with Malou Perez

(Malou in our Isabella Slip in White)

We sat down with animal welfare advocate, awaree at the 12th Asia CEO awards, and Pawssion Project founder, Malou Perez.

Despite her extremely busy schedule, she gave us a glimpse into her everyday world, her struggles, and ultimately her advocacy.

Hello Malou. Please introduce yourself.

“My name is Malou Perez, a financial advisor by profession but an animal rescuer by heart. I founded Pawssion Project on October 2018 because of the dogs on death row at the Bacolod City, Negros Occidental pound. I have always been a dog lover growing up, but I was never really aware of the realities of strays in the country – until that year.

There were 50 dogs on death row, howling and crying, with eyes begging for help inside small kennels, scheduled to be killed by gunshot – just how can you not do something about it?”

That is sad – so could you please tell us in more detail what Pawssion Project is all about?

“Pawssion Project is a nonprofit organization dedicated to rescue, rehome and rehabilitate strays and create a kinder environment for animals.

What was initially just an initiative to save that batch of dogs became a life changing mission and advocacy for me. Since then, we've rescued over 1000 dogs and cats, rehomed over 600, spayed and neutered close to 2000 and are currently sheltering around 500 rescues in two shelters.

I've had so many days when I felt like giving up was the only option left since the problem is far greater than what I had ever imagined. Currently, there are 13 million strays in the Philippines, there is no government support for them, and there are numerous people who don’t consider them sentient.

Every day, I get countless phone calls and messages from people asking for help, from pet owners either asking for assistance or wanting to give up their own pets themselves. Maintaining two shelters with hundreds of rescues while feeding hundreds of strays every day is seriously no joke. All this has taken a toll on my mental health.

Being the founder of an organization like Pawssion with no government aid can be extremely exhausting in all areas – physically, mentally, emotionally and financially – however seeing the rescues alive, happy, healthy and most importantly loved and valued by their adopters makes everything worth it.”

Aside from seeing them happy, healthy and loved – and despite all the challenges and struggles you face, what else inspires you to keep going?

“Please allow me to quote one of our volunteers –

‘We may never in our lifetimes witness animals being accorded the place they deserve in society; we may not be able to help and see all 13 million strays being rescued, rehabilitated, and rehomed, but we can live out our lives trying, one animal at a time - because each life matters.

And it matters that when the day comes that society embraces animals into its collective circle of compassion, we can say from wherever we are, that we have been on the right side of history’

When you see both the lives of animals change and even people because of this advocacy, you wouldn't want to stop – and to be honest, I wouldn't have things any other way.

I would get random messages from strangers telling me that I’ve inspired them to be kind – that because of me they have started or are about to start feeding some strays, or that because of me they have decided on rescuing strays or even adopting.

Some would also send me simple messages like... I have inspired them to take better care of their pets or I have inspired them to love their pets even more. As simple as these messages may seem, to me, they are very fulfilling.

Any advice to young women wanting to start something?

“My advice would be to pray for it, ask for guidance, take courage and if it is for the greater good (e.g. if it allows you to help a being), then go for it. Once you discover your sense of purpose, you will realize that you are stronger than you think – you are blessed and you are meant to be a blessing to others. It will never be rainbows and butterflies, but victory is always sweetest when you’ve known defeat. I may get recognized for what I do once in a while, but I always tell everyone that this is not me and it’s all God – just through me. After all, dog is just God spelled backwards ;-)”

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