We appeal for your understanding and cooperation – we have our limitations too

Last weekend I was swarmed with calls, some of which involved the rescue of animals. Coincidentally last weekend I also had many other things to do which involved my other role as a public speaker.   

Many people do not realise that AnimalCare does NOT provide rescue services. We do not have the expertise nor skills to do such work.  It is stated clearly in our policies but granted, some people do not find out just what is it that we do. Just because we are an animal welfare NPO, people expect us to do everything under the sun when it concerns animals.   

AnimalCare is a MEDICAL FUND. We work WITH rescuers AFTER the (stray) animal has been picked up and should medical treatment be required, that is where we help by providing the funds. Besides this, we are also an educational source. That is about all we do and it is stated clearly in our policies.  

But why do I end up doing all the extras like publicising for adoption, for rescue, for fosterers, and sometimes, even for food donation? It is because people ask for help, and I’ll do everything that I humanly can with my very human limitations.  

But some people forget that I too have a life and that I too need to rest. This is not a paid job. It is voluntary. Even in paid jobs, there are such things called “off working hours”, “weekends”, “medical leave” and “annual leave” where our employers cannot demand for our service.  

So last weekend, I received an email and it was sent at midnight, asking me to go pick up a kitten from a drain somewhere in KL. The kitten was injured and had been crying for two nights. The caller did not want to pick it up. I told him (I am not sure if it’s a man or a woman) that we do not provide rescue services and advised him to pick up the kitten, keep it warm, offer it food and send it to the vet the next day and we will help with the medical costs and I will blog for fosterers. But no, he did not want to pick up the kitten. Then I said get a friend to help pick up the kitten. He said he had called the SPCA and based on his description of the kitten, the SPCA had informed him that the kitten would be put down. I then asked for a photograph so that I could blog for help. It is already in our policies that we will not post any request for help without a photograph and contact details of the rescuer. I deal with strangers all the time. The only proof that I can have that the case is genuine would be a photograph and the full name and contact details of the rescuer. 

The next morning, I checked my mailbox and there was no email or photograph from him. I went out in the morning at 9am because I had to facilitate a youth camp all day. When I returned at 4pm in the evening, I saw two emails from him. One had the photograph of the poor kitten in the drain, so I immediately blogged for help. The caller then replied and asked that I remove the post as it was already too late and also that it contained his personal details. Why couldn’t you have called me to check, he asked, the SPCA came at 2pm and you only responded at 4pm. He also later said he was irked by the fact that I said the least he could have done was to pick up the kitten.  

A stranger asks you to go pick up a kitten from the drain in KL at midnight and there is no photograph at all – would you do it?

We work with rescuers, not callers who expect us to do everything from picking up an animal, giving it medical treatment to getting the animal rehomed.  

I have a life, too. My life is not about sitting at my computer waiting for emails to come in. I have family, my animals to look after, I have to work for a living and I have other responsibilities as well. I respond when I can, which I believe, is often enough, for those who have requested help from us. Even if the request is not within our scope of service, I would still respond to redirect the person to another source, or at the very least, offer some suggestions on what could be done.  

Every day, my mailbox fills up with requests for help, I receive smses and calls asking for all kinds of help ranging from rescue, medical, rehoming, etc. Even while I am teaching, my phone rings because there would always be the odd person who does not know that I work for a living too. And in the first place, how on earth did my hp number get circulated around? Aha, this would be attributed to the fact that some people do not understand that it is not proper nor is it respectful to simply dish out other people’s handphone numbers without the person’s permission. The failure of our education system? I don’t know. 

Yet, I respond to the best of my ability, as humanly as I possibly can and to make it fair to all, we already have policies written very clearly on our website. If you need our help, could you please read our policies first and find out what scope of service we can provide? We are not an all-encompassing one-stop whatever-you-need-we-will-provide animal welfare NGO. We have our limitations too. Anything outside our scope, I will do the extra bit by blogging for help. Blogging is my only way of sourcing for help. Please understand it is also in our policies that your write-up or appeal will be published verbatim with your name and contact details. If you wish to hide behind a pseudonym or not reveal your contact details, then how would people know that you are a real person and how would people contact you to offer help? I don’t want to be accused of “calling wolf”, I’d lose all my credibility in no time if I publish false alarms. 

Please also understand that I have many cases to report each day, and I do not have the time to re-write your appeal for you. I have to publish it verbatim.  

If you write to me regarding an animal case but do not wish for it to be published, please indicate that clearly. 

Here are our policies:

When we buy an insurance policy, a house or take bank loan, it is OUR responsibility to read the terms and conditions. The same applies to people who request for our help. Could you please read our policies first?  

This incident above brings to mind something which happened about 3-4 years ago.  A self-claimed cat rescuer called me (while I was giving a public talk on a Sunday) to inform me that she saw two newborn kittens discarded in a box by the roadside during her morning jogging (in Subang Jaya). Then, please pick up the kittens, I said. No, I cannot, she said. And she kept calling me non-stop but I was giving a public talk – she didn’t care. She went round to check on the kittens and informed me that they look like they were dying. Then came the classic emotional blackmailing statement, ie. if-you-dont-pick-up-they-will-die (this is said so that HER problem now becomes MY problem). Then YOU pick them up first, I said (I was in Klang, not Subang Jaya). No, she would not do it. By the time I finished my talk and reached the location, the kittens had been under the hot sun for 4 hours, and were not moving anymore. There were just a few grains of rice scattered inside the box and they had hardened. The kittens were newborns (eyes still closed) and they were totally dehydrated. I took them home, nursed them back to health and got them adopted later. That cat rescuer never helped in any way, not in enquiring about the kittens nor getting them rehomed. Now, she asks for help from our funds.  

And of course there are also other stories, but I wouldn’t want to mar your Monday morning. It’s bad enough that we have to go to work (!) and it is also now raining here in Subang Jaya. Don’t let me spoil your day any further. 

But wait, this is an educational portal, so I have to talk about this other issue of asking for phone numbers of vets and rescuers. Some people are in dire straits and they call to ask for the phone number of so-and-so. I am surprised that many people do not know that it is not proper to simply dish out other people’s phone numbers without their permission. There is this thing called “respect” and “privacy”. You can call the police station and the fire brigade, but the police officer or the fire-fighter will not give you his private handphone number unless you are his buddy. You can call the hospital and ask to make an appointment to see the doctor, but the doctor will not give out his private hp nor the hps of his colleagues. A psychiatrist I know says he does not even reveal his hp to any of his clients even when it is a known fact that mentally ill patients have a tendency to kill themselves when they are in dire straits.That being the case, why do animal NGO workers have to reveal their hp to anyone? I may have the hps of some vets or some rescuers who are my friends, but this does not mean I can simply dish out their hp numbers to all and sundry. Some of these friends have even specifically told me NOT to dish out their numbers and I need to respect that. So the only thing I can do is to give the person’s hp to the vets or my rescuer-friends and it would be up to THEM if they wish to respond. It is totally their prerogative, not the person who is asking for help. Please respect people’s privacy. And please do not make demands. I don’t think it is in our position to make demands when we are the one asking for help.  

So, if you want to ask me for any hp number, please know that I have to ask permission from the other party first, and if that other party says “no”, I cannot reveal, but I will give YOUR hp (with your permission) to that other party to contact you if he/she wishes to.  I will also explain your problem to them. This is as much as I can do for you.  

There are proper ways of contacting an organisation for help. If the organisation has an office number, by all means, call the office. If it doesn’t, then check out the proper way to contact that organisation or person and do just that. And please do not expect immediate response UNLESS that organisation or person provides 24-hour service. I do not know of any animal welfare organisation in Malaysia that claims to provide 24-hour service.  What more, individuals who do voluntary work. Please understand that we have a life, too.  

And please, rules and policies are there to ensure the smooth running of any organisation. They are meant to be respected and adhered to, not broken as and when the occasion fits us. They also delineate the scope of service that an organisation can offer and provide. Please respect them. And if you are not happy, please go to a better organisation that can provide what you need. Sarcasm, scoldings and unpleasant exchanges are not necessary. Neither are they helpful.

So, it’s been an upsetting weekend and to unwind, I had a chat with a friend who runs a shelter. Yes, it helps to talk our problems out with friends who empathise and who have been-there-and-done-that.

Well, he tells me that in the course of running a shelter, he deals with unreasonable people and unreasonable scoldings EVERY DAY. He then told me the story of what happened recently at the shelter. I’m not at liberty to reveal the details of that story, but suffice to say I’m appalled at how unreasonably demanding some people can be, and what I’m dealing with is nothing compared with what he has to deal with every single day

For that, I suppose I should be thankful enough.

And I take my hat off to those who strive on, day after day, dealing with unreasonable demands, scoldings and sarcastic comments. We go on, because of the animals, definitely not the humans!

Now, you have a nice day today.







10 responses to “We appeal for your understanding and cooperation – we have our limitations too”

  1. Anonymous

    Dr Chan,

    I empathise with what you have to deal with. You are already doing so much to help the stray cats and dogs and I know it isn't easy to deal with obnoxious human beings.

    It is indeed a shame that some people can conveniently pass the buck to somebody else. They are merely taking the easy way out because they know you have a soft spot for animals. I have been following your blog for quite a while and it is amazing how patient you have been in dealing with such obnoxious rescuers who are always so demanding and selfish.

    You need to take care of your own well being as well, Dr Chan. You are a care giver to many stray cats and dogs.

    You have my utmost respect Dr Chan.

  2. your action was correct dr…dunt worry be happy…cheers!

  3. Huey


    When I worked as a salesperson, I didn't even give my customers my mobile number. Only email. I don't enjoy answering phone calls on my off days.

    This mentality of expecting a 'one-stop' animal welfare NGO really needs to be looked into seriously. I once got scolded as a 'pretender' because I was 2-3 days slow in responding to some questions on 'how to stop dogs from fighting', and not because I purposely delayed, but because I didn't get the initial email (not sure where that email went to) but only the second scolding one. And btw, I wasn't even representing a dog behaviour group. :/

    I believe all animal welfare NGOs needs is a little bit of understanding. We are human too. And unlike big corporations that are meant to generate profits, we can't run 24-hour (or even 12-hour!) on-call 'customer service' or 'emergency service'. Well, unless people who expect these services are willing to pay so I can earn a living from this and quit my day job? 🙂

    P/S: By the way, picking up a kitten from a drain isn't really that difficult. When I was a kid (like, 8-9 years old), I did that all the time, from different drains at my old house, my grandma's place, etc., sometimes even without help from the adults.

  4. Ruth

    Hi Dr Chan, I empathize with you. What I can't stand is when people start making subtle threats. I don't know whether you have come across people who tell you to your face (or over the phone) that they'll throw the animal away or leave it somewhere if you don't take it. They think that just because we deal with animals, we're at their beck and call. These people want to do good deeds but do not want to lift a finger to do anything. They want to carry on with their cushy lives. They just want to be armchair rescuers. Many are not even willing to give a single sen for the animal.

    I've met some who said that people dump to us because we like animals. My usual reply to them is I like $$$, so why don't they dump that, huh?

    Like the one who called you about the kitten, I don't think it's the picking up from the drain part, I think it's the after that that is a problem to this person. He/She would be saddled with the kitten then, and definitely it's a no-no to this person. Very upsetting to this person's life but it's ok to upset other people's.

  5. Erica

    Sometimes we just wanna help out of a favour but they are people who take us for granted. They think the earth turn by their will!
    I support you, we go on for the animals, definitely not the human. These people can speak out lound but when ask them to do, all kind of reasons & thinkng only they have a life to live on but we don't. You have a nice day too, God bless! I have to get ready to bring my Sunshine to the vet. Cheers to all the animals!

  6. Susleen

    I feel for you Dr. Chan. People need to realise animal rescuers are no servant to any human. If one wants to do good then get done on the ground and do it yourself, pointing fingers for others to do it is just not right. Like you I have also been situation like this people calling up at wee hours asking for help for kitten they found and they seem helpless when actually they are truly not helpless at all. There is something they can do from their end but they just prefer to wash hands, I'm very careful who I deal with these days when it comes to people like this and I'm often out spoken and tell them off. We can only educate and advise. However is everyone's duty to go on the ground and help these animals.

  7. Joy E. Saga

    Hi Dr. Chan,

    I've been following your blog very closely. An animal lover myself I collect strays, adopt them and feed community cats and dog. You have by BIGGEST HUGS for the work that you do.

    Ignore those morons! What goes around comes around. One day he/she falls into a large drain and cannot come out. Passers by just look but not help – calls 999 for help and wait for help to come. When all that was needed was the person to stick his hand out and all will be fine.

    If the kitten died, its death will be on his/her hands!

    Keep up your good work Doctor! We all support you!

    XX Joy XX

  8. Catherina

    It is easier to work with the animals then with the HUMANS sometimes. HUMANS have the intelligent but refused to put it in proper use.

  9. Anonymous

    This is the same shit that people's representatives face too. Regardless of the fact that there are civil servants who are paid to do the job, MPs, state assembly reps and even local councilors are expected to be at the beck and call of the people when it comes to longkang sumbat kind of problems. It just goes to show how much of our taxes are being wasted on an inefficient and unprofessional government. For each NGO or civil society volunteer group out there, it means the government is not doing its role.

    – siew eng

  10. mettateoh

    Dear Dr Chan,
    I really admire you and the work you have done …..I dont really know how you can manage to do so much. You take care of dogs,humans (your family)give talks and participate in so many activities.You are such a caring person. I hope you dont let some unappreciative people get you down. Keep up with the good work. Thanks.

Discover more from AnimalCare

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading