September 2, 2014 09:35 PM PST
SINCE 2007

Kabang journeys home

Dr. Anton Mari H. Lim, the Filipino veterinarian who originally attended to Kabang, flew May 26 from Zamboanga City in the Philippines to process Kabang’s release and homecoming. Kabang left the Philippines in a motorcade from Makati City to the airport and a fitting hero’s welcome awaits the once mother of six in Manila and Zamboanga. But in a tragic twist, mom Kabang will be saddened to discover that only one of her six puppies, named JR, survived during her absence and will cuddle her upon return to owner Rudy Bunggal’s home.

Kabang and Dr. Lim came to UC Davis in October 2012 on a donated flight of Philippine Airlines, customs and care provided by Global Animal Transport of Canyon County, California, free hotel room courtesy of Hallmark Inn of Davis, California and assistance from Tzu Chi Foundation.  Bunggal failed to accompany Kabang because of his failure to secure birth certificate and passport for the good samaritan trip.

Again, Philippine Airlines will fly home Kabang this Thursday (June 6) from the San Francisco International Airport and will arrive in Manila Saturday (June 8), according to Team Kabang’s Mona Consunji. Kabang and Dr. Lim will proceed to the Animal House Veterinary Clinic in Manila. A public viewing will follow a press conference. She is scheduled to return to Zamboanga the following day. A motorcade, pet event and party will welcome Kabang in her homecity on Monday.

Kabang leaves the American soil with stories ablaze with nostalgia and emotion for her remarkable survival and treatment from specialist hands that restored her to health after being discovered that she suffered from heartworm disease and a type of infectious cancer known as a transmissible venereal tumor.

“Kabang’s care at the teaching hospital was a great example of the synergistic approach we have toward veterinary medicine at UC Davis,” stated Professor Frank Verstraete, chief of the dentistry and oral surgery service at the School of Veterinary Medicine’s William R. Pritchard Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital. Kabang was heartworm and cancer-free by February and was determined to be in good health and ready for dental and facial procedures.

On March 5, veterinary surgeons Verstraete and Boaz Arzi first performed oral surgery to remove two of the dog’s upper teeth and reconstruct one eyelid that had been damaged.  Then they prepared for the maxillofacial surgery to correct the dog’s facial injury.The nearly five-hour surgery on March 27 closed Kabang’s facial wound with skin flaps that were brought forward from the top and sides of her head. Following that procedure, Verstraete and Arzi collaborated with William Culp, a veterinary soft-tissue surgeon at UC Davis, to reconstruct nasal openings and insert stents in those passages that would allow two new permanent nostrils to form.

Many Kabang watchers harbored fond thoughts of full restoration of her snoutless face and functional upper jaw. But the team of surgeons frustrated them as they ruled this out as an option. Their ultimate goal was to close the facial wound to protect Kabang against infection. Kabang received the final clean bill of health last May 28.

Apart from the UC Davis group,   Team Kabang functionaries, Dr. Lim and co-caretaker veterinarian Ed Unson, Care for Kabang initiator Karen Kenngott of Buffalo, New York, playmate Liza Sullivan, Dawn Gillete who presided over Kabang’s successful recovery at her private animal convalescent facility near Woodland and  22,100 supporters from over 45 countries will follow Kabang’s  new life in her homeland like a Filipino telenovela. The news and social media will, for the longest time, be afire with Kabang’s saga. Money contributions mostly came in small denominations. But of all, that kid who donated 44 cents after skipping a meal just to contribute to Kabang’s fund will always take pride that the best in humanities’ goodness has been anviled all for the love of Kabang.