Monday, October 22, 2012

The Sarawak SPCA is 50!

The SSPCA began its work in Kuching in 1959, formed by a small group of expatriate officers who were moved by the sight of the diseased dogs and sick animals that roamed the streets. It was legally registered under the Registrar of Societies as the “Kuching Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (KSPCA) on 11 September 1962.
In the years following, with the departure of many of its early members, the Society became inactive but was never de-registered. In September 1975, a group of expatriates and Kuching residents came together to revive the KSPCA. Their first meeting was held on the 10th of October at "Eversleigh", the residence of the then British Council Representative Mr Philips Williams.

Others who were involved in the committee at that time were Dr Hsiung Kwo Yuen, Mrs Elizabeth Kok, Mr Chua Siang Cheng, Mdm Florence Foo, DSP Lim Tian Kim, Mr Andy Lo, Mr Ali Adenan and Miss Celine Foo.

In 1977, the Society’s legal counsel, the late Mr Sahathevan revised the constitution to better reflect its rules and regulations. The amendments included a change of name – it became the Sarawak Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, or SSPCA.

In the years that followed, this group of dedicated volunteers and their very active cadre of Junior Members, organized awareness - raising events, rescued and re-homed stray animals, initiated a pilot neutering scheme, and organized fundraising events.

They were also instrumental in reaching an agreement with the local councils in Kuching to house and care for all the stray animals picked up by these councils. It’s an agreement which has carried through to this day, and remains the only such arrangement between an animal welfare organization and local councils in Malaysia.

Perhaps their most notable achievement was securing tax-deductible status for the Society. This has proved an invaluable asset to the Society in its fundraising efforts.
In 1999, through the generosity of the Sarawak State Government, the SSPCA secured a 0.6-acre piece of land at 61/2 mile Penrissen Road, Kuching on which to build its animal shelter.

In the years since, this little piece of land has served as a refuge, a haven for thousands of stray, abused and abandoned animals. Some have been fortunate enough to be given a second chance at life, others have lived out their days in the loving care of our shelter staff, and many have gone on to the ‘Great Kennel in the Sky’.

As their finances improved, they expanded and improved the Shelter facilities and services to cater for the ever-increasing number of animals brought to their door. Unfortunately, this also meant having to make sacrifices and utilizing the exercise/play areas.

As with all NGOs, committees came and committees went, but the good work continued. Here is a short list of their achievements:

·         They ran joint neutering campaigns with the local councils in an effort to curb the expanding stray population.

·         They walked hundreds of visitors through their Shelter to educate them about the need to be more responsible citizens and pet owners.

·         They organized countless off-site adoption campaigns to increase the chances of their animals finding new homes.

·         They responded to the many reports about animal abuse cases.

·         They invested in the first animal crematorium in Malaysia, so that they could dispose of animal carcasses in a safe and hygienic manner.       

·         They climbed up trees and down drains to rescue trapped animals in the dead of night.

·         They braved the flood waters at midnight to take their shelter animals to safety.

·         They penned millions of words in an effort to raise awareness about Animal Welfare and to fight for Animal Rights.

·         And through it all, they enjoyed the support of animal lovers in Kuching and around the world, through donations of food, equipment and other essentials, as well as much needed funds that allowed them to keep their shelter doors open.

The SSPCA at 50

When the Animal Shelter was built in 1999, it was surrounded by lush green undergrowth, set well away from housing and commercial areas. 13 years on, Kuching has well and truly arrived at their doorstep. Nothing says, “It’s time to move the animals” better than having a ‘Pizza Hut’ as your neighbor!

The Shelter had a very unfortunate incident when they experienced major flooding due to a whole day of heavy rain on Jan 11, 2011.Countless rescued animals were trapped throughout the ordeal. The lucky ones were able to climb to higher ground while the smaller and weaker ones struggled to keep from drowning. SSPCA committee members and volunteers rushed to the place in the middle of the night to save lives. It was indeed a sad sight. Staff and volunteers carried out a cleaning up event nonetheless. The tragedy strengthened many hearts, including those of the animals.

In 2012, SSPCA assisted in the first successful prosecution of animal abuse in Sarawak, something for all of us to take pride and learn from. Even so, all citizens are encouraged to not just stop there as we know all four-legged creatures deserve to have equal rights to live. They are no different from humans in a lot of ways.

Their biggest birthday wish is to secure a new and larger piece of land, away from development, on which to build a state-of-the-art Animal Shelter that can continue to serve the needs of the animals and people of Kuching for the next 50 years, and beyond.

That’s why they are channeling all their efforts this year to secure that piece of paradise and to raise funds to build and equip their new shelter. This is where you, the good people of Malaysia and beyond come in. They need you to turn out in huge numbers for the events that they have lined-up in this year and 2013, and to dig deep into your generous hearts (and pockets!) to help them raise the RM 1.5 million they need.

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