/the-inbox/animal-groups-seek-return-solomon-dolphins-subic-native-104221072.html and


Return Dolphins in Subic to Solomon Islands' waters!

Animal groups seek return of Solomon dolphins in Subic to their native habitat

VERA Files | The Inbox, yahoo.ph – Sun, Nov 20, 2011

By Khrysta Imperial Rara, VERA Files

Representatives of Manila and Singapore-based animal protection groups are blocking the reported plan to send the dolphins in Subic to Singapore. They also want them returned to where they came from- Solomon Islands.

The campaign, "Save the World's Saddest Dolphins" launched at the Bonifacio Global City in Taguig last weekend, gained urgency because of reports learned by the animal protection groups that the dolphins will be sent to Singapore by the end of this year where they will be one of the main attractions in Resorts World Sentosa that will open its (marine) park next year.

Solomon Island Dolphins in Subic

"The main thing here is to block the re-export of the dolphins to Singapore. We believe that Philippine laws should be upheld and Section 6 of the Wildlife Resources Conservation Act of the Philippines was violated," Louis Ng, a biologist and executive director of Singapore charity Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (ACRES), said in an interview at DZUP last week.

Ng is referring to the Republic Act 9147 which states that "All activities… shall be authorized by the Secretary upon proper evaluation of best available information or scientific data showing that the activity is, or for a purpose, not detrimental to the survival of the species or subspecies involved and/or their habitat."

Investigations by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature — Cetacean Specialist Group (IUCN-CSG) in 2003 and 2007 concluded that there was no sufficient population data for the Solomon Islands to make a valid Non-Detriment Finding, or an expert scientific opinion showing that the export or trade will not put the survival of the Tursiops aduncus species at risk.

"So the import permits for the 25 dolphins from the Solomon Islands were issued without proper evaluation of the best available scientific data that the importation will not be detrimental to the population of wild dolphins in the Solomon Islands," Earth Island Regional Director Trixie Concepcion said.

"The Philippine government should revoke the permit and send the dolphins back to the Islands," Ng reiterated.

Officers of ACRES ,Earth Island Institute (EII) and the Philippine Welfare Society (PAWS), who visited Ocean Adventure in Subic this week to see 25 Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins, were told to leave the area immediately and prevented from filming the animals.

The group bought admission tickets and proceeded to the area opposite to where the wild-caught dolphins were being housed. They said there were no signs banning entry to and filming in this area.

"Initially, we were told we could remain in the area but were not allowed to film the dolphins. However, we were later politely told to leave the area and we were not allowed to film the dolphins, but could film anywhere else in Ocean Adventure. We did not hold any placards or hold any demonstration and remained civil throughout the entire time. We eventually left the area," ACRES Campaigns Officer Christina Lee recounted in a press statement.

According to the ACRES, the group saw and filmed the trainers using basketballs and hula-hoops during the training. "We are puzzled by this as RWS has always maintained that they have no plans for animal shows," the statement said.

ACRES is focused on battling the illegal wildlife trade as well as promoting cruelty-free living, community outreach, wildlife rescue and rehab, zoo animal welfare and humane education.

"A vast majority of Singaporeans have spoken up now. They support the issue. The people really want to take action," Ng said.

During the groups' meeting last Nov. 11 at the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) of the Department of Agriculture, Assistant Director Benjamin Tabios assured them that there are no pending applications for permits to import or export any dolphins.

"But that situation could change anytime. Someone could suddenly apply for a permit," Tabios said.

Returning the 25 dolphins to their native waters will be long and costly.

"We hope that Resorts World Sentosa will shoulder the expense of bringing them back to where they were caught. RWS can afford this because in the first quarter of this year, they made a pre-tax profit of 500 million Singapore dollars which is equivalent to 400 million US dollars. And that was even without the dolphins," Ng stated.

"But if RWS does not shoulder the cost, ACRES and Earth Island will," he said.

According to him, RWS originally bought the 27 dolphins in the Solomon Islands at 60,000 US dollars each. Two of the dolphins died while under training in Langkawi, Malaysia.

The Subic trip was part of a campaign to inform the Filipino people of the Solomon dolphin issue. In the coming weeks, the campaign will be brought to different universities in Metro Manila and the provinces.

"The dolphins have lost control over their lives. They can't speak for themselves so it's up to us to speak for them, to fight for their rights and hopefully to secure their freedom," Ng stressed.

"We are asking Filipinos and Singaporeans to put themselves in the situation of the dolphins. Would you like to be forcibly removed from your house? Would you like to be put on an artificial diet? Would you like to be imprisoned forever?" Ng asked. "The answer for everyone is 'no'. So why are we doing this to dolphins?"

Other countries like Chile and Costa Rica have enacted laws banning cetacean hunting in their territorial waters. In Costa Rica, the killing, capture, injuring or use of whales, dolphins and porpoises for commercial gain is not allowed. The government of the Solomon islands has banned the export of dolphins starting January 2012.

Other groups involved in the campaign are Marine Wildlife Watch (MWWP), Wild Bird Club of the Philippines (WBCP), Dolphins Love Freedom Network (DLFN), and Save Philippine Seas (SPS). Care and Responsibility for Animals (CARA), Animal Kingdom Foundation (AKF), Palawan Animal Welfare Association as well as the animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) are also supporting the campaign.


(VERA Files is put out by veteran journalists taking a deeper look at current issues. Vera is Latin for "true.")