JOHOR BARU: Dubbed one of the spookiest places in the country, Christine Villa has become a home for stray dogs rescued off the streets.
The mansion near Danga Bay, already at the centre of ghost stories and strange tales, grew more infamous when a boy was reported missing after exploring it in November 2013.
The 16-year-old was later found at his girlfriend’s house. He had apparently forgotten to tell his mother where he would be later that night.
The tales involving the mansion were so widespread that it was featured in a movie in 2015.
But nowadays, there is also the patter of many paws at the mansion. Companion Animal Rescue Effort Society (Cares) founder and chairman Joseph Chia said the 75,000sq ft property has been turned into a shelter for strays.
The Singaporean owner initially asked Chia to be caretaker some 10 months ago, so he housed three or four dogs there to help deter any trespassers.
“But since I was coming here daily to feed the dogs, I asked the owner’s permission to put the place to better use, as a shelter for strays, and he agreed,” Chia told The Star yesterday.
He said Cares has been running a shelter with some 200 dogs at Lima Kedai in Gelang Patah for the past 13 years.
But the place was not easy to get to, making it difficult for potential adopters of the strays to find it.
“Christine Villa is more convenient because it is in the heart of town,” he said.
Asked if there have been any strange happenings at the mansion since he started the caretaker job, Chia said that a few visitors and volunteers had reported eerie experiences but he had yet to experience anything like that.
He said a volunteer swore that a lady in white haunted the second floor of the mansion and a Filipina helper claimed there was a ghostly figure by the guardhouse.
“I have noticed that the dogs also limit their movements, they won’t go into certain parts and often bark at the bathroom on the lower floor, which is strange because there is nothing in there whenever I check,” he said.
But haunted or not, Chia believes the mansion was the best thing to happen to the dogs.