PETALING JAYA: What was supposed to be a celebration of joy and sharing turned into tragedy when flash floods inundated an animal shelter in Kajang Saturday afternoon, drowning many rescued dogs - just when its staff was holding its Christmas party.
The rented premises of the Malaysia Independent Animal Rescue (MIAR) shelter, located about six metres from the banks of Sungai Kantan in Kajang, was flooded when the river overflowed due to heavy rain Saturday, drowning some of the rescued dogs, which were in cages.
"The water was seven feet (over two metres) high, and there were thirteen of us in the water trying to save the animals. We didn't want to leave them behind," said MIAR president Puspa Rani.
Puspa said that there were three workers, their family members, and other volunteers at the shelter for a Christmas party when it started flooding at around 3pm.
"Raj, one of my workers, had an electric shock when water flooded the power mains. He risked his life to rescue the animals and could have died. He is a hero," said Puspa.
Puspa herself laid her life on the line when she braved flood waters to rescue the caged dogs.
"The current was so strong and I had to cling to a tree. Despite suffering an electric shock, Raj swam over and saved me.
"He dragged me to the roof of the shelter, away from the water," recalled Puspa.
She related that the Fire and Rescue Department were unable to aid them as they were unable cross a bridge due to flood waters, and was thankful to volunteers who stayed to help the dogs.
Puspa said that they managed to save the "majority" of the dogs, but was unable to determine how many perished in the flood.
She said they also suffered personal losses such as their handphones as well as damage to their vehicles.
"Thank goodness nobody died, but most of us swallowed a lot of dirty water and suffered from cuts," said Puspa.
She said many neighbouring houses were also affected and urged the Government and local council to take action over the increasing occurrence of floods in the area.
Kajang Municipal Council (MPKj) council member Thiagarajah Rajagopal visited the shelter after receiving a call for help.
"The rescued dogs were wet and looked miserable, with volunteers attending to them.
"I think that they are lucky to be alive. From what I have heard, the currents were really strong and they could have been swept away," he said.
Thiagarajah said the shelter's grounds were covered in mud, with evidence of 2m-high water levels marked on the walls of the building.
"I saw the carcasses of the dead dogs piled up in a corner. It was very sad," he said.
Thiagarajah assured that MPKj and the Irrigation and Drainage Department were working to solve flooding problems in the area.
"We should see some major changes within the next three months," said Thiagarajah.
MIAR recently rescued 31 dogs in a raid on a Subang bungalow, suspected to be used for animal breeding on Dec 14.
Around 80 dogs, three cats, birds and even a gibbon were found on the premises when police raided the bungalow.
The Wildlife and National Parks Department and Veterinary Services Department are currently investigating the case.