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With the latest Isuzu D-Max in hand, I say ‘go four by fourth, and multiply not’

Social media is already full of sugary-sweet scenes of pet lovers lavishing love on their furry companions. On the flipside, though, we also read tragic tales of abused and maltreated pets as heartbreakingly told by those who witness them. We also see evidence of animals being run over by vehicles, of what we call “roadkill”.

“Survival of the fittest”, as some may dismiss these everyday mishaps. But for me, who has dedicated a large chunk of my lifetime saving distressed animals (apart from being vegan and not consuming any sentient being), I see these roadkills as utterly senseless and unnecessary, especially since the root of the problem—animal overpopulation—can be easily addressed.

Stray animals make up a large bulk, if not the majority, of our animal population. According to the Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), in 2019 there were an estimated 12 million stray animals roaming the country’s streets. The public sees this problem as something they can’t do anything about, and leave it to local government or barangay officials to take care of (but oftentimes, our LGUs are also at a loss, both in logistics and funds, on how to properly and humanely manage stray animals).

I believe each of us can play a role in the humane management of stray animals. And in a way, we also owe it to society. Let’s admit it, how many times have we allowed our pet cats and dogs to multiply, and then give (or God forbid, sell) these kittens or puppies to others, and then when we can’t (or won’t) keep them in our households anymore, we let the animals roam outside to mate left and right? That’s right, these millions of stray animals began from just a handful of domesticated pets led astray. Life on the streets is utterly harsh for these strays, who, aside from having to battle the elements and struggling to find their next meals, have to fight off one another during the mating seasons. By being spayed or neutered, we effectively eliminate some of the cruelest factors of street life for them. Spayed/neutered animals don’t roam around too much and aren’t as restless and noisy during the mating season. There’s also less tendency for fighting, thus, injuries and the likely transmission of disease are also lessened.

That’s why, for many years now, every chance I get, I bring any stray animal I get my hands on to spaying and neutering centers. It’s my own small contribution to breaking the cycle of animal overpopulation and cruelty.

The PPBCC receiving area

“Kapon”, the vernacular for spaying/neutering, doesn’t have to empty your pockets. Just check the social media sites of Philippine spaying/neutering programs with affordable rates. There’s a number of them in active operation nowadays. More than 20 years ago, our small group of volunteers in the Inquirer regularly brought strays—mostly cats—to the Philippine Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PSPCA) in Recto, Manila to undergo kapon procedures at cheap rates. Currently, we go to the Philippine Pet Birth Control Center (PPBCC), a foundation in Mandaluyong City, for neutering/spaying strays. PAWS has its own affordable kapon program. If you do opt to have your pets or stray animals in your area spayed/neutered, please take note that they must NOT be captured by the barangay and held captive at the city pound. Otherwise, all the spaying/neutering efforts would be wasted, as new stray cats will invade the territory, and then multiply, in no time.

Incidentally, World Spay Day is on Feb. 22, so for my fellow motorists, why don’t you give spaying/neutering your neighborhood stray animals a serious thought?

Just recently, I had in my use the all-new Isuzu D-Max 3.0 LS-E 4×4 in a winsome Valencia Orange—the top-of-the-line variant of the leading Japanese truck maker’s best selling pickup. And as fate would have it, PPBCC was also offering promo rates for its spaying/neutering program. So, putting two and two together (well, in this case putting 11 stray cats and a 4×4 together), I decided that this high-tech pickup would provide the best transport solution for the task at hand.

To make a long story short, it certainly was more taxing to coax 11 feral cats into their cages than to load the cages onto the pickup bed and drive them off to Mandaluyong, that’s for sure. I was pretty certain that on my way to PPBCC from my home in Las Pinas—a two-hour drive during one cool morning late December—my fellow motorists would have seen a truly curious sight: On one end was this head-turning pick-up with the massive front grill, front bumper, and a mean muscular vibe. On the other end were caged, wide-eyed cats going on a road trip. Lest my fellow motorists think that these cats were headed to a cruel dead end, I attached a “for spaying/neutering” sign on the rear, hoping that my example would inspire them to hatch their own kapon schemes.

It turns out that a number of the D-Max’s technological features came in handy when dealing with my furry wards. The parking aid of the Advance Driver Assist System (ADAS) was helpful when it came to spotting cats in the vicinity while backing or even going forward. The Forward Collision Warning and Auto Braking were distractions at first, but I soon got the hang of it for a smoother drive, which helped calm down my jumpy passengers. The state-of-the art Smart Duo-Cam cameras and sensors helped me monitor not just the surrounding vehicles but the stray animals around our vicinity.

The all-new Isuzu D-Max 3.0 LS-E 4×4

Apart from these features, the all-new D-Max also boasts of other active safety features such as the antilock brake system, electronic brake force distribution with brake assist, electronic stability control, traction control system, hill start assist and hill descent control, and brake override system, to name a few.

I have since returned the D-Max to my generous friends at Isuzu Philippines Corp (IPC). It has become one of my most memorable test drives, for it not only signals that Isuzu has elevated its pickup line in safety and technology (I have always equated the Isuzu brand to durability, dependability, toughness and reliability, but now it’s also up there in terms of aesthetics and in-car innovations), but in my own personal way, I have also kept the Isuzu brand “human” and “humane.”

I’m sure my 11 feral but spayed/neutered cats won’t look at another Isuzu D-Max the same way again.                             

A bed of cats arrive at the Philippine Pet Birth Control Center in Mandaluyong City
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