We leave no furkid behind!

The recent flood due to the monsoon has caused an uncountable number of animals to go missing or dead

By LYDIA NATHAN

THE recent flood due to the torrential monsoon season across the country has brought about catastrophic impacts on people’s lives.

Thousands around the country had lost their livelihood, homes, vehicles, livestock and not to mention, pets.

Rescue efforts have seen more than 50,000 individuals evacuated so far. However, an uncountable number of animals are also missing, or worst still, dead.

Borneo Animal Welfare Society Sabah (BAWSS) secretary Tracy Hilda Dukim said it had been raining every day before the actual flood hit on Jan 16, 2021.

“It just so happened that that night was also high tide and with blockages in many parts of the river channel, which led to major flooding in almost every part of Sabah.

“The waters only started receding on Tuesday as it rained continuously for the next few days,” she told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR) in a telephone interview recently.

She said as the weather got worse, fellow rescue group Shelter of Hope (SOH) asked for assistance in evacuating some of its shelter animals.

“There were about 60 dogs in the shelter and only a small raised platform for them to jump onto, which was not enough for all to escape. Usually, cats and dogs are able to save themselves provided they are not chained or caged.

“On Saturday night, the founder of SOH asked us for help to transport 10 dogs to free some room on the platform, but unfortunately, the road heading into the shelter wasn’t accessible by a regular vehicle as the waters were waist-deep,” she said.

As the team began to prepare to wade through the waters, the Penampang Four-Wheel Drive (4WD) Club came to their rescue, ferrying the team in and helping them rescue 15 dogs that night, which were then moved immediately to fosterers.

Dukim said cleaning up the shelter was the next step as the teams worked tirelessly together. She has high hopes that people will visit and adopt some of the rescued animals.

“BAWSS does not have its own shelter. We are foster-based, and we make cattery in our own houses to house our rescued cats. “We have five members in the team and all work full time, so we do this on the side because of our shared love for the animals. Some members have 20 cats, and I have 44 myself,” she said.

SOH founder Adrienne Godfrey Johniu said the shelter had been operating for 15 years now, and currently has 53 dogs and 71 cats.

“When the flood hit, the shelter was in the water for two whole days, before finally receding on Jan 18, 2021.

“Flooding is a norm, but we never know just how bad it can get, and that is the most nerve-wracking part. We always need to be prepared for it, and even the dogs and cats can sense it now and will look for higher ground when the rains come,” she said.

Johniu said she was forced to ask for help as she had injured her leg while moving the dogs to a higher platform.

“I stepped on something sharp, causing a big wound which didn’t allow me to wade through the waters.

“So, I reached out to BAWSS and International Aid for the Protection and Welfare of Animals Borneo for help. Also to 4WD Penampang. I am so grateful for all the help,” she said.

Johniu said the shelter is always in need of wet and dry food for both cats and dogs, as well as cat litter.

“Another project we plan on doing is building a higher platform in the shelter, this has been estimated to cost about RM20,000.

“As each year brings worse floods, this project is crucial and will be our main focus this year. We do hope we receive the donations needed,” she said.

Meanwhile, another NGO that often works together with SOH is HElping Animals Rescue Team (HEART), founded by Dr Roslee Abbas in 2012.

Roslee told TMR that HEART was made up of about a few friends who got together with not much experience or financial backing, but chose to focus on the plight and protection of strays in Kota Kinabalu.

“That is how we got started. We are full of enthusiasm and want to change the world for homeless cats and dogs.

“It was not easy at first, we were viewed as crazy, feeding homeless strays in back alleys and at garbage bins. But we went ahead and became a non-profit organisation that helps save the lives of the stray, abused and abandoned animals,” he said.

Roslee said HEART does not have a shelter, but works in tandem with BAWSS and Animal Lover Independent Rescue, and when the floods hit, his team responded with an urgency to lend a hand.

“Our main rescue effort was to save disabled dogs from a shelter. We had to brave the murky contaminated floodwaters and it was pitch dark. There was one blind dog and one paralysed dog, we rescued both and took them back to my garage.

“The waters receded on Jan 19, 2021, and we are currently planning to help SOH to rebuild the higher platform.

“Shelters always have a need, so we can continue helping the homeless out there. For our own organisation, we accept monetary donations, food and pellets for our rescues,” he added.