MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Every dog has its day, but few canines get a motorcade on their return home.
Kabang, who lost half her face after jumping in front of a motorcycle to save the lives of two girls, received a rousing welcome Monday in Zamboanga, a city in the southern Philippines.
The mixed-breed came back from months-long treatment at the University of California, Davis, veterinary hospital, paid for with $27,000 in donations raised in the Philippines and abroad. She was reunited with her owner, Rudy Bunggal, and the girls she saved from the accident in December 2011 — the owner's daughter, Dina, and cousin Princess Diansing.
"She is not just my friend, she is like a part of our family," 13-year-old Dina Bunggal said. "I am very thankful to her, because without her, maybe I will not be alive today."
Kabang and Rudy Bunggal rode in the back of a pickup truck festooned with yellow balloons to the Municipal Hall, where Mayor Celso Lobregat bestowed the title "Pride of Zamboanga" on the dog.
Motorcycles and cars took part in the motorcade that drove Kabang through the port city. Residents snapped photos of the dog and kids petted her. At the mayor's office, Kabang was given a bag of treats.
But all is not well in Kabang's household.
Rudy Bunggal, who told reporters he was struggling with drinking and financial problems, asked the veterinarian who had accompanied Kabang to the U.S., Anton Lim, to temporarily care for the dog.
The Philippine Daily Inquirer also quoted Bunggal's wife, Christina, as saying the couple has separated.
The husband, who worked as a mechanic, now lives alone in a shanty and found a new job as a construction worker, earning less than $5 a day.