This incredible story of a regular woman doing something extraordinary will make your day and restore your faith in humanity.
Cher Herrera is 37 and is a customer service representative who works from her home in Bacolod City in the Philippines. She lives in a modest 86 square meter house (about 925 square feet) with her brother, as well as her two nieces and nephew, whom she cares for. Herrera is also an avid dog lover, and has two rescue Golden Retrievers, Echo and Faith.
When Herrera was a child, she experienced a tragedy that may have fueled her compassion for animals. When she was around 8 or 9 years old, she saw her family’s beloved dog get stolen by neighbors, then watched as he was slaughtered for meat.
Years later as an adult, Herrera fed and rescued several pets, many of which were former strays. At one point, she even had 13 dogs and 9 cats! After moving to Bacolod City and adopting Echo and Faith, her brother told her about a stray dog that he’d been feeding, and she pitched in to help out, too.
After seeing the dog day after day, Herrera was surprised when he didn’t come around for a few days. She asked locals and neighbors if the stray they’d been feeding had actually been their pet, but no one claimed him. Fearing he’d been taken to the pound — which has a very high kill rate — she went to the shelter to see if she could rescue her four-legged friend.
Although she didn’t see the stray dog that she’d been looking for, Herrera met dozens of other dogs that gazed at her with desperate, hopeful eyes.
” [I] saw these dogs crying and looking at me like [they were] asking for help,” Herrera told iHeartDogs. “I asked the staff and [they] told me they were going to kill them that coming Friday.”
She said that she began shaking and crying once she learned of the innocent dogs’ upcoming fate. According to ABS-CBN News, the euthanasias, or “mercy killings,” are conducted by shooting the dogs in the head.
Desperate to save as many dogs as she could, Herrera asked the staff if she could adopt some of them. When they said she could, she began talking to them to see which ones would respond. When they all looked up at her and started wagging their tails, she realized she couldn’t save just one, or even two; so she decided to take 13 pups home, paying the adoption and vaccination fees for every single one of them.
Though Herrera had already done a heroic deed and was living in a very full house, she couldn’t stop thinking about the rest of the dogs at the shelter. So when her paycheck arrived a few days later, she went straight to the pound to save the remaining 62 dogs that were set to be euthanized.
“When my salary arrived, I went to the pound and [bought] all of them and asked people from my city if they could adopt these poor dogs,” Herrera told iHeartDogs.
When asked if she was worried about whether she could care for such a big pack, she answered, “No. I was only thinking to get them out of there and look for family that can love them and treat them as family.”
All in all, Herrera spent 10,500 Philippines pesos for adoption fees and vaccinations.
When she shared her story on Facebook, Herrera’s posts went viral and people from all over the community and the world pitched in to help by donating food and finding homes for the dogs. A friend agreed to temporarily house a good portion of the dogs, and as of now, over half of them have been adopted. What’s more, three were lost dogs who were reunited with their families!
There are about 30 dogs left who need homes, and 13 of them are still in Herrera’s care. Some of these dogs, she said, need to be worked with and re-socialized, due to the effects of past trauma.
Herrera would love to continue working for the welfare of strays and rescues, and would eradicate kill shelters in her city altogether, “if I only had the resources,” she told us.
“I really want to save all dogs from the pound and see if they have family, or look for people that can adopt them,” she said. “I also want to make some program to educate people how to properly take care of their dogs.”
Another important message she wants to share? Dogs are a “forever responsibility,” and deserve more love and attention than to just be caged or chained their entire lives. In a country where strays are rampant and resources for them are scares, she’s also a strong advocate of adopting dogs rather than purchasing them.
Herrera told us that she was contacted by an anonymous individual who wants to try to help her set up a small sanctuary in her hometown. Let’s hope that they can help Herrera’s dream come true!
This woman’s passion for animals, and her faith that everything would work out once she adopted these “death row” dogs, is truly inspiring. It goes to show that you don’t have to be rich or famous to do something truly extraordinary.
If you’d like to help, you can donate to Cher’s Go Get Funding page.