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Wednesday August 21, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Wednesday August 21, 2013 MYT 8:48:55 AM
by sheela chandran
Dr A. Baskaran, 73, has been feeding stray dogs in a secondary jungle near his home in Seremban for over six years.
Retirees lend a helping hand to give a new lease of life to abandoned animals.
MORE senior citizens are putting their time to good use by volunteering at animal shelters. Their efforts further prove that age is no impediment to lending a helping hand to furry four-legged friends in need.
For the last two years, piano tuner Lim Hun Eng, 64, and wife, homemaker Leow Mooi Yeng, 65, have been volunteers at animal shelter Furry Friends Farm in Kundang, Selangor. The couple have been dedicating their Thursdays to assist at the animal sanctuary – co-founded by the late Sabrina Yeap in 2006 – by preparing meals for over 300 dogs and 150 cats.
Lim visited the sanctuary two years ago to drop off two stray dogs that lived near his home. However, his heart melted when he saw how Yeap was struggling to care for abandoned animals at the shelter.
“I felt saddened knowing that Sabrina had to care for the pitiful animals with minimal funds. Instead of passing the buck to her, I decided to adopt the stray dogs, and vouched to volunteer my services on a weekly basis,” said the Shah Alam-based retiree, who has also adopted a stray cat from his neighbourhood.
Every Thursday morning, the elderly couple take an hour’s drive from their home to Kundang to cook meals and also help out with tasks like plumbing, electrical repairs and mending broken cages. Leow has even taken it upon herself to prepare lunch for the five workers who are stationed at the sanctuary.
Lim feels blessed to have his wife’s support to help out at the sanctuary. “I’m lucky that my wife is also an animal lover and enjoys accompanying me on trips to the shelter. On Thursdays, she wakes up extra early to prepare lunch for the workers. While caring for these animals comes with a fair share of hurdles, my wife has no complaints as she enjoys the company of these loving animals. I really appreciate her hard work,” he says.
Besides helping to improve the quality of life of homeless animals, Lim explains that helping out at the shelter provides him with an opportunity to mingle with other volunteers. “The biggest satisfaction is caring for the animals and watching them grow. Some animals are victims of abuse while others have suffered malnutrition. I sympathise with their plight and try to nurse them back to health. There’s nothing more rewarding than watching them grow and become healthy. Plus it gives us a chance to interact with other volunteers with a passion for animals,” said Lim, who spends about eight hours a week at the sanctuary.
Leow concurs, hoping more people would reach out to serve as volunteers at animal shelters. “Some may find it a chore to help out at shelters but it is important to give these animals a better life. Anyone can help as a volunteer and perform various duties ranging from feeding the animals, playing with and walking the dogs to cleaning kennels. It also gives one a sense of achievement, especially in nursing wounded animals back to health,” says the mother of two sons, aged 38 and 36.
Animal lovers Sue Muru, in her 60s, and G. Sandy, 63, are volunteers with Independent Pet Rescuers Malaysia (IPRM), comprising individuals who rescue, rehabilitate and re-home animals. Looking after stray animals is part and parcel of life as these retirees have been actively caring for animals for over 30 years.
Last year alone, Sue helped to rescue and foster 10 dogs for IPRM.
“I am an animal lover and have cared for dogs and cats for many years. Till today, I feed stray cats and pick some up and nurse them back to health at home. I was introduced to IPRM founder Sherrina Krishnan-Leyow through a mutual friend a few years back, and have been helping to care for animals whenever the need arises,” said Sue, a former staff at a stockbroking firm in KL before her retirement.
As foster-volunteers, Sue and Sandy assist in rescuing animals from the streets. They then take these animals home, providing a safe environment for them to mature, socialise and heal from existing wounds or illnesses.
KL-based Sue says caring for the animals has provided her with an opportunity to make good use of her time after retirement.
“After retirement, I suddenly felt I had a lot of free time on my hands. With my two children all grown up, I didn’t want to waste time at home doing nothing. I decided to add more value to my life by being part of a community service that’s worthwhile,” said Sue, who has over 20 adopted stray cats at home.
Sandy – who is Sherrina’s aunt – is an active member of IPRM. A few years ago, she obtained her driving licence and now helps to transport animals to veterinary clinics for treatment and vaccinations.
“Having obtained my driving licence after retirement has provided a window of opportunity to interact with other volunteers. It has also built my confidence to help Sherrina to organise adoption drives for dogs and cats. This further reiterates the fact that age should never be a barrier when it comes to volunteer work.”
A heart for strays
In Seremban, medical practitioner Dr A. Baskaran, 73, has been feeding abandoned animals for over six years, spending an average of RM500 per month on dog food. He feeds 10 stray dogs at a secondary jungle situated near his home in Rasah.
“A friend informed me about a few stray dogs that were taking shelter at an abandoned guard house near my home. I have a soft spot for dogs and felt pity for these animals. I decided to feed them with chicken parts cooked with rice.
“Initially, the dogs seemed apprehensive and scared but after some time, they have grown fond of me. Nowadays, the dogs come running out from the secondary jungle upon hearing the sound of my car horn, a sign that dinner has arrived,” said the grandfather of three, who also complements the animals’ diet with biscuit pellets on weekends and public holidays.
Dr Baskaran – who works in a clinic in Senawang, Negri Sembilan – prepares the meal for the homeless animals daily. After work every evening, he heads to the secondary jungle to feed the dogs. Whenever he travels outstation or overseas, he makes the necessary arrangements with friends to ensure the animals continue to be fed.
“These dogs are helpless. They were born here and this is their world. It is quite pitiful as they don’t know where else to go for food. I have taken a few dogs to be spayed or neutered to control the population,” says the animal lover who has adopted two abused dogs which he named Randy and Rock. The father-of-three also hopes for stricter provisions in the Animal Act to reduce the cases of cruelty against animals.
“Animals are helpless creatures and the number of animal abuse cases in the country is disheartening. Hopefully, there will be harsher punishment, like increasing the penalty for animal cruelty, to curb abuses. It is important that people change their mentality and learn to treat pets like part of their family.”
>For more information, go to facebook.com/furryfriendsfarmmalaysia or petrescuekl.blogspot.com.
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