The Sugboanon: This Animal Shelter Shines Hope to Neglected Animals in Cebu

According to a Native American Proverb, “We must be kind to everything that lives,” including our furry friends. 

However, the sad reality is not all are kind to our four-legged companions. Here’s a little hard pill to swallow: in the Philippines, animal neglect and abuse are normalized. 

Countless cases of abandonment and animal cruelty are shaking communities, which is why there is a need for civilians and organizations to step up and become the unsung heroes of animals— one of them being the Mayari Animal Rescue Organization, Inc. or MARO. 

Lending a Helping Paw Since 2012

The Mayari Animal Rescue Organization was founded by Joene Omega, Joey Brunet, and Dan Vetter in 2012. How did it all start? Well, it all started with a dog named Agwa. 

According to Joene Omega, she and her twin sister started as volunteers for another animal rescue organization. During the Ironman race in Cebu, many dogs were captured and impounded due to the race’s tight security. 

Moreover, at that same time, Joene and her sister saw a Facebook post about a dog named Agwa that was sent to the pound after being rescued from being trapped in a house after the owner abandoned her. Joene recalls how it was a rainy day, and they only intended to feed and rescue Agwa. However, when they got to the pound, they saw other dogs. 

“We couldn’t just go there, feed and rescue another dog, and leave the rest behind.”

Joene Omega. 

And thus, that encounter with Agwa led to the establishment of MARO. Joene, Joey, and Dan Vetter, wanted to register their own animal welfare organization. The twins and Dan were then joined by Ian Derbyshire later on.

Their organization name came from Mayari, the Filipino Goddess of the Moon and the Guardian of Animals. They wanted something nature-based that would fit perfectly with their mission and goals. 

What sets team MARO apart is that they also lead by example as they take their love for animals to heart. The founders are Vegan and Vegetarian, respectively. 

“If you want to influence other people. It would be better to influence them through actions. show that you are dedicated, not just in words.”.

Joene Omega

MARO’s mission is to prevent cruelty and needless suffering of animals and to rehabilitate and re-home abused and neglected animals. The shelter focuses on the treatment and recovery of animals in dire need of help, especially those injured. 

Furthermore, the organization supports birth and disease control and educates the public about being responsible pet owners to avoid abandonment. Not only that but MARO advocates for the development and enforcement of humane and effective animal welfare laws such as the Republic Act 8485 or the Philippine Animal Welfare Act of 1998, amended by RA10631, which is centered on the protection and getting justice for animals.

Most Memorable Rescues

MARO has met, sheltered, and provided new homes for many animals. They have also experienced loss and pain. However, their mission to help never stops. 

Aside from Agwa’s rescue, Mr. Dan Vetter recounts rescues relating to dogs who are all skin and bones, show such a fighter attitude, and recover in just a few weeks. He also shared about animals who were victims of running vehicles that miraculously made a fast recovery. One was Tuna Cat in 2012, who had a broken hip. There was also a pregnant Mama cat with dislocated hip joints.

All these animals were tended to and were given a new chance at life.

Animal Rescue in the Philippines: A Battle Going Uphill

According to Joene, being an animal rescuer in the Philippines is an uphill battle. This is because animal abuse is rampant in the country. The more dogs get abandoned, the more shelters fill up with animals. 

MARO has been operating independently in Bohol and two locations in Cebu. With a total of 198 animals, operating is not without financial challenges. Food, supplies, and volunteers have always been the shelter’s hardships. And to add to that are the vet bills for animals who need medical attention. 

But you can help turn their situation around. MARO has a fundraiser on their Facebook page to raise money for the shelter necessities. To make an animal smile today, you may donate in-kind or through monetary help. 

  • Account holder: Joenelene Omega
    • GCash/MAYA – 0998 206 6982
    • BPI – 0649962478
    • Metrobank – 902 3 902 44942 7
  • Account holder: Daniel Vetter
    • GCash – 0929 274 4220
    • BPI – 1359 3600 76
    • Swift: BOPIPHMM
    • BIC: 010040018
    • PayPal: [email protected]



WorldRemit, Xoom, Remitly, WU, RIA, Wise, etc. Cebuana, Mhuillier, RD, Palawan

Note: Please inquire about the name to send it to. Thanks!

Banks in Europe (SEPA transfer):

  • Daniel Vetter

Bank Cler

4052 Basel


IBAN CH06 0844 0253 8356 8200 2


Clearing 8440

Post 40-8888-1

Postbank Germany:

IBAN: DE60 1001 0010 0547 2751 21

Bankleitzahl 10010010


MARO Fundraisers 2023

Planning to Adopt? Here’s what you need to know

People might think that adopting is as easy as picking up your new adoptive pet. However, MARO ensures all their shelter animals are given a good home.

There is a lengthy and meticulous process to determine whether those looking to adopt are suitable candidates. 

  1. Interested adoptive owners should visit the shelter, meet the animals, and establish a positive impression.
  2. A questionnaire with educational content will be given to candidates to know the cost and effort of a pet. 
  3. Background checks should be expected, such as providing photos of the place where the pet will call home. 
  4. There is a P1000 partial reimbursement for the expenses. The rescues are all spayed/neutered vaccinated, and dogs get heartworm prevention monthly. All rescues are also scheduled to be dewormed monthly. 

A Future Where Animal Shelters No Longer Exist

MARO and other animal rescue shelters only want one thing: to cease to exist. 

They exist because hundreds of animals are abandoned and abused every day. The real fulfillment is to help all animals find a loving home and educate pet owners to be responsible. That way, there won’t be a need for animal rescue centers in the first place. 

As civilians, we can always lend the shelter a helping hand, aside from monetary and in-kind donations. If you see an abandoned animal, you can nurse it back to health on your own, provided that you are willing to do so. 

Animals deserve care, love, and respect as much as humans do. Let us all do our part to ensure no animal gets left behind. And to animal rescue shelters like MARO, we salute you for your selfless act of making a difference in an animal’s life, one paw at a time. 

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