When caring for animals becomes a family affair

(From left) Dr Yabitha, her husband, Dr Ramanand Achannan and their daughter, Thysha, with their pets.

Anatomic pathologist Dr Yabitha Vasavan, 43, and her family have rescued, fostered, cared for and rehomed hundreds of dogs.

Her father was a veterinarian and her interest in animals came from watching him heal many animals that were mostly abandoned outside their home.

“I was four when my dad allowed me to select one of the four puppies abandoned outside our home.

“This dog lived with us for 16 years, until his death.

“Over the years, I have raised 10 dogs and four cats; they were all rescued animals.

“I have never shopped for an animal,” she said.

Dr Yabitha wants to be the change in the community and wants to see better regulation in place.

In many cases, even the purebreds get dumped either by backyard breeders or those who were no longer interested in raising their pets, she noted.

She said purebred cats and dogs are merely seen as a commodity by backyard breeders.

“Breeders here do not have governing bodies.

“The authorities lack manpower to go and check on breeders.

“Inbreeding and the deaths of many animals go unchecked.

“My dad had an encounter with a breeder who brought five Shih Tzus for vaccinations.

“One was smaller in size, blind and because she could not be sold, the breeder wanted to put her down.

“We adopted her and raised her for 16 years,” she recounted.

Presently, Dr Yabitha has two dogs and a cat, which are all rescued animals.

She wants to see a stray-free community and envisions better governance where authorities work with non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to find solutions to the problem of stray animals.

“Countries like Thailand, Turkiye and India have successful trap-neuter-release (TNR) programmes.

“In Malaysia, the TNR efforts are by NGOs. We need funding.

“We need better regulation of backyard breeding.

“Importation of animals is not well regulated and there are issues related to it.

“Animal rescues are financially and emotionally draining for me but I do my best.

“I can understand the predicament faced by animal shelters,” she said.

Dr Yabitha said, “If you’re going to buy a pedigree dog, check everything including the animal’s breeding details.

“Purebred dogs in Malaysia tend to have more issues compared to our local ones because they are not suited for our climate, and the inbreeding worsens their condition.

“Animals are like humans and they have feelings, likes and dislikes. Some have trauma from breeders or previous homes.”

She advised people not to buy animals impulsively.

“While abandoning an animal isn’t yet a crime, it is morally wrong and psychologically affects the animals.”

She said some people were at a loss as to what to do with pets they could no longer care for.

She urged people not to abandon their pets but to put them up for adoption instead.

Dr Yabitha also encouraged more people to help by adopting and rehabilitating these animals.

“We need a mindset change as a community and as a nation.

“As Mahatma Gandhi said ‘the greatness of the nation is by how its animals are treated’,” she said.

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Barking up the right tree

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dog , Dr Yabitha Vasavan , animal welfare


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