Louise Hsiao recounts her profound journey in rescuing and adopting stray and injured animals. Anastasia Wibowo writes
Louise Hsiao shares heartwarming stories of adopting and rescuing stray animals
It’s no easy task, but someone has to do it. Actress-turned-businesswoman Louise Hsiao deeply cares for animals. Most recently, she has become a champion for protecting stray dogs in Jakarta. Indeed, Louise has always been fond of animals, ever since her childhood days. “I used to find strays and sneak them back home, and then I got in trouble with my parents,” Louise tells Indonesia Tatler.
At one point in her life, when she was living in the Maldives, she had many animal companions. Imagine Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in a beach setting. Louise is close to almost all types of animal: mandarin ducks, cranes, rabbits, cats—even a couple of hermit crabs. Over the course of her life, she has tried to rescue a mandarin crane, a squirrel, cats, and countless dogs. Currently, she has two dogs of her own: a Shiba and a Pomeranian.
Since March, Louise has been actively participating in rescuing and adopting dogs. The story started about two-and-a-half years ago, when she first moved to Jakarta and noticed the strays around her neighbourhood. She was curious—so she asked a neighbour about the animals. The person replied that they belonged to a man who might be a dog hunter and told Louise not to get involved.
Louise then proceeded to share her sentimental experience. Back then, she drove out to a remote area and was shocked to find many stray dogs and cats. There, she also met Mr Suntoro, a homeless man who lived in a makeshift tent. Mr Suntoro had been living on the premises for 15 years without water and electricity. Her heart melted—this was the moment when Louise knew she had to do something. Over time, Louise gained his trust; she gave him an allowance, and cooked and brought him healthy food. This tiresome routine got to her, though—louise failed to get enough sleep, and she eventually lost her hair and weight.
After Mr Suntoro’s approval, Louise finally found a suitable house with a spacious garden and they moved the animals first. Mr Suntoro, however, changed his mind and refused to move. It was a stressful time for Louise as she had to go back and forth between both places. When he is ready, Louise will try to move him to a better and cleaner environment.
For Louise, the biggest challenges in this venture are trust and language barriers. “It seems to me that there are a lot of people who wants to help just for the sake of their personal gain,” Louise tells us. There is also commitment issue, because the animals need long-term care, and she has to gain their trust.
“Once, I had a dog that was scared of humans and trusted no one. I tried to bathe him, but he would attempt to bite everyone,” Louise says. “Now, he is very close to me, so I changed his name from Bully to Buddy. I find joy when I spend time with my animals.
Getting a big welcome from my fur babies puts a smile on my face. Finding a home for them is always a bittersweet feeling, though.”
To the adopter, she always states that if they cannot handle the fur babies, she would welcome them back. Once, a puppy was sent back because she was ill and needed immediate medical attention. The dog had to receive a blood transfusion and is now happy and healthy under Louise’s care.
Moreover, Louise has the utmost respect fellow animal-lover Fie Fie Jo, who has helped her through many difficult times, plus two animal-shelter owners, Mrs Ting Ping Ping, the owner of Rumah Singgah, and Mrs Ismawanty Mima, the owner of Melati. “I have tremendous respect for them. They are truly animal lovers and I admire their hard work and how they put the animals first,” Louise says.
Louise hopes that she can continue to care even more for the animals. “It is not enough to only provide food—they need to be vaccinated and neutered. They need tenderness and love. In the end, I hope I can find home for all the animals currently in my care,” Louise concludes.
Over the course of her life, she has tried to rescue a mandarin crane, a squirrel, cats, and countless dogs.