Monday January 7, 2013
Animal rescuers share their stories
By CHIN MUI YOON
Animal rescuers are a rare breed indeed. They give unstintingly of their time and money to rehabilitate strays and find a home for these hapless animals.
WHAT compels ordinary Malaysians to spend thousands of ringgit and countless hours to rescue, rehabilitate and re-home stray animals? Four animal rescuers share their story.
Mandy Chee, owner of a road safety business
For as long as I can remember, I have always been feeding stray dogs and cats living around my old neighbourhood in Teluk Gadong, Klang, and now Sungai Buloh, Selangor, after I got married.
The first animal I rescued was a small dog that was stranded on the newly-opened Kesas highway. I donít know how it ended up on the highway but it was terrified. I was with a friend then. I stopped by the roadside and we picked up the dog and bundled it into my car. Back then, I didnít have any money to take the dog to the vet, so I released it at a lane in a residential neighbourhood where it would be safe.
Since then, I have rescued and re-homed 40 to 50 animals. I have an eye for spotting stray animals by the road, in a drain or anywhere for that matter. Once I caught a tiny kitten along a highway. I always slow down when I see such animals.
By now, I must have spent thousands on bills from vets and food for the animals. Iíve stopped counting the costs. My husband is an animal lover; my mum does the same thing Ė pick up animals and care for them. Our dogs are very well trained and not a nuisance at all.
My precious Bella was a rescued dog. She was abandoned after she was stricken with distemper, parvo virus, and corona virus which are deadly to animals, yet Bella is a survivor! She is living proof that as long as you believe in animals and have a heart to care for them, they will live for you.
Although I have come across many sad cases of abused animals, nothing quite prepared me for the trip to rescue the animals at the Klang Municipal Council Dog Pound some years ago. I had volunteered to go to the dog pound with the Malaysian Dogs Deserve Better (MDDB).
The conditions at the dog pound were heartbreaking. The poor creatures were in such a wretched state. The healthy pets which were also rounded up were literally sentenced to death when they arrived at the pound, as diseases were rife.
There, I saw an old dog which was attacked by flesh-eating bacteria; its eyes had already decayed and it was literally rotting. We euthanised the dog to end its misery.
As for the puppies, they were so heavily infested with huge ticks that my shoes made a ďpopĒ sound all over the ground as I stepped on the ticks that fell off the puppies.
I am deeply saddened by incidences of animal cruelty and I feel it is my calling to be a rescuer. We must continue to petition for stricter laws to protect helpless animals and highlight cruelty cases. It is not okay to hurt defenceless animals which depend on us for survival.
Myza Nordin, marketing communications manager, and chairman of Furry Friends Farm
(Since the untimely death of Furry Friends Farm founder Sabrina Yeap last July, volunteer Myza Nordin has been working overtime to keep the farm running.)
The need for homes, medical care for the animals, and support Ė both physically and financially Ė has never abated. Overhead costs come up to RM40,000 to keep the farm in Kundang, Selangor, going with its 250 dogs and 150 cats.
We now have two teams operating: one on site with two full-time paid workers and two volunteers; and another team consisting of myself in administration and a treasurer. We depend 100% on donations from volunteers and well-wishers. We have five to 10 regular volunteers who come to the farm on weekends to help out.
My work with FFF began five years ago when I rescued a stray female dog that had given birth to 11 puppies but only four survived. I ended up keeping all the puppies.
Mandy, as Iíve since called her, was a family pet before she got pregnant and was abandoned. She got accidentally locked inside a chiller room, yet she survived long enough to give birth.
Six months ago, I came across Rocky. An SOS alert from a fellow animal rescuer brought me to the Selayang town centre. A mongrel, Rocky, had been hanging around a grocery shop there. He was so emaciated his ribs were protruding. He had a maggot-infested wound on his hind side; the wound was so bad that worms were falling off every time he took a step. The dog was in terrible pain and distress.
Because he was starving, it was easy for me to lure him into a cage that I brought with food inside. My whole car stank for days after that. The vet said Rocky had probably started out with minor injuries, which worsened to his present condition as he was left untreated.
Iíve been picking up stray kittens and puppies for as long as I can remember. People ask me why I do this; I guess itís inborn.
I do get very frustrated with the attitude of Malaysians who do not think twice about dumping pets they are tired of, or when the animals become old or ill or pregnant.
We need the support of the Government if we ever hope to stop animal dumping. There have been high-profile animal abuse cases, yet no charges were made. We need enforcement to put a stop to animal cruelty in the country.
Roselin Mazlan, home-maker
I help save animals purely because they need help. It all began several years ago when a dog was knocked down by a passing vehicle outside my house. I heard the yelps and ran outside. I found the dog by the roadside. It was terrified and in a lot of pain.
A passerby agreed to take the dog to my vet. The dogís jaw was dislocated and my vet said it would be better to put the dog to sleep as it would not be able to eat on its own.
The dog didnít belong to me so I took pictures of her and pasted them on lamp posts in the neighbourhood. That very evening, the owner called me. Apparently, their front gate was inadvertently left open and the dog had run out. It was very old and half-blind; as such, it didnít see passing traffic. I was pleasantly surprised when the family reimbursed me for the vetís bill.
Since then, I keep coming across stray dogs and cats wherever I go. My second rescue case involved a female dog with growths all over her. The saddest case for me was a Dalmatian that was lost and wandering around a factory site. It was so weak it could barely stand.
I took him back, bathed him and sent him to the vet. I get distressed easily at the sight of helpless animals. My parents have raised me to be compassionate to all animals. The only reward I get is seeing the animals recover and get on their feet.
Irene Low, MDDB rescue coordinator
I got involved in animal rescue when I started helping MDDB to re-home the first batch of dogs rescued from the Setapak Municipal pound. We took about 20 dogs from the pound and loaded them into our cars.
Although most of us were total strangers, we started working together. We called our contacts in a bid to find temporary homes for the dogs. Iím happy that till today, we are still in contact with most of the dogs and their new families.
Iíve seen many sad cases of animals but the one I carry in my heart is Kramer. He was brought to one of our adoption drives by his owner after the familyís electronic gate hit him and broke his back, leaving him unable to use his hind legs.
Kramer was only about two months old at the time of the accident. With love, care and proper nutrition, he grew into a beautiful, active dog despite his handicap. He got around in a makeshift set of wheels, and enjoyed nothing more than a round of fetching a toy. Sadly, Kramer died during an operation to have him castrated. This tragedy still haunts us all.
The local councils need to work with rescuers and help to neuter and spay stray animals so that they would not keep breeding. We desperately need laws to crack down on puppy mills. Conditions in these places are unspeakably cruel. Many buyers do not realise that their cute little pups come from such a place of suffering.
We encourage pet owners to spay or neuter their pets. Too many people throw out puppies and kittens that came from unwanted pregnancies. It adds to the problem of over-population of strays that puts so many innocent animals on the death row.
I have lost count of how much I have spent on rescuing and re-homing stray animals. I spend a lot of time rehabilitating puppies and dogs which are not familiar with a home environment. So before they are put up for adoption, we provide several weeks of tender loving care to get them adjusted to living with a family.
Puppies and even older dogs recover from illness and injuries much faster with loving care. I get immense joy from seeing the remarkable transformation that takes place when unwanted animals get another chance at life. We never charge a cent to the new adopted family. People do give us donations to support our work.
One animal that never fails to make me smile is a hairless mangy pup we nicknamed Rat, because he looked just like an ugly rodent. But after three weeks of intensive care, lots of love, exercise and nutritious food, Rat turned into a beautiful brindle coat dog. He has since been re-homed successfully and now lives with his loving owner in Putra Heights, Selangor. And his name is no longer Rat!