Mohan Div and Cathy Strong co-founded Animal Lovers League in 2002. They share the trials and triumphs of running a “no-kill” shelter through amazing stories of their furry charges.
On a weekday evening, I went to Sungei Tengah Road where the sound of dogs barking guided me to Animal Lovers League's (ALL) animal shelter. There, I met volunteers who visit almost every day after work, dedicated to ensuring the facility’s 500 animals are well taken care of. I also met ALL’s co-founders, Mohan Div and Cathy Strong.
"We met by chance! Mohan moved in as my next-door neighbour. It is coincidental that we had already been rescuing animals in our own capacity," says Cathy. Mohan is a trained military medic, whereas Cathy practices alternative medicine. Their expertise has encouraged them to stay true to Animal Lovers League’s no-kill policy, which means no animal will ever be put down regardless of circumstance.
"To me, nothing is hopeless until every effort and resource has been used to give these animals a second chance at life," explains Cathy. Faith and persistence play a key role. Through Cathy's use of alternative medicine, she has successfully helped seven puppies recover from parvovirus (a contagious virus that affects dogs). These are only a few of the many animals ALL has given a second chance at life.
Here are some of Mohan's most touching and miraculous stories from the animal shelter.
Teddy: A fortnight to win over this misunderstood kitty
Teddy was found as a kitty at East Coast Park, where he had suffered a terrible head injury after being bludgeoned by a man. Volunteers from the Cat Welfare Society sent him to the hospital for treatment, and later, placed Teddy at a pet store for a few months. However, the traumatised feline was very defensive. "He scowled and fought whatever came his way," recalls Mohan, who was eventually contacted by Cat Welfare Society volunteers to take care of Teddy. At Animal Lovers League’s shelter, Mohan patiently trained and bonded with the misunderstood cat. Night after night, Teddy would snarl, hiss and scratch Mohan but he persisted. After two weeks, Teddy gave in and succumbed to Mohan's touch. He is now the only one whom Teddy trusts.
G.I.: The almost-blind dog who made a miraculous recovery
When G.I. was found in Pulau Ubin around 12 years ago, she had a big wound on her face caused by a maggot infestation of her eye. Her prospects were dim; the vet believed that G.I. would not recover from her wound and recommended her to be euthanized. However, Mohan convinced the doctor to take out the maggots, and meticulously treated the dog's facial wound - even conducting an operation by himself - for the next two months! G.I's face has since completely healed. "The doctor was stunned when I brought G.I. to him again. Sometimes all you need is faith!" Mohan reflects.
Xiaohei: The two-legged dog that bounced back
Xiaohei is another one of ALL’s miracle stories. In a fateful accident, the Singapore Special was knocked down by a car. When he got up, he was hit again. This rendered his back legs immobile. For a while, the poor pooch had to prop himself up with just his two front legs. Mohan brought the dog to an orthopedic surgeon who believed that Xiaohei's paralysis was irreversible. An animal group that helped care for injured and disabled dogs even suggested that Xiaohei might need a wheelchair. However, thanks to regular massages from ALL’s volunteers, Xiaohei’s condition improved. About two months after, he started stretching his back leg and could gradually stand on all fours! Now he not only walks but also happily runs and plays outdoors!
Jasper: A chance for a second home
Jasper belonged to an expatriate couple who had to depart Singapore after the husband was retrenched. Jasper was one of their two surviving pets - the other was euthanized. Thankfully, an ALL volunteer persuaded the couple to let Jasper be part of the shelter. Sadly, Jasper started developing aural hematoma, a blood clot in his ear. Mohan managed to treat and save Jasper’s hearing - although the kitty’s ear is deformed due to the disease. On the bright side, ALL and its volunteers have offered a home, life and companionship to Jasper over the past two years.
These stories speak of the faith and patience that ALL has in its animals. And these recoveries were greatly aided by the support of dedicated volunteers. Since ALL moved from their farm at Pasir Ris to a government-built facility in Sungei Tengah, Cathy appreciates volunteers who can fix up the new facility, help mix the animal’s food, and shower and walk the dogs. In particular, it makes a big difference to the animals when they have a chance to walk and play outside.
“We have some volunteers who come in on weekdays, but we also welcome those who find it more convenient to drop by during the weekend!” Cathy suggests. So if you have time to spare, head on over!
Cathy’s story will be featured in an animated short film by Eric Khoo and Jerrold Chong. It will be released on 15 January 2020 as part of NVPC’s 15 Shorts anthology. Look out for it!
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