Letter: S.O.S. Call from Ipoh, Malaysia

Letter and Photos by Caren Leong 

There is an imminent disaster in Ipoh, my hometown. Too many people have thrown their pets out because it was rumored that cats and dogs transmit the Coronavirus. The City rounds them up and dumps them at a garbage dump in a small town called Papan.

Noah’s Ark Ipoh Animal Welfare (Bahtera Noah Ipoh), the local animal welfare group, is truly struggling with this. The situation has gotten really bad. There are now hundreds of dogs dumped there, and they need to be spayed and neutered immediately.

Stray and abandoned dogs are a problem everywhere, but they are usually not crammed into such a small area. The population explosion that is just weeks away is a cruel tipping point because the barking and the increased number of dogs alone will lead to large-scale poisoning. I am ashamed to admit this, but we’ve seen images from Malaysia of lifeless dogs foaming at the mouth surrounded by flies. Don’t make the volunteers witness these traumatizing events hundreds of times.

Noah’s Ark has been helping Ipoh for 11 years. They feed, rescue, find homes, educate, and do trap-neuter-release (TNR). In a TNR program, trapped dogs/cats are brought in to be spayed or neutered, and returned to where they were found. It’s sad, but that is the life of an unwanted animal.

It may seem rude asking for donations for animals when humans are suffering so terribly, but half my plea is for the volunteers. This new crisis at Papan is just too overwhelming. The volunteers are worried, emotionally pained and financially stressed. No matter how hard they try, they just can’t keep up. How could they? About 10 new dogs are dumped there every day. All efforts to convince the City to adopt a humane and effective approach have failed. Short on time, low on money; these volunteers are physically down in the dumps.

Most eateries are closed due to the pandemic so the dogs can’t even find food scraps. With the Movement Control Order in effect, there are even fewer people who can volunteer. Yet, day after day, the remaining few feed these dogs in extreme heat and humidity; not just dogs, but cats and monkeys in and around Ipoh.

When a monkey ran away with the container of kibbles, they laughed. Laughing through tears. These are my unsung hometown heroes; many of yours too. They are also an exemplary group of Malaysians. Indians, Malays, Chinese and Caucasians working together for a good cause including cleaning up the dump site. That embodies Muhibbah; the Malaysian spirit of friendship and camaraderie that many overseas Malaysians miss. Here it is in flesh and blood, tears and sweat. Let’s show them some love.

Noah’s Ark is a cost-conscious organization; they buy food wholesale, collect food scraps from restaurants, cook rice to add to the food to stretch it out, collect used and donated materials to build rain shelters to help the dogs stay dry, etc. They are doing their best to cope with all that.


What they urgently need is financial help with medical bills. Malaysians, especially those from Perak state, and the Ipoh area need to do our part. This burden is not the volunteers’ alone to bear. This burden is created by bad government policies and bad humans, maybe even by our neighbors and relatives.

Noah’s Ark is not asking for anything luxurious. They are simply trying to prevent thousands and thousands of unwanted puppies from being born, starved, and suffer just to die young or poisoned. This is a whole new problem nobody needs. Perhaps trying to find their way home, many dogs have been run over on the nearby highway. The lucky ones die immediately. We know mommies with young puppies will travel very far looking for food for them. Imagine a nursing mommy dying on the highway.

This is a race against time to prevent a crisis. Generally, male and female dogs start reproducing at only six months old. Females get pregnant twice a year until they are close to death. One mommy could give birth to as many as eight puppies each time. These nine could cause 72 puppies in just six months. There are already hundreds of mature dogs there. You do the math. I’ve done some for your convenience.

The costs to spay a female and to neuter a male vary by weight and surgery type. The most favorable price given by a kind vet is RM 120 (on average). It is among the cheapest in the world.

That’s roughly £24, €27, $30 American Dollars, $40 Canadian Dollars, $42 Singapore Dollars and $43 Australian Dollars.

With my recent donation, Noah’s Ark has queued 10 dogs for surgery, but there are hundreds waiting. In her thank-you message, Malika wrote, “I believe in the rippling effect. You have started the ripple.” Those gracious words compelled me to organize this fundraiser. Please don’t disappoint her. I will donate more. I will cover the 3% GoFundMe fees, and all bank transfer fees. That way, all 100% of your donation will go to them and be put to good use. I will post receipts and documentation.

These surgeries are the only way to snip the problem in the bud. In this case, a stitch in time can really save nine.

Please donate generously. The volunteers will do the rest. This is a big problem that requires a big solution. Donate in honor of your home country, of my home country, in honor of your childhood memories or in honor of your pet that is so lucky to have you as his/her parent.

Encourage those in Malaysia to donate, volunteer or adopt some of these dogs. Encourage your non-Malaysian friends and family to donate too. Most of them will never visit Malaysia. Show them this side of our country. Don’t be shy about sharing this. A multi-racial group of Malaysians doing everything they can to proactively help pitiful abandoned animals is something to be very proud of. Noah’s Ark has been answering SOS calls for 11 years. Let’s answer theirs and show our gratitude.

Please go fund them and donate as generously as you possibly can:
Alternatively, you can choose to transfer donations directly into Noah’s Ark bank account:
CIMB Account Number: 80-0488594-1 Persatuan Penyelamat Haiwan Terbiar Bahtera Noah Ipoh Perak.


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