The De La Salle University-Professors for the Upliftment of Society’s Animals (DLSU-PUSA) is an organization composed of students and professors who share the same interest towards the protection of animals.
The organization composes of five core members from the College of Liberal Arts (CLA), namely Miss Laureen Velasco and Dr. Jeane Peracullo from the Philosophy Department, Dr. Maria Guadalupe Salanga and Dr. Laurene Chua-Garcia from the Psychology Department, and Dr. Elaine Tolentino from the International Studies Department. Mr. Cesar Unson from the Philosophy Department, a fellow supporter, coined the acronym “PUSA” for the organization.
PUSA has only been existing for a few years yet the organization has experienced notable expansion in their systems over the recent months.
Velasco shares that one notable development is the increasing number of student supporters, known as “PUSApporters,” who share the organization’s interest. PUSApporters assist the core members in carrying out services such as feeding the cats, maintaining feeding tools, pitching in ideas for fund raising events and, instrumentally, helping out in sales from time to time. She emphasizes how helpful student PUSApporters are, especially when they assume the execution of tasks whenever her busy schedule constricts her in doing so.
“At first, it was just only us the four members, basically the two of us, Dr. Tolentino[and me]. Now Dr. Jeane Peracullo is doing the Tuesday and Thursday morning feeding and Elaine [for] the rest of the week. And then we have somebody like Natty Manauat who recently volunteered to do the weekend. So Friday, Saturday feeding if I’m not on campus on Friday she does the Friday, Sunday and then her friend volunteered when she could do the Sunday afternoon feeding also,” she shares.
She admits that advertisements through various forms of media help in the continuous expansion of PUSA as their advocacies are further reach out to people even from outside the University. The organization has recently set up a Facebook account, which Velasco considers a very effective means of disseminating information. Exposure through a newspaper article and a TV documentary were other sufficient forms of propagating their advocacy. Velasco remarked, “After the documentary came out on Reel Time GMA News TV, more people joined DLSU PUSA. Not everybody who is on Facebook is from La Salle so they get to know it already.”
Along with the increase in volunteers, effective and relevant programs have been initiated which significantly contributed to the organization’s continuing growth since its establishment.
With the growing population of cats in campus, DLSU-PUSA maintained the implementation of the spay and neuter program which the core members have been offering since its early years. Velasco posits that the program has been very helpful and effective in controlling the population, especially if the increase in the number of wandering cats are beyond their control.
“We do [the spay and neuter] every three months. It’s a quarterly thing. Since 2014, we’ve been doing that [and] until now it’s still ongoing,” she adds. Recently, they have been able to neuter and spay seven cats on campus, including three cats in Leveriza, an area which Velasco had agreed to sponsor.
Fund raising is another program emphasized by Velasco as a notable factor in spreading the organization’s advocacies and a means of funding other programs they spearheaded. Usually held during University-wide events such as the Lasallian Mission-Vision Week, the core members and PUSApporters assembled a stall, and sold cat-related merchandise which includes stickers, ballpens, and pencil cases.
On cat adoption
PUSA offers a program where people can adopt the cats that the organization is managing. Velasco mentions that there is a momentous growth in the adoption of cats with the help of her engagements on Facebook. “Actually, last July 3, three of our kittens got adopted by three different individuals. So I would post on Facebook. In the past, I would just bring them all home. Most of them, I would say 90% of the kittens, I will bring home,” she states.
If a person is interested in adopting a cat they must undergo a screening process before the core members of the organization. Once they are approved to adopt, they are required to post regular updates through pictures of the cat on Facebook for the core members. “We want them to be in a good home. It’s our responsibility to more or less make sure. So there’s a screening process, nothing stringent,” she explains.
PUSA’s Facebook group currently has almost 900 members who share various photos and videos of them interacting with cats. Upon noticing one of its posts, Chloe Tabanda (IV, BS-PSYC), chose to adopt a cat. She describes her decision as “spontaneous” after finding a particular cat as very unique. Tabanda shares that she was able to communicate with Velasco through the Cats of DLSU Facebook page to request for an adoption.
For her, the purpose of the organization in making it possible to adopt a cat is not only to avoid cats who live astray. “I think the purpose [behind the program] is not only for the cat but also for people who want a companion,” Tabanda states.
Room for improvement
Since its creation, the novice organization still has a long way to go. Velasco expressed the need for more people to be involved in carrying out duties. There is also a concern in funding, considering that the core members shoulder all expenses. Moreover, the fundraising events, however successful, are not enough and the organization is facing the threat of bankruptcy.
Instead of monetary funds, Velasco calls for donations in goods preferably cat food. “If every student PUSApporter would donate just one can every month, if we have 200 student PUSApporters who would donate one can each which is 55 pesos, 60 pesos that’s gonna be a big help,” she ends.
Plans for the future
According to Velasco, the organization plans to upgrade the feeding trays of the cats and as of writing, they are seeking help from the Buildings and Grounds Facilities Maintenance Office to help with the production of it. PUSA also aims to produce signages that are similar to the Compassion and Responsibility for Animals (CARA) that will serve as a warning or notice to students for some cats who have the tendency to harm. The organization intends to continue with the fundraising events where they may sell cat-related merchandise. PUSA is coordinating with offices to be able to set up a stall during future University events such as the Lasallian Mission-Vision Week and the Arts Congress.