Sunday, December 28, 2008

A Desperate Plea For Help

Some two weeks ago we received a call from a social worker requesting help with an animal issue. A single elderly lady, 74 yrs of age, under their care, had some animals in her one-room rental apartment and could no longer care for them. She had fallen sick, was hospitalized and lost her job washing dishes in a coffee shop during her long stay in hospital. The social worker had initially called SPCA for help and was told by SPCA to call HDB. Instead she went online and called Noah’s Ark for help.

Our volunteer went to the elderly lady’s home to pay a visit. Mdm Oon had initially told the social worker she had nine cats and one dog in her home. When our volunteer visited the home with the social worker, she was both saddened and taken aback by what she saw. Mdm Oon lived in extreme poverty and filth. The stench from her home could be smelled the instant the lift door opened on her level. She only had one bedroom, and that door was closed during our visit. The cats they saw were all underweight, malnourished, had little fur on their bodies and some only had a few teeth in their mouth. Her two year old dog, Julie, a mongrel, had never ever had a bath in her life, not since she was brought home by Mdm Oon when she was less than two months old.

Our volunteer left the home with a heavy heart and discussed with the social worker to understand a little more of the situation. Noah’s Ark agreed to help remove the nine cats and one dog from Mdm Oon’s home. Much as she loved them, she had lost her job and no longer had the means to care for herself, let alone her pets.

The following Saturday three volunteers from Noah’s Ark arrived in a huge van, with 7 pet carriers of various sizes, prepared to rescue the nine cats and one dog. We were accompanied by the social worker.

Behind one of these doors, there was a sad story to be told.

Nothing prepared the volunteers for the sight, the stench and the sadness that greeted them behind this door. Mdm Oon’s home was barren, save for a small table fan, some cages and a table. Mdm Oon’s bed was an old table. There was cat pee all over floor of the entire house as she could not afford cat litter. Her dog had also peed and pooh-ed on the floor and one volunteer even spotted maggots creeping on the floor.

Mdm Oon's makeshift "bed"

Maggot on the floor

The first to be taken away was Julie, her mongrel. Julie initially put up a struggle but eventually relented and went into the carrier. Mdm Oon had to be the one catching the cats as only she was familiar with them.

Julie was extremely wary of strangers as she had never had anyone else other than Mdm Oon and had never left home.

Mdm Oon was bitten by one of her cats while trying to catch them

After catching 5 cats, the social worker asked Mdm Oon to open her room door. To everyone’s shock and horror, there were more cats in the room! The room was barren except for two rusted table stands, minus the table tops. The sight of the cats brought tears to our eyes. The room was equally filthy and the cats were rather young, some mere kittens. One had deformed legs due to malnourishment and a few others just lay down and stared blankly at us, too weak and too surprised to even move or run. It was such a sorry sight.

Look at their faces, the cats were equally shocked when we opened the room door!

A deformed & malnourished cat

We had gone with the intention of removing Mdm Oon’s nine cats and one dog but now there were suddenly so many more! Twenty cats and one dog to be exact. It was impossible to take only our intended nine cats as those in the room were sickly and needed medical attention.

One cat that was volunteering to go into the carrier on its own

Armed with only 7 pet carriers, we slowly caught the cats, one at a time. Some carriers had 4 or 5 cats in them and we only managed 17 cats and Julie. We had no more space in our carriers and three were left behind. These final three were also not easy to trap.

Noah’s Ark volunteers, the social worker and Mdm Oon spent a total of more than two hours catching 17 cats and 1 dog and it was during this time that the social worker revealed a sadder story. During the time that Mdm Oon was hospitalized, she had entrusted her house key to another elderly lady, tasking her to feed the animals in her house. Instead of feeding the animals, this lady helped herself to whatever little things that Mdm Oon had in her home; an old kettle, an old rice cooker, the only 3 sets of clothes she had, and even her bus / MRT card.

We felt truly sorry for Mdm Oon and were also told that during her three weeks away from home, Julie had killed a cat, despite living with them since she was less than 2 mths old. We suspected that Julie was not fed during those three weeks and acted on her survival instinct and killed the cat for food. Mdm Oon had picked Julie up from a garbage bin when she was a mere puppy. Whilst she was working as a dish washer at the local coffee shop and out throwing rubbish, she had heard whimpering from inside the garbage bin.

Out of curiosity, she rummaged through the bin and found that someone had put five tiny puppies into a cardboard box, and thrown them into the garbage bin! The kind-hearted Mdm Oon then took out the puppies from the garbage and went around the coffee shop asking customers to take a puppy each. Four were taken up and it was then that she chose to bring Julie home.

Outside the vets with all Mdm Oon's pets

We took Mdm Oon to The Animal Doctor with us, in case we needed her help in handling the animals. To our surprise, despite what they had all gone through, her cats were all rather sweet and pleasant natured. Julie was extremely timid, having never left home in almost two years.

We spent four hours at the Vet and with the help of the Drs and assistants, all the animals were vaccinated, microchipped, and had their blood tests done. Their visit to the vet revealed the following;

- almost all the cats were malnourished, each under 2kg
- most had lost much of their fur and teeth, possibly caused by poor diet and under nourishment
- two cats had FIV/ Fel
- Julie was given a clean bill of health

Malnourished cat

Currently, Julie is with a fosterer and coping well, all the other cats are being boarded. We would like to appeal to the public to help in any way you can, such as to;

* sponsor a cat for sterilization > Male $25-30, Female $35-50
* sponsor Julie the dog for sterilization $120
* contribute to the vet bill in any amount possible
* adopt Julie and give her a loving home
* sponsor a cat to live in Noah’s Ark $150
* sponsor Julie to live in Noah’s Ark (transport + permit = $330)
* sponsor a cat’s one year (or more) boarding at Noah’s Ark ($35 per month, payable by GIRO)
* sponsor Julie’s boarding for one year (or more) at Noah’s Ark ($35 per month, payable by GIRO)

Most of the cats are shown below in the pictures the volunteer had taken:

A mere kitten, it was scrawny and had bald patches on its body due to loss of fur.

This cat still had a slight resemblance of how beautiful it could look but with lack of care and improper nutrition, it was a sorry looking sight.

This kitten was extremely underweight and malnourished to the extent that legs were deformed with the loss of fur and teeth, along with its bones protruding from body.

We’d like to assure everyone that all the animals rescued from Mdm Oon’s home are in safe and good hands but in order to do more, we need your help, kindness and generosity to help us send the animals to Noah’s Ark. Moreover, the social welfare will also be making weekly checks on Mdm Oon, ensuring that she no longer takes home any more pets.

In our line of volunteer work, we occasionally come across such cases where the person involved needs just as much help as the animals. In such situations, our volunteers do often dig deep into their pockets and contribute what little they can, in the hope that their contribution makes a difference in the life of the person involved. A little help certainly goes a long way.


Anonymous said...

I have been involved in a hoarder case, the pain to see these poor animal living in such state and health is more than words could comprehend... I hope aunty wont bring home more cats when she is feeling better.

Good job to all the volunteers.

Check out my blog entery under "super heroes" on the hoarder's case.

Anonymous said...

Hi there, I would be discussing with my sis on helping. I think I can sponsor a cat. But what happened to the remaining cats which were left behind? :( I hope they will have a chance to be rescued too...


Noah's Ark CRAES said...

"Thank you everyone for writing in. Should you wish to sponsor a cat or help out in any way, please send us an email at and thank you for your support in the work we do."

Anonymous said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


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