FORMER FILIPINO STREET DOG WARNS 16 YEAR OLD MASTER OF IMPENDING AVALANCHE: Dagul’s Bravery Merits North Shore Animal League America’s Lewyt Award (September 2003)
In the Philippines, dogs stare into the face danger every day. The dog meat trade within the island nation may now be illegal but, nonetheless, is still extensive. A street dog is never safe, not even a frail little puppy. But, against all odds, one of these little guys was saved by a caring family – and six years later, he returned the favor.
Journalist Freddie J. Farres is the founder of Linis Gobyerno, an organization dedicated to ending corruption in The Philippines. As a reporter for The Junction of Babuio City, Farres works tirelessly to reveal all government corruption. Not surprisingly, the worst evils are linked to the dog meat trade. Freddie believes the story of Dagul could help rid the country of this indignity. Dagul “could symbolize the entire struggle to free the community from both corruption and cruelty.” That is why Freddie Farres nominated the one-time street dog for North Shore Animal League America’s Elisabeth Lewyt Award. Listen to Dagul’s story as Freddie tells it:
Dagul was a frail puppy, wandering in the streets, when Wilmar Castillo and his older brother Jhylannie saw him. Wagging his tail, the little dog followed the brothers to their home. Thinking that the puppy’s owner might be looking for him, the boys fed the tiny dog and put him back on the street. The puppy, however, continued to return to their home. Jhylannie and Wilmar had no choice. They kept the dog and named him Dagul. He soon became an important part of the family.
Dagul is a mongrel, the type often described in Philippine street talk as Askal, short for Asong Kalye, meaning “street dog”. In other Asian nations, dogs like Dagul are called “edible dogs”. In the Philippines, these dogs are illegally butchered for food because they are readily available, overpopulated, and cheap. Askal are also disregarded as potential pets because they lack status and because people think that these dogs are stupid and difficult to train.
During Typhoon Chedang on May 27, 2003, Dagul disproved these theories.
That afternoon, Wilmar, who was 15 at the time, was practicing karaoke at the Castillo home on Dominican Hill. Dagul was barking continuously, but Wilmar paid no attention. Instead, he went to his room for a nap. But the former street dog did not give up. Still barking, he followed Wilmar into his room and directed his young master to the front door. As Wilmar opened the door, an avalanche of mud and debris came rushing down from the nearby hills. In seconds, the house was covered by tons of loose soil, gravel, and rocks. Stepping outside saved Wilmar from being buried alive, but Dagul was trapped inside the house.