Extreme animal hoarding: Two dogs rescued after five years of hell
Published on: Monday, August 10, 2020
By: Dr Roslee bin Haji Abbas
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HElping Animals Rescue Team (Heart) 

IF YOU have ever complained that your apartment is the size of a shoebox, consider the living space of two dogs in their tiny crates for five years. 

A passing motorist from Keningau, who did not want to be named, took videos of the dogs and other animals in cages looking weak from the scorching sun. 

The dogs with their mournful eyes would no doubt have stayed in the cages for the rest of their lives had a motorist not noticed the horrendous conditions, and decided to contact Heart. Heart not only saves animals from suffering, but also helps to rehabilitate them. 

Hidden behind a small cage, set back off a busy hilly Fuh Yih Ting road on the outskirts of Kota Kinabalu, sits a derelict house site belonging to the owner of the abused dogs. Speeding cars pierce the silence of this hilly road. When we heard the faint whimper of the trapped dogs, heads hung low in their tiny cages. Our work began.

We arrived in the blistering heat and were unsure what to expect following the alleged reports of caged dogs in captivity for five long lonely years. We walked toward the tiny cage and the smell of faeces hit us even before we reached the filthy cages. 

For a moment, we tried to imagine what life must have been like for these beautiful brown dogs. Fed on scraps, their only view were the passing cars, year after year. Helplessly peering through the cage, the dogs seemed vacant, staring off into the distance and seemingly unaware of the commotion unfolding before them. 

In our 17 years as animal rescuers and inspectors, we’ve never seen such scale of horrendous act of animal cruelty. 

An animal cruelty investigation by Heart in Fun Yih Ting is shedding light on the disturbing conditions that has surrounded the area for many years. The owner of a large-scale animal hoarding near the Fun Yih Ting road left dogs, chickens, birds and monkeys trapped and starving in cages at his home has kept these animals for years. 

Many of the chickens and birds were being kept in small cages stacked on top of each other. We have seen a lot of animals suffering in the last 17 years but we would say that the condition of these animals were kept in was probably in the ‘Top 10’ of most horrible cases.

The condition and treatment of the animals being kept at the owner’s house is miserable and inhumane to say the least. Animals are kept in small dirty cages, some without food or water. Some are chained, and the majority is in questionable health. For any animal lover, it is heartbreaking to witness the state of the animals being kept and treated there.

These animals are being kept in atrocious and pitiful conditions that go against the Sabah Animal Welfare Enactment 2015 guidelines.

The Heart team which visited the owner’s house observed that the dogs’ cages were too small, dirty, made of the wrong material, bare and unfit for habitation. Animals in cages had no drinking sources. The water bowls that were seen contained filthy water.

We arrived to discover a cluttered front porch with households items everywhere. We were stunned by the cramped enclosures the animals were forced to live in deplorable conditions. Now we can see the saddest dogs in the world. This was living hell for the animals, kept in cramped conditions with little space to move around.

Dogs never should be left in their crates for more than half the day, or longer than overnight. What’s more being kept for many years. Dogs are social creatures and need the company of other dogs and humans. If they were left too long in a crate, they can develop “cage rage,” and become depressed, anxious, fearful or ferocious.

The story of two dogs we named Hansel and Gretel living in a crate is a sad one. They spent their entire adult lives in a space no larger than a fridge. While confined to their cages, they were unable to turn around, stand up straight without hitting their heads, stretch their legs and especially deprived of the vital companionship of other dogs. 


Each cage is no more than two meters long and less than a metre wide. It’s only slightly bigger than their own body, and no bigger than a household fridge. Driven mad from boredom and loneliness, caged dogs often become aggressive, neurotic, and self-destructive. 

They bite or mutilate their skin, incessantly bob their heads and regurgitated, paced back and forth, pecked over and over again at cage bars, and shook or even collapsed from anxiety. This is what happened to Hansel and Gretel, according to witnesses. They craved freedom and companionship, not the cruel reality of forced solitary confinement for the rest of their very long lives.

Life in captivity was a death sentence for Hansel and Gretel, who suffered from malnutrition, improper environment and the stress of confinement. This is a far cry from the comfortable grass bed they would seek in nature. Dogs like to be clean, but being caged 24/7 forced these dogs to lie in their own excrement all day. They are cramped and develop shoulder sores from rubbing against the steel bars.

In these cages, Hansel and Gretel live their whole lives unable to express natural dog behaviours, like foraging or socialising with other dogs. 

The owner also keeps five other dogs in a crate and on a chain and monkeys, birds, chickens, and other animals being kept in small enclosures. We had told him that he could only rear two dogs at any one time and has to obtain a licence for his pets. We also gave him a stern warning to improve the quality of the animals’ lives. 

The owner had been given a grace period to fulfil the conditions in the notice in which to comply with the Sabah Animals Welfare Enactment 2015. 

Under this enactment, any person convicted of caging or chaining a dog 24/7 and intentionally making an animal suffer can be imprisoned for up to three years in jail and/or fined RM100,000 for felony animal cruelty. 

Should he fail to do so, further action would be taken. The owner had been informed that a follow-up inspection would ensue to check if the situation has been remediated or improved.

The malnourished dogs were confiscated by Heart and have since been fostered and made full recovery.

We are depending on people to make reports. This case was from someone picking up the phone and calling. This person clearly had concerns for these poor dogs. It is important that if you have any doubts or fears about the treatment of an animal to call the animal welfare groups or the authorities.

We receive no government funding and rely on the support and kindness from our community, private donations and charity bazaar to complete our mission. Heart does not euthanise animals to make space to house others. We are a no-kill animal welfare group and work to preserve life whenever possible.

We rely on donations from people like you who are willing to spend their hard-earned money to help animals in dire needs.

If you would like to help to pay for Hensel and Gretel’s food and medical bill please send us an e-mail at [email protected] for more information. 

"Have a heart. Donate" 

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