Strays roam the street, foraging for scraps and shelter from nature’s elements. Life on the streets is not a good one, especially for animals. I’m here to tell you about the ups and downs of rescues I have experience along with my friends. We are mainly doing it voluntary and during our free time. Many are students and working adults.
In Kuala Lumpur, there are many stray dogs and cats and once a while, rabbits on the streets. These strays can be purebreeds and mixed breeds. It is pitiful to see such animals without home or protection. They were not pure wild strays, these animals used to be pets. Why do I say that? The animals actually crave attention and the warmness of our touch. There have been so many dogs and cats that have actually wanted to be touched by us. Just signal or make a clicking sound and these animals will come bounding with wagging tails and deep purrs. These animals are what we call abandon animals, no one cares for them. To help, animal lovers have formed small rescue groups but they acted alone and it was slow. To help with the rescues and adoption, the circle of rescue friends has widened and together, we are able to help more pets find good homes.
People these days get pets on impulse without thinking of the consequences. I have had calls where people ask me questions like “how to train a puppy?” and “why is the cat so noisy?” or “how can I make the puppy stop barking?” These questions actually show that the person who adopted or bought the pet does not have a single idea what the pet needs. We give out trial adoptions first to see how everything goes. It is sad to see when an adopter tells us that he or she has had experience with dogs or love cats 100% but after the adoption, we get back calls saying the puppy misbehaved or the cat scratched them and they would like us to take back the animal. Animals are not like humans and they learn slowly with patience and from good training. Some adopters may say they have experience but the fact is they actually have experience playing and looking at them but as for caring, it is left to the maid to do and that is unfair. Parents with young children also buy pets on impulse like rabbits but after a while, the rabbits grew bigger, stronger, and less adorable and are more of a chore to have around. Later on, they sell them back to the pet shop, surrender it to the nearest animal shelter or dump them on the streets.
I have come to realize that there are people that think the animals are better off as strays than be in a shelter and be put to sleep. It is a pity that Malaysia does not have a “no kill” shelter yet and only SPCA and PAWS are available in a few states. Not all unwanted animals are surrendered to the SPCA and PAWS, majority of the pets are left to be strays. Is this right? People think that they have done a good deed, which is the dog, cat or rabbit does not have to die at the shelter but the truth is these animals suffer more on the streets because they are not street wise animals, they are not wild. Pet dogs have the hardest time as strays for they have experience on the streets, the dogs may not know how dangerous a highway or a car is, they may not know what is edible and what is not edible. There are poisons and death traps everywhere for these animals. Female dogs that go on heat will be chased by all the stray males and becomes heavily pregnant in an unsafe environment that has little to eat and danger everywhere. The female dogs may have been mated many times; they may get pregnant every time they go on heat. It is bad for the dogs’ health and pregnancies can cause death. The puppies born may be weak, small and diseased. It is not a proper life for any animal. All stray animals become diseased, their body covered with mange, their body skinny from the rubbish they eat, the parasites covering their bodies and others. This is not only on cats and dogs, rabbits are also thrown out, left at playgrounds and parks where they become a dog’s or cat’s dinner in the end or plain road kill.
I have seen and rescued dogs that have been thrown out of their homes. They are normally found mangy, skinny, have broken bones, furless and sometimes aggressive or timid. The sight is just heart breaking. Open wounds, lost limbs, infected eyes and sores all over. They smell terrible and the sight of them sometimes scares away people. My friends and I try and rescue as many as we can. Vet bills are high but we are fortunate to have contacts with caring vets that gives us discounts. The rescues are not easy. Some animals that have just been abandon are friendly enough for us to leash and carry but some are plain aggressive from the previous way they were brought up or they have been on the streets far too long and have experienced kicks and abuse by man. These special cases take us from days to months to rescue. Patience is the key to successfully rescue an animal. Rescuing, especially dogs is risky. I have been bitten many times, along with other rescuers, it is normal for us to get bitten and scratched. Yes, the rescue work is tiring with all the chasing and fostering and can be quite stressful but we push aside our feelings and do what we can. The female dogs and cats are normally spayed after the rescue, some of these animals are too wild to be re-homed do we have no choice but do a spay and release, pray and hope that the animal gets a slightly better life without pregnancies. The animals that we rescued and have potential to be adopted are distributed to a number of foster homes available in our circle. There are not many foster homes so we only rescue what can be rescued because over rescuing can cause a problem. Once the animals settle down, every member tries to promote the animal. We do advertisements, flyers and also spread the word by mouth and in forums.
The best part about rescue work is that we get to give an unwanted animal a second chance in living a proper live. No starvation, no danger, just lots of care and love. All rescue groups try to give out free adoptions but it is hard when the medical bills are high. Only sometimes do we ask back a small token in return, be it in money form or food supplies. That is the best we can do. I’m glad that there are still many that care for these unwanted animals and gladly adopt them. I get emails and phone calls from previous adopters, updating me on the life of their new pets. It is wonderful to hear such updates from successful adoptions. There are sometimes the odd unsuccessful adoptions but they are minor and we do what we can to see get adopted.
There are many homeless unwanted animals out there, we cannot rescue all but we rescue what we can. It is better to rescue one animal off the street than rescue none at all. It is a slow process with a high cost but in the end, seeing an animal get a home and find love is truly the best repayment to us. So, help those that cannot speak for themselves.
These pictures are some of the successful rescues. All the animals have found great adopters.
For your information, the German Shepherd was found with severe mange, malnutrition, deformed back, weak legs and aggressive. After 3 months of love and care from us, he became an affectionate dog. He was adopted by a kind Singaporean that drove all the way to KL to get the dog. The photo shows a before rescue and after rescue.