CREA­TURE COM­FORTS

The Peak (Malaysia) - - Pursuits • Gen G - TEXT MAYA MICHAEL PHO­TOG­RA­PHY RAISA AZZAM ART DI­REC­TION MON KAI-SIONG

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.

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