The movement has taken off with collaborations from NGOs, pet shops and individuals alike
by LYDIA NATHAN / Pic courtesy of Voice for Paws
DURING the Covid-19 crisis, there have been many news reports and stories about people in distress, but it has not occurred to most of us that animals are also victims of circumstances.
Many Malaysians adopted pets when they were confined to their homes due to the initial Movement Control Order (MCO), to keep them company and entertained.
However, these pets were abandoned later either as owners had to return to their workplaces or financial strains.
Hence, the red flag movement was initiated for the often forgotten inhabitants of Mother Earth — pets and stray animals — and has taken off with collaborations from NGOs, pet shops and individuals alike, all with the same goal.
Inspired by the white flag movement that saw people in need asking for help across Malaysia, the red flag movement was launched by the Malaysia Animal Association on June 30, aimed to assist pet owners and community feeders in need and without jobs.
Its president Arie Dwi Andika launched the movement over Instagram, saying pets are family, hence it is disheartening to see so many pets on the street, trying to survive without any survival skills, often resulting in horrible injuries or even death.
“We want to call on the community to play a role in helping each other out, especially those that have pets but cannot afford to feed them. “Ask your friends and neighbours if they need food for pets, tell them there is no shame in asking for help,” he said.
Five days after the launch, he had received 1,800 requests for assistance for pet food and supplies over multiple platforms, including Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram.
“We have been overwhelmed by requests and unfortunately have not been able to fulfil every single plea due to our own financial constraints, a limited supply of food and unavailability of funding for courier services and postage.
“We really hope the community steps in and lends a helping hand to friends and neighbours in need,” he said.
Naturally, pet shops and stations began stepping up, offering pet food and supplies where possible with guarantees that applicants’ personal information would be kept confidential.
One of them is J Jay Pet Station, a pet shop located in Kota Damansara that sells supplies for cats, rabbits and small mammals, as well as provides grooming services.
The shop launched its own initiative after receiving requests for food supplies and said it will hopefully be able to fulfil all the requests in time.
“We received a few requests in terms of pet food, hay, cat sand and others. Please do not be shy to ask for help as identities will be kept confidential.
“If you would like to contribute to this movement, please get in touch with us,” the shop said in a Facebook post.
Another store, Wet Nose Pet Shop located in Damansara Perdana urges pet owners to not abandon pets, rather reach out for help.
In aid of the red flag movement, the store will be donating free food to owners who are facing difficulties in feeding their pets.
“A food bank has been set up outside our premises for troubled pet owners in our vicinity. Please do not feel ashamed.
“All we ask is that our contribution is not wasted. Remember that pets are family and they love us unconditionally,” it said on Facebook.
Meanwhile, NGO Voice for Paws launched an initiative to help community feeders that care for strays during these troubled times.
Its secretary Sabrina Vijayaindran said it is heartwarming to see the launch of the red flag movement and has wanted to help the many feeders who never stop caring for the strays in the country despite having little to give.
“We actually launched an initiative last year, where we requested donations, especially during the mega sales period on e-commerce platforms like Lazada and Shopee.
“We requested rice bags, canned food for cats and dogs, kibbles, pee pads and medication like maggot spray and flea prevention using our social media. It was a successful effort when we could help many,” she said.
Sabrina added that this year, the NGO began drafting out another plan to help keep feeders on their feet with not only food supplies for strays, but for their families as well two days before the lockdown was implemented.
“We know many feeders have families of their own, and yet have the heart to help strays. Not many would do that, and we wanted to assist them in any way we could.
“Since last week, we have donated necessities like rice, milk powder, eggs, biscuits and toiletries to about 11 families.
“This is an effort Voice for Paws will continue to carry out for the rest of the month, or as long as needed. We have been blessed as an NGO and we want to bless others,” Sabrina said.