PUCHONG, MALAYSIA - Laying on her back with legs curled, Snowy, a one-year-old white mixed-breed dog, enjoys a nice rub down. Sisters Santhia and Kaushalya Chandra, ages 26 and 23, pet her belly, neck and head.
“I want to give her my all, my heart, my passion my love, my caring.” says Kaushalya Chandra. The sisters treat Snowy’s playmate, a 10-year old poodle named Angel the same way. “They get along so well with each other,” Kaushalya Chandra says.
But Snowy has not always been surrounded by such a loving family. Local pet rescue and adoption group Voice For Paws found her on a palm oil plantation after she was abandoned by a prior owner. The Chandra’s adopted Snowy in April after seeing her photos on the Voice For Paws Instagram page.
“When we saw Snowy it was like there’s a spark there,” says Kaushalya Chandra.”Like ok we need to take this dog so we just take the dog.”
While abandoned animals are a long-running issue, pet advocacy groups in Malaysia say the number in this country has increased significantly since the current economic downturn started because of the pandemic.
Voice For Paws says since late-March it has seen about a 60-percent increase in the number of dogs it gets asked to rescue compared to usual. Many of them are abandoned by bridges, train stations, bus stops or just left on the side of the road. “We’ve had heaps of requests from Instagram, from Facebook, people texting, people calling us” said Lydia Nathan of Voice For Paws. “Asking us to help out by rescuing these dogs.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says based upon the information currently available, the risks of a pet spreading Covid-19 to a person is low.
While it’s nearly impossible to know the backstory of each animal, advocates say the likely reasons why so many owners have been abandoning their pets during the past several months include fears about Covid-19 and financial issues.
“People lost their jobs, they did not have the funds to actually look after their dogs to feed their dogs at home. “ Nathan says. “It’s really disheartening and really sad to see so many dogs being abandoned these days.”
Voice For Paws holds adoption drives in Malaysia’s biggest city: Kuala Lumpur. The pets are put on display so people can play with them to see if they feel a connection. Dogs at a recent drive included Bambi, a one-year-old white mixed-breed. Several people stopped by to pet her and Bambi was very playful. Another one was a six-month old German shepherd mix named Bob who was trapped inside a four foot deep drain for several days before being rescued and has since been adopted.
Nathan says if a dog Voice For Paws gets called to rescue is at least six-months old and is friendly towards people than it likely was someone’s pet in the past and has not spent his or her entire life on the streets.
Before Voice For Paws puts the pets up for adoption it makes sure they get a health checkup, vaccinations, necessary medical care and are spayed or neutered. Adoption is free.
“We just want to find them homes,” Nathan said. “Homes that people will care for them, will love them, will treat them right.”
That’s the way Snowy lives now. When the Chandra’s play with her she loves to get close and lick their faces. “Snowy is bringing a lot of love to the family,” Kaushalya Chandra said. “Snowy and my family we are getting along so much. We have strong bond connection between us.”