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Catastrophic Event at Dog Shelter

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In the last few months of hiatus, I’d spent my time with friends, relatives and catching up on outdoor pursuits all over Germany & Italy and getting a bit of underwater time in Egypt. I took a break from myself because I wanted to get more input to be able to give output. I was writing for work so much that I’ve lost some mojo in the things that once brought me such joy. One event led to the next, and though people may envy my travels, they don’t really know how disconnected I become when I come back from each trip, catching up on friends’ FB feed and desiring fellowship with great buddies. One friend got married, had a baby with a man I didn’t know she married because I thought she was still dating her long time boyfriend whom I happen to also know. I asked her privately, of course, much to my confusion and thankfully, it wasn’t as embarrassing as I thought it would be. Honesty and forthrightness go a long way to preserving relationships. I don’t believe in talking behind anyone’s back unless I’m giving them praises.

I got to a stage in life where I started to place importance in keeping friends who want to stay in touch, I began to keep away from those who are malignant. I became less attached to social media starting with my weaning off Twitter & Google+, using it only to communicate with several people pertaining to current issues. I stay in touch with good friends who are also busy, making no demands on their time as they made no demands on mine and when we meet, it would be as if no time had passed between us at all. I made a resolution last year to only write what would be of good cheer, useful and informative articles for the benefit of my audience who take the time to journey with me.

I was also getting over a traumatic event.

Just before the turn of the New Year, a Christmas party I attended at a dog shelter ended up in a disaster. I couldn’t write about it then because I was distraught and injured. What seemed to be a fine afternoon of celebration in the sun with cheery dogs running about, a sudden storm turned the river outside into a raging torrent that submerged the shelter and all other houses in the vicinity in over 2 metres of muddy water. 13 volunteers and workers including Puspa, the founder of the shelter, Aziz & myself, were scrambling to raise the cages & free the dogs but the flood waters rose so fast, there wasn’t enough time to get all to safety and dry ground resulting in deaths. Everyone did their best to get as many dogs out, those of us who could swim, were grabbing dogs paddling about to hoist them to higher platforms, those who couldn’t, were clinging on to several dogs on trees, pillars & roofs for their dear lives. The scene was right out of a catastrophic mudslide except that this happened in Kajang, on our soil, to our people. Having my supposedly waterproof Sony Xperia Z1 phone in my pocket while I swam to & fro the main gate of the shelter’s compound to call for help, had actually flooded it. If only I can get hold of the footage I filmed when the flood happened, it would give you an idea what we endured before risking our lives to save our dogs. The incident left many broken hearted.

The rain didn’t stop. When the waters rose passed knee deep. I began to pray. This was way beyond what I was trained for in disaster management and life saving but I couldn’t leave them stranded and knowing the majority of our nation could not swim, it was a call of duty. I knew Aziz could swim, having been educated in the U.K., I expected him to be able to. He was rescuing bags of food and the box of frozen chicken. I asked God what to do. By then, the water had reached my waist. A rat swam frantically by. There was also a snake in the water. I didn’t flinch. I was just stunned. It was barely minutes. I had a backpack filled with documents, electronic gadgets, tablets & devices that weren’t protected. I pleaded for help. Lord, if you want me to do this right, please protect my belongings! God made me turn around & there, I saw a bungee cord hanging on the door! Then He showed me a pipe near the roof for me to climb up the window sill to tie my bag there. In my breath, I heaved a sigh of relief and gave thanks to God who always fished me out of trouble. Then the rescue really begun. I tried to stay calm and talked to those who couldn’t swim. We released all dogs within our perimeters to fend for themselves. My priority was human beings, dogs go to heaven any way. Dogs have an inbuilt ability to swim. Humans don’t. The larger dogs in the outside compound cages were freed in time and being social animals, they clamoured onto us & clung on for dear lives onto our shoulders and backs. If I wasn’t a strong swimmer, I would’ve drowned in all that weight. I tossed whoever was in my grasp to either Baskaran, the staff who got onto the higher platform with 20 other panicky dogs or Aziz who would bring the dogs to stand above the hoisted cages. Somehow, they know trouble was brewing. I couldn’t let my voice falter or they would hear my tone of distress that would trouble them even more. The last thing I needed was for the 20+ dogs to jump out of the holding platform at once to head for the torrential river outside the gate. I had scratches and bruises and like the rest, I wasn’t going to let go of them. Joey lost her car in the floods. It was almost like a repeat of Pulau Selat Kering back in 2009.

When the firemen finally got to us, they asked us how many we were and if there are children present. They asked us if we needed to be rescued in the waters well over my head. I said to them, where’s the boat, we only want to be rescued if we know we can leave here with our dogs. Bomba left us. Hmmm……I guess they don’t rescue dogs.

Thiaga from DAP, the party who came to our aid, offered Puspa a factory premise nearby to temporarily host the dogs till she can find something more permanent. Having had floods before, the current shelter is no longer a safe haven and she has got to move before another flood hits and by then, it wouldn’t be coinciding with any more parties with volunteers who know how to swim being present. Coming out to attend Pesta Balakong, the DAP councillor gave us new T-Shirts to change from our totally soaked & stinky attire. My foot was bleeding from having kicked some sharp object underwater but the pain was nothing compared to the pain of losing these beloved dogs in the flood. I don’t know the figures because I didn’t stay behind to witness the depressing sight which the workers had the terrible task of doing. More volunteers arrived after our calls for help reached social media. Anthony was my beacon. I never cried so hard before for the loss of these innocent lives caught in a catastrophe. It was something beyond our control. I cannot speak for the accusations levelled at Puspa on the running of the association but I was there at the scene with her to see her risk her life for her dogs. And so did her workers and volunteers present. I went home in a daze and washed my hair 3 times. I caught a chill but my thoughts were with MIAR. We can leave the incident but the incident can never leave us.

Upon hearing our ordeal, Steven Yong on behalf of HTC Malaysia came forward and gave the 13 of us at MIAR a replacement phone each. What a wonderful thing to do! A major commercial brand reached out to those who stayed behind for their four-legged friends. Thank you, HTC! The HTC Desire 610 is serving me very well. I’m reminded of the dogs that didn’t make it and the dogs that did. I asked God for a place in heaven for each one of them who crossed the Rainbow Bridge that day. And may those who lent a hand during the rescue and the post-rescue clean-up be blessed abundantly for answering the call for help. The empathy shown just blew me away.

CAT Addresses Attack of An Interesting Specie

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A panoramic view of the meeting in progress with chairman, Anthony Thanasayan.

It’s a monumental effort for CAT (Canine Advisory Team) to convene with the predominantly Muslim councillors from each district in Selangor to come to an agreement on executing plans pertaining to stray dogs management. Muslims being the majority in the country, we appreciate the efforts by them to find a fairground on dog issues & agree to disagree on certain issues. What was discussed on the panel was the dog park with each council giving their support for it to be set up, though in areas occupied by mainly Malays, they have had no request to have a dog park. Those in Shah Alam, Sepang & Selayang haven’t received any request whereas different rules apply in the municipality of Klang, Subang Jaya & Petaling Jaya. In Klang, dogs are allowed on leash to follow their owners everywhere even though they have no dog parks.

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Dr. Zainol of DBKL on the left.

The guest of honour we’ve had the pleasure of convening with, was Dr. Zainol of DBKL (City Hall). His input in matters concerning the pounds in Setapak & the recent collaboration with MIAR (Malaysian Independent Animal Rescue) was much sought after especially when there are quarters undermining their efforts of getting the pound dogs adopted. Previously, one organisation headed by a psychopathic reporter who’s task is to demonise any efforts by town councils or city hall to address the stray dog issue, had been trying to browbeat DBKL & MBPJ by portraying them as animal-catching fiends. This of course, had set off a string of gullible believers of incredulous claims, who then set on a rampage to verbally hammer the authorities without facts.

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Meeting in progress.

Wising up to their ways, the councils have come to predict what this organisation is all about. It’s become passé & this has caused them to lose credibility, not that they have any in the first place, and caused all councils in Selangor to boycott this ONE organisation. They are not even registered as a society. When you have someone at the top who makes squalid attempts to slander individuals with libel, associating with them can cause you your reputation too. Very soon, you will be the NEXT target. A person who has so much hatred cannot be tasked with nation-building. Dr. Zainol told me about a letter written to them alleging atrocious keeping of dogs at their pound. I told Dr. Zainol that if it was true, he wouldn’t be working with MIAR & the public now. Appointing MIAR, a registered NGO, headed by Puspa Rani & Shalinee Fernandez who’s a lawyer, they can’t go wrong. Puspa may be ranting off her frustrations publicly on her page but her love & dedication for strays is genuine & true. Shalinee, being a lawyer, has a great scale of legal knowledge & ability to vocalise change for the betterment of the management of dogs in the country. Putting Shalinee on the board of CAT together with other NGOs on the panel is a boon to the team! Too bad the organisations she had helped before didn’t recognise her ability but rather, they sought to discredit her by their same modus operandi used on anyone with good ideas.

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Having breakfast with Anthony, Shalinee & Yani of Klang Town Council.

Dr. Zainol briefed that since the bylaws had been updated in 2011, the restriction of having domestic pets above the ground floor of apartments has been lifted, thus, permitting dwellers in apartments to KEEP a dog as a pet but must be mindful to NOT let it be an annoyance to neighbours. Dog owners in apartments can finally REJOICE!!!!

Finally, we addressed the issue of the service dogs being put to sleep by the Fire & Rescue Department. Why is it not surprising that the same group of people (comprising of wanimo-sapiens – a genus called Wanii & the species of Waniipets, who hail from the same genus but camouflaged as another being) would launch a rampage to discredit the Department for a task that dignified the passing of their service dogs? I want to say thank you to the trainers who have dedicated their time & effort to train a dog to save a life in a fire or a hazard raid. And that they know it’s not right to give them up for adoption when they are so sick. Please read the letter by Anthony Thanasayan after he had met with the Fire & Rescue Department authorities at Putrajaya on Wednesday & published in The Star newspapers today. I want to thank the Fire & Rescue Department for having such good practices in putting the welfare of the dog first, even if it means to put them to rest after many months of deliberation. I would like to ask you readers to not entertain claims by wanimo-sapiens who take pride in tearing nations down with gutter-reporting & baseless accusations. As a journalist, I must have facts before I write & anything that I dish out, must be credible & accountable. Unfortunately, wanimo-sapiens do not practice that so what you get is basically waniarrhoea.

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A well-wisher came to congratulate Anthony on our way back from lunch after the CAT meeting.

Note:- I’ve been besieged with assignments that has left me exhausted & unable to blog for awhile. I believe in taking care of priorities & my friends who share burdens with me. Wait for my next blogpost addressing disaster packs!

The World Didn’t End, It Has Just Begun.

What 2012 had been was a year of drama, excitement, elation, grief, distress, mourning all at once. The year passed so quickly. With the blink of an eye, I’d been to several countries & back. Some of my involvement with social work has been enlightening too. Being one of the country’s representative for The Access Initiative (TAI) with Jeffrey Phang, I was able to learn what others pay top dollars to do so. Returning from our regional meeting in Bangkok, we were able to put our knowledge to work. Mom passed away just before the trip & I missed my flight but I knew it was important for me to be there. As part of the initiative, we are to advocate access to information, access to public participation in matters concerning the environment that would affect people & access to justice. We are now in the process of getting a club to adopt the hardcore poor homes by sponsoring food stuff. They are also keen to have the kids from the Drum Circle perform on their annual dinner event. More about that in time to come. Meetings with these wonderful ladies from the club is so heartening. With the passing of a life, another event begins.

On the animal welfare front, we have gained good ground by working with the first local council in Malaysia to celebrate & honour World Animal Day 2012. All thanks to Anthony T, who spearheaded & founded CAT (Canine Advisory Team, a panel in which I sit in) in MBPJ as a councillor since 2008, we will soon have a dog park to let our dogs be paw-loose & fancy-free! Listen to his speech at the launch of the day in the video below.

So much work set in motion by Sabrina Yeap, who also passed away this year, contributed to this effort of councils & organisations getting together. There are those who think that they are a contributing factor while they clamour for her stature but no one have the guts & gall that Sabrina had to have spent her life dedicated to making life worth living for the animals. Hardly surprising because those who deem themselves important have so many personalities uprising from their virtue of stunning others with incorrigible behaviour & expletives incontinence. And their little squadron of likeminded individuals, usually personalities playing up from not following doctor’s orders, would start to fire at anyone & everyone who has never known of such vocabulary. Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks, the pen writes or the keyboard types. When these keyboard warriors go on a rampage, they can only fool some of the people, some of the time. When some of these individuals stopped making sense years ago, I’ve pretty much disregarded their significance in the world of rescue. They have only themselves to rescue out of the pit they have dug & fallen into some time ago. I pray that they would find peace amidst the turmoil they face within.
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Later on in the year, I was featured on a full page of a Chinese daily & Szee Cshieng, the journalist from Kwong Wah Yit Poh contacted me a month ahead to set an appointment for the feature. We met in 2007 at the LIMA exhibition in Langkawi. Since then, she had been following my pursuits on FB. Thank you for the compliments in the 7 roles that you reprised of me but I see myself as an adventurer more than as a star. If God has given us skills & talents, then we must use them to bless others. Even if it’s just to teach a new skill, impart a knowledge or to share responsibilities. In doing this, my life is enriched. In living life to the fullest, I am able to create pieces that thrills from having lived that journey of getting to wherever or whatever. This came shortly after my interview with Cars, Bikes & Trucks section of New Straits Times & a feature done by Grace Chen.

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A directive from the top had me moving out of the city & into the beautiful countryside. My move is all done now & settling into my new place is easy. It’s the unpacking & organising of my stuff that’s daunting. Taking for granted of my ever present kitchen for the last 7 years, I didn’t know how much I missed not having one so I fitted in a brand new stainless steel kitchen & got myself a full-fledged/featured microwave oven that grills, bakes, steams & microwaves! Rufus took about 10 days to resign to his new home & he’s loving it here too. And my cousin Lisa gave me an infrared gas stove as a house-warming gift and guess who has been dropping in for meals ever since??? My beloved guest from Italy & the Scotsman living opposite my place! Hahahaha! Thanks, Lisa! I love the stove! I got a chicken timer for Christmas too & a pack of drink stirrers in addition to some birthday presents (gadgets & a locket). They also loved the DOM Benedictine that’s been evaporating from my non-consumption of it & topping it with Bulla’s Caramel Toffee Ice Cream, it seemed to have made these men happy! Not to mention, we even had a go at my rice wine meant for cooking…….. Time to stock up my freezer & pantry!

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When packing to move, I found my stash of yarn. It was then that I decided to pick up my first love of crochet & made a pair of gloves, a cowl for my winter trips, two boleros and now starting on my another pair of gloves. I ordered more yarn & am enjoying church service so much more!

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Making full use of fill-in time like getting caught in traffic jams, in between appointments & travelling transits, I was able to make all that. Imagine if I had more time on my hands! I’d be attempting to make those pretty tunics & dresses! If you like crochet, follow my crochet boards on Pinterest to get patterns & inspiration!

So the world didn’t end. Even after Chien died, mom died, Chien’s mom died, Sabrina died, Maxine died. I choose to think that my chapter with them has ended. And they would want me to write new books & chart new paths with other people too. And my world, the one that God has blessed me with, has just begun. Thank you, Lord, for a remarkable 2012.

Doggone Good in CAT

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The Canine Advisory Team (CAT) meeting started with a minute of silence in honour of our departed friend, Sabrina Yeap, who had demonstrated love & compassion towards abandoned & unwanted dogs & cats in her 22 years of service in animal welfare organisations. The team is chaired by Anthony Thanasayan, the councillor in MBPJ who champions causes for the disabled community as well as founding an animal welfare group to train dogs for animal-assisted therapy for the Disabled and Elderly Association.

32 members of the team were invited to attend the meeting from all over Selangor on Monday 23 July, at 2:30pm, comprising of councillors from various municipalities, DVS (Department of Veterinary Services) and non-governmental organisations such as SPCA, MIAR (Malaysian Independent Animal Rescue), MKA, MSAVA (Malaysian Small Animals Veterinary Association) & Pet Positive. The chairperson set the tone for the session that followed by giving every party an opportunity to air their views including objections.

We addressed issues of gazetting dog parks in existing parks to enable dog owners to have recreation time with their beloved animals. Noting that almost all public parks are off-limits to dogs, the team endeavoured to look into the sensitivities of other cultures such as the majority of Muslims in the country who are averse to dogs & how best to educate the public in responsibly managing their pets when outdoors. Dr. Fazillah of DVS was very supportive of the proposed plan & even noted that she grew up with 8 dogs when her father was managing an estate then. She is now a veterinarian & she’s a Muslim. Her input has enlightened many who were present at the meeting & everything had to start with awareness & education.

Another effort the team is looking into is the setting up of spay clinics with subsidised rates for spaying/neutering of strays brought in by the public. We even discussed the possibilities of involving the public in adopting strays in their community, a classification of stray dogs that Dr. Fazillah calls, ‘community dogs.’ Being all for the idea of ‘catch, neuter & release,’ the team was made to understand that when dogs are removed from a place, other strays dogs will come in to occupy the void. Better to have dogs you know & are familiar with than dogs you don’t know/are not familiar with. The purpose is to help curb the stray population & prevent unnecessary proliferation of strays.

The team also addressed campaigns to promote responsible ownership of dogs & recognising independent rescuers from the public to work with. The meeting gained momentum when all NGO’s gave their views in support of ideas proposed. We came away knowing what we can look forward to achieving.

I am optimistic that we will finally get somewhere with Anthony being at the helm as soon as he was reinstated after an irrational, multiple personalities newswoman abused her position to campaign for his removal from the council. To think that this monumental effort of CAT that started in 2008 by Anthony himself was suspended, halted & possibly ended just so that one person gets her revenge is absolutely unthinkable. God has restored his authority & I hope he gets vindicated too. By the way, Anthony is a disabled person & his optimism & focus is not on himself but on how he can be of assistance to those who need it.

Unfortunately in this country, in the world of dogs & their fanatical lovers, there is no reasoning, rationale, logic nor sensibility when they resort to hounding & harassment of individuals who are opposed to certain practices or those who have the discernment & knowledge to unearth their dirty tactics of appealing to public’s sympathies in their endeavour to get funding. In their desperation to defend their territories like dogs who pee to mark their boundaries, they will go on a rampage like rabid dogs to discredit & disparage anyone who exposes them. There is no vaccine for people with behavioural issues & they can only go as far as their bark. I certainly hope they seek professional help before they spread their contagious convulsions to their ignorant pack of sidekicks.

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Swearing-In ceremony with Menteri Besar

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Anthony taking a snapshot with me.