Feeding strays and its repercussions
Published on: Monday, November 16, 2020
By: Shirley Khong
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THERE are many stray cats and dogs in Sabah, oftentimes a result of human abandonment, cruelty and neglect to neuter, ignorance and/or indifference. Owners, often due to misinformation, sheer ignorance or laziness, refuse or fail to neuter their pets in time, if at all, and this leads to the ever-increasing numbers of animals struggling to survive on our streets. 

You might be wondering how many puppies can a single female dog produce in her lifetime. The answer is one female dog and her babies can have over 67,000 puppies in a six-year timeframe! 

That’s because a dog can have three litters a year with up to seven puppies per litter. That’s an alarming figure by any estimation and that is the reason why it’s so important to neuter your dogs – both male and female. 

Not only does spaying/neutering slow down the pet overpopulation cycle and prevent thousands of homeless animals, there are a number of beneficial results for you and your fur family member. 

Spaying/neutering often counteracts annoying behaviour of pets in heat, such as howling, spraying irons and the urge to roam. In addition, getting your pet fixed can keep your pet healthier and help prevent certain cancers.  According to a USA Today report, neutered male dogs live 18pc longer than un-neutered male dogs and spayed female dogs live 23pc longer than unspayed female dogs.

And what about the stray cat population I hear you ask? Well, that’s no better!

Did you know that in just seven years, a single pair of cats and their offspring could produce a staggering total of 420,000 kittens? Talk about a lot of kittens running around. The average mature cat can have three litters with a total of 12 kittens per year. Out of those litters of kittens, about 4.7 of them are females, which in turn means they will most likely have litters of their own. These numbers are definite eye-openers because think about how many stray cats there are running around that are not spayed or neutered. 

Not that we don’t all love those little furry felines but too many of them without homes tugs at the heartstrings.

As the stray population keeps on growing through no fault of their own, these animals need food and water to survive. There are many kind coffee shop/restaurant and business owners (of all backgrounds and religious beliefs) who leave food out for these animals and care about their wellbeing. Sadly there are also many heartless people who choose to abuse, berate and shoo these stray animals away!

The usual ignorant comments: “don’t feed the animals, they are dirty”, “they make the area dirty and bring diseases and germs”, “they are a nuisance and poop everywhere”, “they make a mess and are too noisy” and even “we dont want them here, take them away or we will call DBKK to remove them!”

When berating the innocent animals isn’t enough, the verbal attacks are also directed at the feeders: “we will call the police”, “you are stupid to feed these animals” etc.  There are many animal lovers in Sabah and many do their best to care for the stray animals, feeding them and leaving fresh water for them daily. It breaks our hearts to see an animal scavenging for food in dirty bins, panting heavily in the extreme heat looking for water!

These animals have feelings and needs just as we do. They want to have food, water, a safe dry/cool place to live and to live without fear and pain!

Being a feeder of strays makes a huge impact on these animals in making their lives for the better!

Feeders use their own hard-earned money to buy food for these strays. They buy rice, chicken necks, chicken feet etc which they cook for the strays.

Feeders have a schedule and daily routine. Rain or shine they are at the feeding spots as are the animals they feed who are waiting for them! 

Feeders clear away any rubbish left behind by the dogs when they feed and make sure the water is always fresh and in a clean container. It is important that the place is kept clean and clear of rubbish so the public cannot make complaints.

People nearby are usually sympathetic to the strays and they appreciate the feeders who go out of their way to feed. In some areas it is even better, as people learn from the feeder and even end up giving the strays food, too! There are some areas where some of the shopkeepers even help change the water daily and keep the feeding stations clean for the feeders!

However, there are also those unfortunate areas where nothing the feeder does is right. The feeders in these unfortunate areas always receive complaints and sometimes even threats, from a petty thing to the water attracting mosquitoes (causing dengue!) to the place becoming dirty because the dog leaves stuff everywhere. 

No matter how sparkling clean the area is kept, these complainants will always find fault and go on finding fault. These selfish complainants never think of the dogs/cats; just themselves!  Do you think that if the feeders have a choice, they would want to go feed strays? Of course not! But because of their love for these poor neglected animals, they make this special effort to see they are watered and fed!

Do you know how painful it is to starve to death? Please allow feeders to feed as long as the place is kept clean and in order. If you think the spot is not quite suitable you can always ask the feeder to find a more suitable place to feed these strays but please do not stop them from feeding.  

After all, strays are strays because somewhere down the line a human failed them! The very least we can do is try to make amends for human irresponsibility and try to make life better for the strays!

Have a heart; be kind to animals!

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