Having celebrated Malaysia’s 62nd Independence Day this year, I would like to put forth a question that has been on my mind for the longest time. Is the celebration of the birth of our federation something that all citizens can truly be proud of, and by that I mean ALL citizens? My justification in asking this lies in who or what are considered citizens because technically, aren’t animals part of the equation too? The subject of animal welfare in Malaysia still raises questions as to whether as a society, do we really practice what’s entrenched in our laws that provide an environment of safety and compassion for our four-legged citizens who are still found homeless and in dire states, in unimaginable numbers across the country?
The state of our strays is a perpetual matter of distressing concern to many who spend tireless hours with never enough financial resources rescuing, treating, caring, and eventually (or not), rehoming them. Although stricter laws have been implemented in the Animal Welfare Act 2015 in regards to treatment and handling, it unfortunately hasn’t decreased the exorbitant numbers of homeless strays and the act of neutering and spaying isn’t enforced enough. In fact, in order to really address our stray problem, a neuter/spay clause for pet owners should be implemented, stricter regulations should be imposed against the kitten and puppy mills who supply pet shops, as well as pet dumping. In fact, even the city and town councils are not abiding by these laws when catching strays, and the conditions of government pounds are always found in deplorable conditions with no registered vet on the premises to ensure proper handling, or to administer humane euthanasia.
There are many NGOs around the country who have made it their life’s mission to help our defenseless strays by raising funds of their own to house, treat, and rehome our strays. Among them is one particular individual who has been doing so in her retirement years with her own money, and help from volunteers who frequent her privately-run shelter to assist in caring for her troop of rescued dogs.
Meet Sharon Yap, a former nurse and full-time mum turned Rescue Hero. She runs a privately run shelter called Sharon’s Dog Home in Damansara that basically started out with one pup who was abandoned where she lived back in 2015. Over time, she kept finding more abandoned dogs and puppies in her neighbourhood and decided to not just rescue these animals, but also to educate herself on caring and training them with the help of local veterinary services. Managing to find a space to house her rescues, Sharon feeds them, treats them for fleas and ticks, toilet trains them, and gives them basic obedience training in order for them to get adopted easier.
Being a non-profit shelter, Sharon’s Dog Home relies on donations. She also has the help of volunteers looking to give their time to charitable causes, and they assist with dog walking and feeding. To date, Sharon has successfully rehomed up to 50 dogs to families looking to adopt a furry to love and care for.
When I met with Sharon and her rescues, I learned that quite a number of them came to her in wretched conditions with some being temporarily paralyzed, abused, and suffering from various health complications. Sharon has been tirelessly caring for each and every one, enabling them to heal and recover before going on to their forever homes.
When asked about her message to the general public, Sharon stressed that she wanted to educate potential adopters to consider taking in adult dogs, not just puppies. She spoke about always seeing sad and depressing stories of abandoned strays with no hope of a decent life and she decided to try and make a difference with educating people on adoption, neutering and spaying, and providing a healthy and loving home for rescues.
“Dogs have been cohabitating with humans for thousands of years since the domestication of wolves. They are migratory animals, and they can adapt to more than one owner if their situation changes. They are great at adjusting to new environments and people unlike other species of animals because they have a different kind of intelligence and survival skills. They are very in tuned with humans and they can be trained to do all kinds of tasks such as guarding, providing security, being in the police force or military, they can be trained to rescue humans from dangerous situations, to provide therapy, and best of all, they’re companions, “ says Sharon.
She also says that the misconception of it being difficult to train older dogs as opposed to pups needs to change as dogs take to training naturally, when taught with patience and repetition. “As adopters, people also need to be aware of the psychological condition of their rescues in order to anticipate their needs. Every dog will have different needs and we need to be able to adapt to them rather than the other way around. Dogs learn routines very quickly, but we need to ensure they are getting appropriate care and attention for them to be healthy, happy, and functional,” she tells me.
Sharon’s parting words to me were, “It is never the fault of a dog that is born a stray. It is the fault of us humans.”
For those looking to change the life of a rescue, contact Sharon Yap at +6012 378 5685, and she will assist you in finding the right dog for you. Donations are gladly welcomed too.
Facebook: Sharon’s Dog Home