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Community Hero: This balikbayan finds fulfillment in helping stray cats find their forever homes

La Verti Residences | January 30, 2021

Rhea with her adopted pet cat, Pretzel.

A lot has been written about how pet dogs and cats bring health and wellness benefits to their owners, a popular belief that is also backed by scientific researches.

 

Fur parents, studies say, are observed to have lower heart-disease risk than those who do not own pets. Moreover, caring for pets is also believed to be an effective way of alleviating stress, anxiety, and depression.

 

One fur parent who certainly knows the many health and wellness benefits of having pets at home is DMCI Homes’ La Verti Residences homeowner, Rhea Dinsay.

 

In fact, one of the top reasons Rhea, her husband, and their two kids chose to invest in the DMCI Homes condominium in Pasay City is because it is pet-friendly.

 

“Personally I find a home is not complete without a fur baby. Animals bring so much joy and comfort. If we just click and research the benefits of having a pet, you will find so many stories,” said Rhea who has a cat and dog as pets.

 

“To name a few, personally having them helped my family and me during the lockdown specially the first few days when there were so many uncertainties. They helped calm us. They made us laugh with their antics and colorful characters,” she continued.

 

To help generate support for her advocacy, Rhea has put up Pretzel’s Place, a Facebook Page dedicated on posts and updates about her cat rescues.

Stress relievers

 

While having a pet entails commitment, Rhea said that the benefits far outweigh the responsibilities that come with it. “Studies have shown the purring of a cat lowers blood pressure and causes healing in our bodies due to the frequency of the sound they emit. Pets are stress relievers. You feel happy when you see them after a long day at work,” she pointed out.

 

Rhea’s love for fur babies dates back to when she was still a child. “I grew up with dogs. I did not like cats before. I just did not understand them. Now I realize, I did not appreciate their uniqueness, and greatly misunderstood them because I was looking at and treating them as if they were dogs. No wonder I was not gelling with the cats,” she chuckled.

 

Her love affair with cats started in June 2019 when her eldest child told her husband that she was adopting a rescue cat. “We were shocked,” Rhea recalled. “We were telling her we didn’t know anything about cats. But for every argument we threw her way, she had a concrete answer and a plan of action. We knew she gave the decision deep thought.” 

 

With great reluctance and with heavy ultimatum and discussion about responsibility, the eldest child was allowed to adopt the cat. It did not take long however before the family fell in love with the adopted cat, whom they named Pretzel. 

 

In August of the same year, Rhea left the Philippines. While she was abroad, she saw a feral cat whom she thought resembled Pretzel, and with a feeling of yearning, she fed the cat, and began taking care of it. “That time I still didn’t know that feeding strays would be something I will be doing from that day on,” she revealed.

 

In February 2020, Rhea had to come home to the Philippines to be with her family when the pandemic struck. By March, she became aware of the community cats present within the La Verti Residences compound. She then heard stories from some residents about the dire situations some cats had to endure.

 

Until one day, Rhea saw a friendly cat roaming the lobby. She brought the cat home and ended up adopting him. Little did she know that it was the beginning of a new journey. 

 

Rhea (middle) with her family. The mother of two is overjoyed to have found a condominium community that shares her family’s love for fur babies.

Pretzel’s Place

 

From that day on, Rhea began her advocacy of finding forever homes for the community cats in the compound.

 

She met with several experts and a fellow resident to know more on how to treat stray cats best. She also enlisted as a member/volunteer of the Philippine Animal Rescue Team (PART)—the first no-kill SEC registered nonprofit rescue/shelter in the Philippines—in her goal to widen her reach in rescuing, helping and find forever homes not only for La Verti Residences’ community cats but to strays in general.

 

To help generate support for her advocacy, Rhea also put up Pretzel’s Place, a Facebook Page dedicated on posts and updates about her cat rescues.

 

Since June, she has rescued around 20 cats, and saved more than that. She even brought the La Verti Residences community cats to Makati Animal Health Clinic to get neutered, spayed, vaccinated and all other vetting needs. She also helped organize TNVR (trap, neuter, vaccination, return) sessions at the compound, and the expenses of which were shared by three concerned residents.

 

Doing her advocacy, she said, gives her a sense of fulfilment and a natural high. “I get to feel happiness, a natural high. This positive emotion actually helped me battle my anxieties and depression. In saving them, they actually ended up saving me big time.”

 

She has also met with the Property Management Office (PMO) and a few tenants who had the heart to help the strays in the compound, who are just glad that someone is giving her extra time to bring awareness to the animal care and effectively manage the community cats’ population. “I am grateful that La Verti has been supportive in my desire to help the community cats,” Rhea related. “My recent talk with the Property Manager Ms. Mary Delot Estaris created a better understanding on our goals regarding the cats.”

 

Pet-friendliness aside, Rhea is grateful to be living in a space that is near commercial establishments, including ones that offer services for pets.  

 

“Another thing that I appreciate in being a La Verti resident is the convenience of the location of the property. It serves the needs of my family well. What attracted us also to DMCI Homes was the fact that when we were looking into properties, we learned that aside from developing properties, DMCI Homes is the very one constructing said properties. That made us believe in the project more,” she enthused. 

 

Having found a new purpose in life, Rhea is thankful that she has found the right community to nurture her passion. “2020 was a very tough year. But despite everything, I choose to be grateful and count my blessings. I am thankful that since the start of lockdown, God had given me many opportunities and chances to extend help in whatever way I could,” Rhea said.

 

“When 2019 ended, I was praying to the Lord to show me what else I can do with my life, and finding myself doing what I’m doing now made me realize He has answered my prayer,” she beamed.

 

La Verti Residences is one of the developments of DMCI Homes, the country’s first Quadruple A developer known for building quality resort-inspired communities in Mega Manila, Baguio, Boracay and Davao City. Each of its properties is built with world-standard craftsmanship borne from D.M. Consunji Inc.'s over 60 years of expertise in the construction and development industry. 

 

To learn more about La Verti Residences and other DMCI Homes projects, call (632) 5324-8888. News and other updates are also posted on the company's official social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

 

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