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Of Cream Crackers And A Little Dog Named Brownie

 


My very first dog was not even my own. I christened him Brownie, as I had no idea what his real name was. Every day I would walk by his house, and there Brownie was, hanging outside the gate of my neighbours house. As a child, I could already see that Brownie was not in the best of conditions as he was skinny and left unkempt and dirty. I started bringing him biscuits and it truly brought joy to my day as I watched him munch down the crackers greedily and then look at me with his gleaming black eyes full of anticipation for more the minute he was done. One day, I went to visit Brownie and he was nowhere to be found, leaving me with nothing else but fond memories.
 
As I grew older I got a dog of my own, but before that my mother had encouraged me to visit an animal shelter and truly experience intimate contact with animals. Walking into the shelter, I absorbed all the sights and sounds that filled my senses all at once. Barks, meows, tails banging against the cages, claws scratching against the fence, it was overwhelming but yet I did not feel intimidated. I participated in all the shelter duties and after that had a good play with some puppies and when I walked out of the shelter I could not have felt prouder of myself or more filled with happiness and love.
 
On one of the days I was volunteering at the shelter I witnessed a family surrendering their beautiful, adult, pure bred Dalmation to the shelter and the 12 year old in me could not hold myself back from asking them the ultimate question – Why? They answered We are moving to an apartment and so we cant keep her. So many more whys filled my mind after hearing their answer and when I looked into the glistening, sorrowful black eyes of this Dalmation who had no idea her family was leaving her behind, it truly broke my heart and brought me to tears.

These are merely the handful of the memories that have shaped the person I am today and they have become my anchor and motivation to continue fighting for the plight of animals even through the hard times. Over the years I continued to work with animal welfare organizations and through that have learned and experienced the ins and outs of animal welfare. Today I stand tall as a veterinary medicine student who not only understands the aspects of animal welfare from the NGOs point of view, but also from a theoretical, educational and practical point of view.
 
When I talk to people on the street about animal welfare, each and every one of them has a different opinion as to what animal welfare is truly about. Of course, I respect that everyone is entitled to their own opinions and I admit that it is indeed a subjective issue where the sensitive subject of finances can come into play. But, with every issue there are theories and principles that it should be based on. Some people think that caring for an animal encompasses purely providing it with food and water, but of course there are other basic aspects like shelter that need to be addressed.
 
Thus, as a guide for any welfare matters I face, I essentially refer to the basic concepts of animal welfare originally conceptualized by the Farm Animal Welfare Council in the year 1979. They are:
 

  1. Freedom from Hunger and Thirst
  2. Freedom from Discomfort
  3. Freedom from Pain, Injury and Disease
  4. Freedom to Express Normal Behavior
  5. Freedom from Fear and Distress


 
Another very important aspect of animal welfare that I personally try to advocate is education and awareness. The idiom Ignorance is bliss should never be a phrase used at any time when it comes to animal welfare. It is not bliss to go unawares about irresponsible breeding. It is not bliss to go unaware about cruelty to animals. It is not, in the slightest way, bliss, to turn a blind eye to the welfare of any animal just because one does not have the knowledge of how to handle the situation. Therefore, one needs to not only educate themselves, but educate others, so that this vicious cycle doesnt continue and we move forward as an entire community, united in promoting animal welfare, therefore proving ourselves to be a developed society.
 
I can only hope, that every person I reach understands the essence of what I write, and strives to improve not only the welfare of animals around them, but also spreads the word on matters that will eventually lead to the betterment of the welfare of animals not only here in Malaysia, but worldwide as well.



 

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Chengy

What can I say about myself? Happy, optimistic, and absolutely in love with animals big or small, I'm just a person with a big heart and open mind.

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