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Animal shelters maxed out | The Star

ANIMAL shelters in Johor are finding it hard to take in more abandoned cats and dogs because of the financial constraints they have been facing since the Covid-19 pandemic began more than two years ago.

Homeless and Orphan Pets Exist (Hope) development team leader Francis Gan said the shelter could not accept more abandoned pets.

“We will not do anyone justice if we take in more abandoned cats and dogs when we cannot provide the necessary care for them,” said Gan, 35.

She said when the 1.94ha shelter located within an oil palm plantation in Pekan Nanas, Pontian in Johor, opened in 2007, it only had about two cats and 20 dogs.

“Fifteen years later, the shelter houses some 200 cats and 3,000 dogs.”

She said 70% of the animals at the shelter, located about 35km from Johor Baru city centre, were strays and the rest were pets that had been abandoned or abused by their owners.

“We receive about 20 calls daily and we cannot take in all the animals, so we refer callers to other shelters or animal clinics to treat the animals,” said Gan.

She said the number of cats and dogs abandoned by their owners since the start of the first movement control order on March 18, 2020, had been on the rise.

Among the reasons owners abandoned their pets during the MCO, she said, were loss of income, stress and finding the animal a burden.

“We need about RM270,000 monthly to run the place, including paying salaries to our 15 workers,” she said, adding that the shelter needed at least 25 workers.

Of that expenditure sum, Gan said about RM140,000 was spent on 80 bags of pet food daily, each weighing 15kg.

“We are a non-profit organization and do not get any financial assistance from the government. We rely on donations from the public,” she said.

She noted that when times were bad, people would stop donating or reduce their donations to charitable bodies and non-governmental organisations.

Another animal welfare organization in Johor is facing the same problem.

Companion Animal Rescue Effort Society (Cares) chairman Joseph Chia said the number of dogs at the shelter was limited to 200.

“We cannot take in more animals as we depend on public donations to run the place,” he said.

The animal shelter is located in a durian orchard in Lima Kedai, a small town between Gelang Patah and Skudai, about 25km from Johor Baru city centre.

It also has a transit center at Villa Nabila in Johor Baru, a run-down colonial bungalow perched on a hill overlooking Danga Bay.

Chia, 61, a retiree, started the Lima Kedai dog shelter in 2002 with 15 dogs.

“We need about RM10,000 a month to feed the 200 dogs and RM2,000 for veterinary expenses. The sum excludes salaries for our two workers,” he said.

Each month, the shelter’s expenses total RM15,000, he added. Chia said people had stopped donating or were giving less to the shelter when the Covid-19 pandemic hit in early 2020.

“The number of abandoned pets rose during the various MCOs in 2020 and 2021 because many lost their jobs and could no longer afford to take care of their pets,” he highlighted.

He said there had been also cases of cats and dogs home alone because their owners were working in Singapore.

These pets had to be cared for by family members or neighbours, or had been placed in pet hotels as their owners did not expect the border with Singapore to be closed when the MCO was imposed.

“During that time, we made house calls on alternate days to feed the pets in their homes, in response to requests from the owners,” he said.

Chia said of the 200 dogs at Cares shelter, half of them were strays while the others were abandoned pets.

The shelter spends between RM150 and RM250 per animal to spay and neuter dogs at the shelter.

To contribute to Cares, call 014-613 0617 or visit facebook.com/caresjb

Hope Shelter can be contacted at 012-716 7123, via facebook.com/hopejb or hopejbdonation@gmail.com

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