November 22, 2014

With the Selangor MB allowing PAWS to stay put temporarily, the future looks bright that an alternative site will be found soon.  It is quite common to hear PAWS described as that “run down shed by the highway” or to have people drive right past without even registering its presence, shadowed as it is by high-rise apartments and other spanking new structures to the right and left.

A sad cluster of sheds it may be, but PAWS has stood its ground from 1987 when it was first set up to be a home to countless abused, abandoned, and injured cats and dogs in the vicinity of Petaling Jaya. It takes more than willing hands to work at the shelter – it takes a big heart. To those who tear-up too easily at the sight of an injured kitten, or who fall to pieces at stories of how old, sick or naughty dogs are given up for younger, healthier or better behaved ones, PAWS becomes more than just a cluster of pens with animals in it. It becomes a place where people discover their true worth – their frailties, their strength, their perseverance and their will to right some wrongs, even if it means doing simple tasks like bathing a dog, playing with the cats or helping with data entry at the office. To the Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) and Shah Alam Municipal Council (MBSA), PAWS has been the final destination for strays rounded-up from neighbourhoods and streets on a daily basis. Once brought to the shelter, strays stand the chance of getting re-homed, injured ones are nursed back to life, mummies with litters are isolated and yes, the very sick or injured, euthanised. However first impressions may not be so impressive. A walk along its many cages and corridors will reveal that life can be downright depressing here. There is often over-crowding when the influx of animals exceeds that of those leaving the compound to begin new lives with new families. There are dominant animals, strutting around and bullying the more subservient ones especially during meal times. There are the occasional touch-me-not cats who swat even the most innocent friends who walk past. There are the lonely, desperate ones, timid from too much abuse or the sad and confused ones whose owners, for various reasons, have chosen to surrender them. However if you are one who chooses to see the glass as half full instead of half empty, you would see PAWS as a second chance. For the abused, there’s the prospect of rehabilitation. For the sick, the prospect of full recovery. For the spirited, a chance to throw that boundless energy into learning tricks and simple commands like sit, stay, walk or shake hands. Every PAWS animal gets medical attention – that means regular health checks, vaccinations and a neutering or spaying so population control is guaranteed. There is also the chance at human socialisation so animals that are re-homed are familiar with how to interact correctly with their new families. Students and the general public who volunteer on a regular basis at the shelter are encouraged to spend time in the cattery, groom the dogs, walk them or simply shower them with hugs and kisses, whichever takes their fancy. The full-time employees at PAWS work tirelessly to keep the operation respectable. There are accounts to balance, media and publicity to manage, fund raising, expenses to juggle and the welfare of the animals to consider. Overriding these issues is one that has plagued the shelter for years – that of land. A sticky issue that has got PAWS in hot soup on more than one occasion, the issue of land is a thorny one that saw PAWS almost get evicted recently. To all who work and volunteer at PAWS, the gratitude towards Selangor Menteri Besar Azmin Ali for suspending the eviction is enormous. His further instruction that the Petaling Jaya District Office and Sime Darby assist PAWS to secure an alternative parcel of land, is yet another reason to grin like a Cheshire cat. Needless to say the road ahead is bound to be long and bumpy. Land is scarce in Klang Valley and the price tag will be staggering. However with the MB, land office and a prestigious developer on our side, the future of PAWS is looking less and less bleak every day. I, for one, speak from experience. As a two-month-old pup brought into PAWS three years ago, I was fortunate to have a kind couple agree to foster me for three weeks. With my puppy charm turned on full blast, they caved in and adopted me instead just three days later. They also nursed me back to health when I developed kennel cough and pumped me up with good food, lots of love and long, happy walks around the neighbourhood every day. That’s me in the photo, a look of unbridled happiness on my face, for I have found my forever home with humans who love me as much as I love them. If it hadn’t been for PAWS taking me in, that couple would not have paused by my cage and picked me up. Instead, I’d have been a malnourished, sickly stray roaming the streets in search of food. I’d probably have had two litters by now as well. I am happy to have had PAWS as my home, if only for a short while. And my other feline and canine friends share that same sentiment, although many will grow old there, making PAWS their permanent home. And today, with so many people, including the MB working to secure the future of my friends on another site, I can safely say that things are looking pretty darn good