AMMA or Ma is commonly used to describe mother in several different languages and to A. Paremeswari, it is what she refers to herself when calling out her fur babies.
Whenever she says “Come to Amma”, they quickly rush to their ‘mother’ at any chance they get.
What started as a move to help strays by feeding them and volunteering to help animals in need, turned out to be a full-time commitment for the 46-year-old former airline cabin crew member.
Watching her feed her dogs as they all vie for her attention, the proud ‘dog mum’ says she considers it her destiny to shelter and nurture her fur babies.
Paremeswari said she started out as a feeder and volunteer in 2014, but her rented house in Tanjung Bungah, Penang, soon grew into a full-fledged shelter and currently houses some 30 dogs.
“It gradually became a shelter and now these are my children.
“I live here with them and know each of them by name, their little quirks and specific characteristics.
“They are all different, some are friendly and some are reserved due to abuse by the public.
“They are all strays or abandoned dogs, some disabled and some traumatised from abuse.
“I have dogs that were hurt and mistreated in the past, but here they are treated with love and respect,” she said when met at her shelter in Jalan Lembah Permai, Tanjung Bungah.
Her shelter has dogs as young as four months old to the oldest — a 16-year-old three-legged dog.
Paremeswari said she never wanted to stay in Penang but as fate would have it, she realised she could not leave her dogs.
“I worked in Singapore for more than 15 years and came to Penang for a short while.
“I was supposed to move to Denmark for work, but I turned it down as I believe this is my calling, to stay here and help these dogs.
“These dogs are usually referred to me by people who find them on the streets or those who need help caring for their dogs.
“I offer boarding services to families who cannot care for their pets due to their living circumstances.
“I charge the families a small amount as it helps with sustaining the shelter,” she said.
Paremeswari added that it costs her more than RM4,000 a month on dog food and their basic needs.
“This is excluding their medical care, rental and electricity bills.
“There are some kind people who occasionally chip in but so far there are no regular donors.
“I usually reach out for help when I run low on supplies like rice and meat.
“I sell T-shirts to help raise funds as well,” she said.
Paremeswari said the dogs have a healthy diet and eat twice a day.
Breakfast is usually bread or crackers, then lunch is rice and meat with vegetables.
“On weekends, they get kibbles and semolina snacks which are good for their health.
“Some of the dogs have ailments so their diet is different.
“One of them can only have fish due to skin allergies while another needs a lot of fibre as she is paralysed from waist down and needs it to help her with bowel movement.
“We have puppies, so they get eggs in their meals to help them grow,” she said.
Paremeswari, who has a helper, said before the Covid-19 pandemic, students used to volunteer at her shelter.
“I used to have many volunteers back then when I was supported by several donors. Times are bad now and I no longer have any volunteers,” she said.
She also shared that all of the dogs at her shelter were spayed, neutered and vaccinated.
“I hope to re-home the dogs and am always looking for families to adopt them,” she said.
Paremeswari can be reached at Tulsi Petcare Centre (017-4807355).