FURRY friends and their glamourous celebrity owners posed together for the nation’s first coffee table book produced in aid of animal welfare.
The book, We are Family, is a compilation of portraits of pets and owners put together for the Homeless and Orphaned Pets Exist (HOPE) building project in Johor Baru.
Among the notable faces in the book are Datuk Ramli Ibrahim, Maya Karin, Lisa Surihani, Hans Isaac, Adibah Noor, Amber Chia, Jaclyn Victor and Datuk Chef Ismail Ahmad.
Working tirelessly for 18 months, a group of volunteers headed by famed movie producer Nancie Foo as well as 10 other committee members including Mrs Universe 2013 Carol Lee, Mrs Asia-Pacific 2013 Datin Seri Joneser Choi, journalist Alistair Tan, animal activist Lisa Yong, jewellery designer Cynthia Tee and fashion designer Edward Ho worked on the project.
A total of M536,350 was raised with the support of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak as well as donors from across society, including VIPs, pet lovers and celebrities.
The book was launched at Modesto’s Kota Damansara in the presence of several celebrities.
Foo said the idea was first mooted by local fashion designer Carven Ong who was familiar with HOPE Shelter and its founder Aunty Jia Jia.
According to her, Aunty Jia Jia had sold off her family home to build an animal shelter and now had some 2,000 stray cats and dogs under her care.
“Ong and I rounded up some like-minded friends and decided to help raise funds for the shelter. Every penny raised will be donated to HOPE and all miscellaneous expenses would be borne by each committee member,” she said.
Foo said they also believed in educating Malaysians to care for and respect animals.
She also said the book was named We are Family because those who care for cats and dogs often treat them as members of the family.
The team also urged corporate companies to include animal welfare as part of their corporate social responsibility projects.
“While over half a million ringgit sounds like a lot, HOPE Animal Shelter needs more than RM1mil to build so we are only halfway there.
“We hope developers and contractors, especially those in Johor, can help by donating recycled materials and surplus building materials and equipment like cement, wood and stones that will be useful for construction,” she added.
Aunty Jia Jia thanked the committee members and donors for helping her build a place for the animals to call home and pass on with dignity.
HOPE’s objectives are to feed and shelter strays, neuter and spay them as well as to educate communities.
“By creating greater awareness, there will come a time when the need for sanctuaries like ours will be minimalised. While we applaud some tiny steps of progress made in Malaysia over the years, we know that the work for animal welfare is never done,” she said.
During the launch, team member and architect Lim Hwa Hong presented the design for the new building on a 1.89ha plot of land in Pekan Nenas, Johor.
After that, emcee for the day and committee member Miss World Malaysia 2009 Thanuja Anantha auctioned off 10 coffee-table books and other items to raise more funds.
Famed Malaysian Indian classical dancer Datuk Ramli Ibrahim, who posed with his cat for the book, said he did it on the basis of humanity.
He said the project reflects a civilised, humane society with soul.
“This book would appeal to any animal lover, our own Sutra Foundation welcomes strays all the time at our place in Taman Tasik Titiwangsa,” he added.
Actress Adibah Noor meanwhile said Foo had approached her to pose with her cat as well.
A definite animal lover, Adibah has 45 cats at present and believes it is time people spoke up for animal rights.
“It is time somebody did it and it is important to love the other lives that God has created as well,” she said.
The limited edition We Are Family book is only available in hardcover edition. Interested buyers and donors can contact Shaun at 03-2162 8232.