HE eats, sleeps and breathes dogs. The unconditional love he has for the 35 stray mutts in his care is simply amazing.
There are instances where homeless James, 61, would go without a meal, sometimes up to a week. But he would make sure the dogs have enough to eat.
“I cannot imagine life without these dogs. I love them dearly. They are my life,” he said when met at his little shack at a temple near Taman Alor Vista in Relau, Penang, recently.
It has been more than one year since James’ story made headlines in the media. Back then, he had 26 dogs, including puppies, living with him in the hut.
James said that some well-wishers would bring him food but most of the time, he is on his own.
He said he would mix rice with chicken bones and some curry for the dogs’ meals.
“I’ve been staying here since 13 years ago.
“There was an offer for me to move to a home for senior citizens. But, it came with a condition that I put my dogs to sleep.”
He claimed that following the earlier media coverage, some irresponsible individuals had taken advantage of his situation by initiating “bogus” fundraising efforts.
“These people would claim they are collecting money on my behalf. But I did not receive any of it.
“There were also rumours that I was spending money on alcohol and cigarettes.
“Why would I do that? I don’t even have enough money to feed my dogs,” he said.
James hoped kind souls would come forward and genuinely assist him in whatever way they could.
He said his health problems did not allow him to work, noting that he would spend his time keeping the area clean and making simple handicrafts using aluminium cans.
Recently, a fence of partition walls collapsed and James sought help to have them replaced with pieces of zinc sheets.
“This is to ensure that the dogs remain in the area and are safe at all times,” he explained.
He expressed gratitude to the Penang Island City Council (MBPP) for allowing him to stay on the plot of council land.
“Two weeks ago, a group from MBPP dropped by to remove a portion of the fence and said they would replace it with a smaller one. But they have not done anything up till now,” he said.
James has no street address but his GPS coordinates are 5.343056, 100.268444. He can be reached at 016-4797960.
An MBPP spokesman said the council had repeatedly asked James to move from the site.
“He is occupying council land and we have asked him to move since 2016 but he has refused.
“We have given him more than enough time to leave. The plot he is staying in has been earmarked for Phase Three of the Relau Metropolitan Park.”
He added that the council did not offer to replace any gate or fence for James.