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Caring for Strays

Stray dogs were allegedly poisoned and beaten in certain residential areas in Ipoh as a last resort when authorities failed to respond to complaints made by local residents.

Is that the right way to deal with stray dogs?

Vijay Rajakumaran, 23, a full-time student at Multimedia University (MMU) from Sungai Siput does not think so. “Killing is not the solution. It’s not even an option. There are several ways we can achieve zero strays,” Vijay stressed.

Zero strays is a goal that Vijay personally set out years ago which aims at reducing the number of stray dogs and puppies to zero in towns like Sungai Siput and Ipoh by taking in stray canines, nursing them, and putting them up for adoption.

Vijay said inspiration came from Joe, the first dog he rescued.

“An injured Joe came to me years ago. His dark brown eyes spoke to me almost immediately. He was badly wounded. His bark was weak. I could tell he was in so much pain and hunger. I took him in and nursed him back to health. After a few days, I saw a healthy Joe wagging its tail at me. He jumped into my arms with the happiest look on his face. Deep inside me was this profound sense of satisfaction to see him up and running,” he said smiling. “I decided, then and there, that this was something I had to do, not just for myself but for Joe and his kind,” he said.

Since then, Vijay has single-handedly rescued and nursed over 60 stray dogs and puppies.

Vijay said that he often drives back and forth from Sungai Siput to Ipoh and if he sees any lost or hurt puppies, he takes them in and returns home.

“I always ask around first before taking them home with me. I don’t want to be charged with kidnapping,” said Vijay jokingly. He takes pregnant dogs too who are on the verge of giving birth.

When asked where he keeps all his rescued dogs and puppies, he said, “I don’t have a kennel but I do have a spacious veranda where I keep them all. I keep newborn puppies inside my house, as they require tender loving care.”

On how he nurses them, Vijay said, “I’ve done a few basic classes on dog care. If the puppies are weak or hungry, I feed them nutritious dog food. If they suffer from minor injuries, I nurse them myself. However, if they suffer from severe injuries, I take them to the nearest government veterinary clinic.”

“Once they recover it’s time to find them a new home and there’s where my friend, Anantha Rao, 23, helps out. He takes pictures of the dogs and puppies and posts them on his Facebook page (Santos Anantha) along with details like their breed, age, and our contact numbers.

“He has a lot of friends on Facebook so it’s effective, as the adoption posts often get a lot of likes and shares and are seen by many. We’ve managed to find new homes for all the rescued dogs to date,” he exclaimed.

Vijay does not charge any fee for the adoptions because he says the satisfaction that comes from knowing that these dogs and puppies have new homes is more than enough. Vijay has no plans of starting up a shelter anytime soon, as he is very much occupied with his degree, but he will someday.

Vijay said that it is possible to reduce the number of strays with love and not hate. “It’s time we take action ourselves and not rely on authorities alone. If you see a stray, take them to animal shelters or call up ISPCA or any NGO. If people don’t have the time to help strays directly, they can donate to NGOs instead,” he said.

“The simplest act of kindness can cause a ripple effect. All it takes is one act of kindness to achieve zero strays,” he concluded.

For those who are interested in adopting Vijay’s dogs can either contact Vijay: 010 6516959 or Anantha Rao: 011 3366 8016.

Paaveetra N.

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