As an animal welfare advocate, Malina Tjihn has always been committed to doing what is necessary to improve the welfare of the stray dogs that she has the privilege to help. Malina’s journey in animal welfare began when she met another stray dog feeder at Lorong Halus in 2011.
“A conversation sparked very quickly between us, and I was introduced to other feeders. The 8 of us, all women, quickly became friends, bonding over our common interests in trying to better the lives of the stray dogs we care for,” she said. Wanting to make a bigger impact on the animal welfare scene, she and her friends began to discuss how to make a difference.
During a “Meet the Member of Parliament session,” Malina brought up the issue of saving community street dogs. It was there that parliament member Tan Chuan urged her to form Save our Street Dogs (SOSD) with her friends. He hoped a collective group would have a louder voice to bring change.
“In those days, it was very tough,” Malina recollected. “We had no physical shelter; no means to take in any dogs. So, we could only get people with space in their homes to foster the animals. What we could do was very limited.”
It was only when SOSD took over a physical shelter that the rescue work started to take off. The 3 “R”s – Rescue, Rehabilitation, and Rehoming became the way to give the dogs a second chance at a loving home.
The decade-long journey was challenging but fulfilling. What started as rescue and rehoming has evolved to include advocacy and outreach on the importance of responsible pet ownership and the welfare of stray dogs being accepted as part of the community. Today, SOSD runs education and outreach programmes in schools and corporations to bring awareness to the plight of stray dogs.
Many of these stray dogs often fight other animals for food or scavenge the streets daily to survive. Even worse, they experience abuse and discrimination from people. SOSD advocates showing empathy and compassion for these stray dogs. One such program that they launched to promote the welfare of street dogs is Project Adore.
Project Adore is a pilot programme that started in April 2012 that aims to allow the Singapore Specials mixed-breed dogs to be adopted into Housing & Development Board (HDB) flats. Even though the criteria for adoption were stringent, it means that more Singapore Specials rescued dogs now have more options in finding a home.
In November 2018, the Singapore National Parks Board (Nparks), responsible for managing the country’s green spaces, launched the nationwide Trap-Neuter-Release-Manage (TNRM) programme. This significantly reduced the stray dog population and built a network of co-operation with the various animal welfare groups to help more stray dogs. SOSD helped by taking on designated sites and addressing complaints about the dogs.
“We would have to assure the public that these strays are cared for by feeders and will not cause any harm to people. In the unlikely event that the dog is aggressive or reported to attack people, we would step in to remove the dog at our sites,” said Malina.
Through the TNRM programme, many stray dogs have been sterilized and found a new home. Through SOSD’s many initiatives, strays are given a better alternative to living on the streets. The work is challenging given the lack of resources as organizations like them rely solely on donations or efforts of the public to keep their shelters running. Private companies are also pitching in to help.
Addiction Pet Foods ran a donation drive for World Animal Day in 2021 to donate packs of dog treats to SOSD. There’s also regular food donation to help care for the shelter’s rescue dogs.
You can also make a difference.
If you would like to lend a hand, you can send SOSD donations via this link: https://paypal.me/SOSDSG?locale.x=en_GB You can also send donations in kind. For more details, email SOSD at [email protected] – AddictionPet.com