They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. In some cases, these powerful images can also help to change lives for the better. Here’s how one local campaign aims to get abandoned animals out of shelters and into forever homes – one photograph at a time. The bond between humans and their furry companions can bring meaning to our lives in a way that is both inexplicable and yet magical. Despite these benefits, there are still countless loving animals out in the world in dire need of a good home. While a lucky few may end up reclaimed or adopted, most of them wind up living out their natural lives roaming the streets where they must fend for themselves.
Fortunately for these forsaken creatures, there exist humane societies that are willing to go above and beyond to ensure that these animals have a new lease on life, which includes the Paws Animal Welfare Society (PAWS). Founded in 1987 by a small group of local and expatriate volunteers, this humble NGO, located along Subang Airport Road, provides both shelter and care to an estimated 500 stray cats and dogs that have either been neglected, abused or abandoned simply because their owners are either incapable or no longer feel compelled to keep them.
Edward Lim, who has served as the shelter’s manager for 14 years, explains: “PAWS receives no government funding; we fully depend on the support of the public and they have been very generous. It costs at least MYR60,000 per month just to maintain the shelter. We try to keep the overheads as low as possible, which is why we only have a handful of full-time staffers, while the extra help comes from volunteers.”
Among the many supporters who believe in the PAWS cause is Yng Lyn Siew, the dynamic Chief Innovator and Executive Director of Dynamite Genius – the company behind Kuala Lumpur’s Ruyi & Lyn restaurant – who also happens to have a soft spot for these furry friends in dire need of tender loving care. As the proud owner of two elderly corgis and three rescue cats of mixed breeds, Lyn explains her rapport with shelter animals: “There is this profound quote that I love which goes, ‘Saving one animal won’t change the world, but it will change the world for that one animal’. The most amazing reciprocation comes from animals, as they truly show gratitude when they are loved.”
“Growing up, I remember volunteering in many animal shelters and also fostering abandoned pets back when I was residing in Singapore – so you can say that I have a natural affinity for adopting shelter animals. I strongly believe that these animals are as good as the ones you will find at the pet shop. The added value of adopting a shelter animal is that you not only end up with a loyal companion, but also contribute towards a bigger cause.” With this in mind, Lyn decided to join forces with fellow animal lover Amelia Lim to launch a special community project called Paws Up!, to help shine a spotlight on the plight faced by local animal shelters while also promoting a campaign known as Mutual Rescue.
“It was actually my three-year-old cat named Tom who really inspired me to set up this campaign in Malaysia, which gives abandoned animals a second chance in life. I remember when we first adopted Tom from the shelter. He had a viral infection, which left him severely malnourished. I really wasn’t sure if he was even going to make it and remember sleeping with him in the same room just to help him cope with his digestive problems. It took about six months for him to fully recover and, today, he is a happy, healthy and lovable cat. All of my rescues are living testaments to how these pets can really help change lives by teaching us perseverance, empathy and, most important of all, love.”
Amelia, who is the Head of Marketing at Singapore-based price comparison site GoBear, was quick to share some words on the main motivation behind this project: “Once Lyn and I discovered our mutual love for animals, we started talking about the need to not only help these shelters in Malaysia but also to raise awareness on matters that could potentially impact the way the community treats these abandoned animals. I still remember my first-ever visit to an animal shelter, which took place about 15 years ago, and how it was such a heartbreaking experience. They had so many animals and I just wanted to take them all home or even open my own sanctuary just to relieve their suffering.”
“So when I visited PAWS this year, I really understood just how much support they need for their mission. Not only do places like PAWS struggle with day-to-day operations, many of them just don’t have the necessary
PET PROJECT Besides helping local animal shelters, Paws Up! also wants to establish proper foster programmes and promote compulsory micro-chipping for pets as a way to reduce the country’s rate of animal abandonment.