Dogs have lost a best friend

July 18, 2012 at 11:25 am

The wake for Sabrina Yeap will be held tonight at Nirvana Memorial Centre off Jalan Sungai Besi, KL.

Sabrina, 49, was founder of the animal shelter Furry Friends Farm.

She died of leukemia after suddenly slipping into a coma without regaining consciousness, according to FFF spokesman Myza Nordin.

Sabrina, who was orphaned after both her parents died in a car accident when she was only a month old, had been brought up in a temple.

Before starting FFF in 2006, she was an animal inspector with the Selangor SPCA, reports Wani Muthiah (initiator of NGO project Malaysian Dogs Deserve Better).

Pulau Ketam sorry saga

Sabrina Yeap was among the country’s most prominent animal activists.

The Malaysian public may best remember her for the efforts in spearheading the Pulau Selat Kering rescue mission. In late April of 2009, she came across a Chinese newspaper report about hundreds of dogs being abandoned on small, uninhabited islands off Pulau Ketam near Port Klang.

Moved by the plight of the poor dogs left to die there, she shared her concern with blogger Terence Victor Smith aka ‘TV Smith’ who immediately investigated the matter, reports animal lover Shoba Mano (The Star, 30 May 2009)

The Star photo: TV Smith (guy with camera) at Pulau Ketam

Dog dumping

TV Smith found that the Pulau Ketam villagers were rounding up stray dogs (estimated 400) and shipping them off to Pulau Selat Kering and Pulau Tengah. They had been uncomfortable with the way stray dogs were exterminated by local council officers.

Apart from strays, the residents were also believed to have dumped their own unwanted pets on the desolate islands.

The Star reported local fishermen telling Smith that since there was no food or drinking water on the islands, the desperate dogs had swum to nearby kelong. Those dogs that managed to reach the floating fish farm platforms were however thrown back into the sea where some drowned and others, having no other option, returned to the islands.

Rescue mission 2009 poster (cropped)

The problem is bad policy

TV Smith’s photo (above) of the wet puppy stuck on fallen mangrove branches – it wasn’t much of an island as the ground was just roots and twigs over seawater and the soil like quicksand – became the focal poster for a highly publicized campaign to rescue the abandoned dogs.

Pulau Ketam residents had been trapping and dumping the dogs on the islands since early March 2009, with allocations allegedly provided by Pakatan Klang municipal councillor Tee Beng Lee, said The Star. The action merely exemplifies an unthinkingly ‘criminal’ management of the problem of strays.

Below are some photos by TV Smith of the rescued animals.

FFF rescue team

There were two dog heroes in this story.

According to TV Smith, Kuning (photo below) carried out his search and rescue mission with his partner Hitam, also his ‘housemate’ on the kelong where the doggie duo lived.

Among the human rescuers were Marjorie Gabriel (see top photo, wearing ‘Tracks’ t-shirt) and Karin Lee (holding dog wrapped in blue towel) who had brought along a canoe so that they could paddle out to the several pontoons – constructed around the island as a temporary relief measure – to replenish the dog food and water supply.

Kuning in boat and Hitam (inset)

The Star photo: Dogs kept in local council pound

Fate of stray dogs

One of the widely circulated stories of callous maltreatment by dog catchers in the Klang Valley recalls how, to get the cornered stray out of a vacant house where it had sought shelter, two men had pushed it between the narrow grills of the gate while two others pulled on the loop around its head.

Imagine the excruciating pain if not the snap of broken bones.

Against this backdrop of cruelty to animals, the compassion and perseverance of rescue workers is remarkable considering the type of situations that they have to encounter.

What this group of courageous Malaysians – the sight of suffering animals is not for the faint-hearted – have steeled themselves to do and for the long haul is nothing short of admirable.

Salute to Sabrina. Rest in Peace.

Sad journey in life … photo by Steven Goh

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