Remembering Sheena

Stop Animal Abuse in Malaysia.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

First Time In The Country An Entire Residents' Association Makes A Commitment To Animal Welfare

MONDAY JULY 21, 2008

Sugar’s story: Golden retriever is the first pedigree to join the Dr Dog programme

IT WAS a proud day for Christina Chan Lai Peng, 38, when the Taman Mutiara Puchong residents association (TMP) jointly organised Dr Dog’s third examination at its community centre recently.

Not only was her pet, Sugar, the only dog to qualify out of the 15 that took part in the examination, the golden retriever also became the first pedigree to qualify for the programme.

Making Sugar’s achievement even more heart-warming is her story, as revealed by Sabrina Yeap, founder of Furry Friends Farm, which runs the Dr Dog programme in Malaysia.

“I’m especially thrilled because Sugar’s story is quite remarkable,” Yeap said.

“She was used by an unscrupulous breeder and then dumped on the streets when she was no longer good for breeding. A volunteer at the farm begged me to take her in because she kept loitering around the shop that had used her mercilessly, as she had nowhere else to go. The volunteer was afraid a worse fate would befall her if the breeder spotted her,” said Yeap.

PIX ABOVE: Sole qualifier: Choong and Chan with Sugar, the only dog to pass Dr Dog’s third examination, is also the first pedigree to join the programme.

“I’ve tried to maintain Furry Friends Farm as a shelter for mongrels and mixed breeds only because they are the least cared for by society. Even during adoption, pedigrees are snapped up quickly but not the others.

“But when I accompanied the volunteer to look at Sugar, my heart melted. She was so rundown and didn’t look like a retriever. Her poor breathing caused her to wheeze loudly and she had serious skin problems,” Yeap recalled.

Chan, from TMP, went to Furry Friends Farm a year ago, saw Sugar and fell in love with her despite her poor condition. Under Chan’s love and care, Sugar blossomed into a beauty. Her pale colouring was replaced by a bright golden hue. Her skin problem vanished and she now has a thick, shiny coat.

“I didn’t even look at Sugar’s face when I picked her. I was at the farm to adopt a dog and I saw this great big rump facing me and fell in love with that fat backside,” said Chan, laughing.

She wanted the rest of the TMP committee to understand what Furry Friends Farm was doing, so when Window Into The Community, a Chinese show on TV2, screened a special two-part featuer on Furry Friends Farm’s Dr Dog programme, she encouraged everyone to watch it.

“We were moved to see how a Down’s Syndrome girl’s face lit up when the Dr Dogs visited her,” said TMP chairman Steven Poh Tzu Seng 52, who immediately convened a meeting to discuss how they could take part in the Dr Dog programme.

It led to TMP jointly organising Dr Dog’s third examination.

The Dr Dog programme, which was founded by Animals Asia Foundation (AAF), Hong Kong, is now in seven countries, including Malaysia where it was launched in July 2007.

In this programme, dogs visit old folks homes and children’s homes for autistic, mentally-challenged and abused children – anywhere they can bring inner healing. Last month, the Dr Dogs of China visited 40 primary school children made homeless by the Sichuan earthquake.

For those whose dogs did not make the cut, Yeap offers a second try-out after three months. Meanwhile, Dr Dog examiner Paul Choong will offer guidance on how to train their dogs.

“We are very strict with the examination because these dogs will be mingling with strangers, so they must have the right temperament – not too boisterous, patient and self-controlled,” Yeap explained.

She added that previously, only mongrels and mixed breeds were allowed to try out for the examinations because of the prejudice Malaysian society had against them. “But they’re beautiful and intelligent, just like Babe and Gideon, Malaysia's first Dr Dogs.”

“Many of us here are dog lovers and we find that adopting the Dr Dog programme also cultivates a caring community among the Taman Mutiara Puchong residents,” said Poh.

“With this programme, we hope the residents will understand that animals deserve our respect and we have a responsibility to care for them if we take them into our lives, whether we buy them from pet shops or adopt from shelters.

“They are not toys for your kids, nor alarm bells for your houses, but individuals in their own right which have their own contribution to make to the family and society,” said TMP committee member Michael Yeoh, 38.

The TMP/Dr Dog programme is the first of its kind in Malaysia where an entire residential estate has pledged its support and work together for animal welfare.

Chan is the co-ordinator of TMP’s Dr Dog Community Project.

To learn more about TMP’s Dr Dog programme, call Chris Chan at 019-380 3650 or Sabrina Yeap at 016-631 9018.


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