KUALA LUMPUR: With the number of homeless and abandoned animals on the rise year after year, one organisation is staying true to its name by looking after the strays in its community.
On a mission to help street dogs, Canine Cares stands firm in its belief that sterilisation, basic veterinary care, and rehoming are the way to go to address the issue of stray overpopulation.
What makes Canine Cares stand out from other animal rescue groups, then? Its puppy school, where they teach young pooches – and their humans – basic socialisation and other skills.
Canine Cares founder Diong Chae Lian said she and her husband started the school as they didn’t want new owners to give up on their dogs just because they didn’t have the skills to manage them.
As she chatted with FMT Lifestyle, two of Diong’s dogs cuddled up to her side, not wanting to be left out. “These are Jack and Sophie, both fosters I’d planned to rehome. But in the process of nursing them back to health, we got attached and couldn’t part with them after.”
Asked how she got into rescue work, Diong recalled it began in the early 2000s when one of her neighbours got a new puppy. Owing to the demands of their job, Diong ended up dog-sitting a lot and eventually took the puppy in.
The little one was eventually rehomed when the neighbour moved away, “and that was the start of it”, Diong said.
As she continued with rescue work, Diong began to discover it was an uphill task, given the unending stream of abandoned animals.
She and her husband were then inspired by American veterinarian and animal behaviourist Ian Dunbar, who advocated that if people were taught how to handle dogs from the puppy stage, they were more likely to love them even as they outgrew the cute phase into adulthood.
Calling it a “moment of revelation”, they started their puppy school – aptly named Puppy School – in 2010, held at Jaya One in Section 13, Petaling Jaya, to this day.
“We want to help people stay in love with their dogs,” she said, adding that some owners had come in not even knowing how to hold their puppies.
“This is why it’s vital to teach new pet owners basic skills, as well as give the dogs obedience and etiquette lessons.”
Canine Cares also runs a K-9 cab service, which provides ground transportation for furkids who need a lift to daycare, boarding, grooming, or veterinary appointments.
“During the pandemic, many pet owners couldn’t send their furkids to the clinic to get their vaccinations, so we offered help in that regard, too,” Diong explained.
The organisation further runs an initiative called SNIP – the Seputeh Neutering Initiative Project – aimed at sterilising stray dogs in neighbourhoods through the trap-neuter-release approach.
Ultimately, Diong believes the issue of strays and animal overpopulation will require the implementing and finetuning of legislation, in which municipal councils have a role to play.
For example, “the by-laws in regulating petshop licences could be stricter, because when cute animals are put in shop windows, people are tempted to buy them, and the chances of them being abandoned later rise, too”, she said.
“It’s a sad thing to see.”