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Charles Leslie Wartenberg, founder of the International Wildlife Coalition Trust-UK (IWCT), Animal Kingdom Foundation, Inc -Philippines (AKF) and Animal Kingdom Foundation -UK (AKF-UK) passed away at the age of 84 on December 18, 2016. He is survived by his wife Julie Wartenberg and Sweet, a dog he rescued from the dog meat trade in the Philippines.
Charles’ contribution to animal welfare abroad and in the Philippines is undeniably significant. He started with the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) campaigning for the Europian ban on seal coat importation while protesting the killing of seal pups in Canada. He had gone to Rwanda helping the preservation of the Orangutans, to Spain protesting the drowning of young bulls and decapitation of hanged geese when cyclists pull on their heads. In the late 1990’s, he came to the Philippines after discovering in a newspaper article that dog meat trade was prevalent here. He established AKF and began his campaign to end the dog meat trade through various rescue operations of dogs bound for slaughter.
In 2006, Charles made possible his dream of building a shelter to care for and rehabilitate the dogs rescued by AKF. He did not want dogs to be put down, he wanted them to enjoy what’s left of their hard life or be adopted by loving families. The shelter has become a haven for those who want to help out in caring for the dogs. Foreign and local volunteers and visitors claim it as a must-place to visit in Central Luzon.
With his boundless-energy and unwavering resolve in rescuing slaughter bound dogs and sending perpetrators to prison, Charles made possible through partnerships with other charities, local animal welfare groups, including the government in effecting amendments to the improvement of animal welfare regulations. He was one of the main proponents of the National Plan of Action of 2006, whereby the Bureau of Animal Health and Welfare Division, The Department of Interior and Local Government and The National Meat Inspection Service collaborated and committed to establish a national mandate to implement the animal welfare laws towards the elimination of the dog meat trade.
Charles spearheaded the campaign to spread awareness in schools and local communities through passionate education officers, rehabilitate and re-home rounded up dogs from city pounds and provide free spay and neuter via community veterinary missions and events.
He was a dedicated and passionate animal welfare advocate and he loved the Philippine dogs. He may have gone ahead but his legacy lives and will be continued.