Ever since she was a little girl, Heart Evangelista-Escudero said she has always had a soft spot for animals. “I grew up with me and my parents who loved dogs and I didn’t know the difference between [an] aspin and having a breed. My dad, super dog lover siya. I grew up with a lot of dogs, siguro mga 20-plus yung aso namin sa bahay so lumaki na iba iba yung aso namin. May mga aspin, meron kaming German Shepherd, iba iba sila. May Chihuahua, may pawpaw so I grew up with that talaga. Actually gusto ko nga mag-vet dati dahil dun,” she shared during the A Heart for Aspins PAWS advocacy campaign launch in Quezon City last August 23.
For her new advocacy campaign, Heart said she hopes to change people’s perception of local dogs as being inferior to dogs with breeds. She cleared up the wrong notion that aspins are always unfriendly and aggressive. “Actually tumatahol sila and na-fru-frustrate sila kasi wala sila tubig, nakatali lang sila. Siguro kahit tao ganun din magiging reaction niya, mabu-buwisit ka parang, ‘Get me out of here!’ But honestly it’s just really a mindset na nagangagat (ang aspin). Actually yung first ever dog na kumagat sa akin was a German Shepherd, linapa ako sa likod. so it’s really not about the breed. It’s really not. In fact I think they’re really, really smart. Si Panda example lang, siya lang sa lahat ng aso ko yung hindi umiihi at nag-pu-poopoo sa loob ng bahay. Sobrang behaved niya. So it’s really a mindset. That’s why ang laki ng difference when you change ‘askal’ to ‘aspin’ because it changes everybody’s thinking,” she explained.
The PAWS celebrity ambassador said she wanted to encourage people to treat aspins better. “It’s really part of my purpose to change the thinking of people about aspins. It’s about being human. I think it’s wrong na nakikita sa inyo na normal na kinakatay ang aso, nakikita ng bata na may tino-torture na aso. It shouldn’t be. It’s not normal. So not it’s not just about being a dog lover. It’s about being human. That you don’t allow it to happen. So as artistas, you can use your platform of influence to shed light and to teach people or to kind of open their eyes,” she said.
Heart said Pinoys usually treat their aspins as functional things to guard the house. “Since before we already had aspins and yung aspins namin they weren’t considered before to be the doorbell of the house, they weren’t the alarm of the house. They really slept with us. So for me it was really normal. Until sa nakita ko yung PAWS and also nung nagkaroon ako ng awareness dahil we had a farm in Cavite, dun kami nakatira, sa labas nun lagi kaming nakakarinig ng umiiyak na aso, yun pala kinakatay na pala nila. So shocked na shocked ako nun. Sinusugod namin sila, we were about 10 to 11 years old and nagagalit kami. So dun ako nagkaroon ng awareness. When I heard about PAWS I wanted to become very active sa PAWS to change the thinking of people that ni hindi ibig sabihin askal or aspin, alarm lang sila ng bahay or nakatali sila ng napakaliit sa ilalim ng araw sa harapan ng bahay. It shouldn’t be that way,” she shared.
Having rescued many dogs in the past, Heart hoped people would consider adopting or fostering before buying from a pet store or breeder. “I really promote fostering. If you can, if you have extra money or extra space, welcome them in your home and take care of them. You can also ask PAWS what to do. You’ll be surprised that there are a lot of people out there all over the world who’re willing to adopt a dog. So you just have to be patient, open your heart and take care of them and foster them. The right home will open up for them,” she said.