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By now, you would realise that apart from having the love for flowers, we are also very passionate dog lovers. Today, I will be sharing with you in brief, the life story of a lady whom I have much respect for. I admire her strength, courage, and will, and I hope that my readers today can learn a thing or two from this post.
Her name is Cathy Strong. Together with Mohan, they founded an animal shelter – Animal Lovers League (ALL) (please click here to follow their Facebook for updates on their dogs).
As mentioned at the start, what I am going to write in this post is going to be brief yet insightful. The full and detailed story should be published by Cathy herself.
I first met Cathy one to two months after my beloved Jack Russell passed away at 16 years of age. When my family felt we were ready for a new dog, we decided to adopt instead of buy. For those of you who would like to know the reasons to our decision, check out our first article about dogs – The Truth about Local Pet Shops You Probably Didn’t Know.
Our Search for a New Dog – How ALL Captured Our Hearts
We visited many animal shelters with the hope of finding a mongrel puppy that we could really connect with. After educating ourselves about the dog situation in Singapore, we were determined to save a stray through adoption.
During a weekend in January, we found ourselves at ALL in Pasir Farmway. To be honest, the physical state of ALL is below the standards of other shelters. But there is a special magic about this place that kept us there a little longer than usual.
From what I saw and confirmed, ALL is home to about 700 dogs and cats. Some of the dogs looked really sick and injured, but there was this happiness in their eyes that helped me develop a certain attachment to this shelter.
It is a struggle to maintain minimum hygiene standards at the shelter. With so many animals and so little volunteers or helpers, Cathy really looked like a superwoman at work. There were so many animals to feed, clean, treat, and walk. Every dog had a need. Somehow, by hook or by crook, ALL could fulfil it. I like to refer to ALL as a shelter of miracles. ALL has even seen a paralyzed dog regain mobility!
I immediately symphatised with Cathy and wondered how she could do this every day. I asked myself, doesn’t she have to go home? Doesn’t she have to work for her basic necessities? This shelter is big and so many of the animals look like they need frequent medical attention. How do they cope with the funds? Not to mention, the animals need food several times a day. I looked at the ground and the dogs were peeing as they please. My final question to myself was, how in the world does this superwoman cope!?
My Conversation with Cathy
I spoke with Cathy to find out more about the organisation and herself. As it is already known, ALL was founded by Cathy and Mohan (I have only had the opportunity to briefly speak with Mohan once, and that was about Springside, the sick and injured stray I brought to ALL).
Cathy developed a love for cats and dogs many years ago. She began as a feeder and would travel long distances just to care for and feed stray animals.
Through great blessing, Cathy’s home then was a landed property in which she rented for a very cheap price. She housed and cared for many dogs and cats. I cannot remember the number but I am absolutely sure the number was not a small one. It was also to no surprise that she received many complaints from the neighbours about her furry friends. She then had to move out of that home and rented another place.
Through their own pockets, Cathy and Mohan slowly built a pet sanctuary that many of the abandoned and abused could call home.
During the SARS outbreak in 2003, many of the cats she fed daily were culled. I believe that there is no relation between SARS and cats. For all we know, this culling was done to simply show that something was done with regards to the health crisis. This was heart-breaking for Cathy. She managed to save some of them by bringing them back with her.
ALL is a no-kill shelter. That being said, they will never ever put an animal to sleep. They also aggressively encourage adoption and responsible pet ownership.
Her Sacrifices and Worries
Cathy spends most of her time with the animals in the shelter and she constantly worries about finding money to cover the shelter’s expenses for each month. Their main source of income is through donations. Especially those who pledge a monthly amount of money to them.
Insane Bills With Close to Zero Income
ALL is already experiencing difficulties and yet their expenses are increasing by the day. Can you imagine? ALL’s rental is at least 20,000 SGD per month. Life is really not fair, isn’t it? But somehow, they have managed to persevere. Despite owing their vet about 30,000 SGD, their mission and goal will never change. Their strong characters are admirable and it would do them much help if other people practiced better consideration.
It is really ironic that ALL’s landlord are breeders. I am not quite fond of breeders. If you read my first article, you will know why.
She is always compromising on her comfort and standard of living by using her personal funds to fund the shelter. ALL provides a boarding service to help defray their monthly cost. They charge 5 SGD a day if you require their boarding services. A typical boarding home would charge 25 SGD.
Your Help is Needed
I have visited ALL several times and I am actually guilty for not providing much help to the organisation. It makes me sound so hypocritical to claim that I care and yet not do much about it. I am hoping to start as a weekly volunteer the following weekend and I hope to see you there.
ALL need all the help they can get. If you are unable to provide financial assistance, I am sure your time will always be valued. These dogs can put a smile on your face any day and any time. I urge that should you come, you come with an open heart and mind. It is unpleasant to see a volunteer pulling a long face just because he does not want to get his hands dirty. The fact that you are delegated to do something means that it is something that has to be done. I believe they are too short of manpower to be delegating redundant tasks.
I have started by starting a crowd funding campaign for a stray I rescued in my neighbourhood. For those of you who are unaware, check out these posts on how we rescued Springside, and an update of him.
Crowd Funding Campaign
I started a crowd funding campaign for Springside because his bills are expensive and the money we gave to Cathy can only cover a fraction of the total bill.
Since starting the campaign, I have now had two donations, amounting to 120 SGD. This may be a small and slow step, but it has motivated me very much.
I hope to be able to start a crowd funding campaign for the other dogs of ALL that are in greater need, and for ALL as a whole. If you would like to make a donation to the medical fees of Springside, please click here. If you are not able to donate (no obligations at all), a share would be greatly appreciated.
I guarantee that all funds will go to subsidising his medical fees and I will be providing some form of documentation to the donators when the campaign ends in November.
If you would like to join me on this adventure to raise funds for the lovely dogs of ALL, you could do so by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I have a plan that I cannot wait to execute. I am currently trying to get a team of influential bloggers to create greater awareness with regards to this issue.
Everybody, thank you for your time. I hope this post has provided you with a greater understanding of the dog situation in Singapore.
Just to side track a little, 2 months after adopting Elliot from ALL, we decided to bring him to pay Cathy a visit. He is extremely shy and is only playful with family. He is afraid of other dogs and strangers. We thought he would fear meeting Cathy just like how he is afraid of everyone else. But no, his reaction to seeing Cathy was just beautiful. She is truly the voice of the voiceless.
I suck at taking photos. But these are beautiful.