11 Mar 2013 15:00
Md Azmi Ismail, 55, also known as Pak Mie and his wife Halijah Idris, better known as Mak Intan, 65, are both animal lovers. For the past 20 years Pak Mie and his wife have been tending to the needs of stray animals, especially dogs with diseases such as mange and cataracts.
With their combined love to care for animals in need, the couple established the Pak Mie shelter on a vacant area near the the river in Tanjung Bendshara. The shelter that has been operating for the past 4 years 450 km’s away from Kuala Lumpur. The couple have put in their savings to run the shelter and take donations from campaigning on social media sites such as facebook or via word of mouth. Their facebook page alone has become popular with nearly 5000 “friends” pledging their support to the shelter.
The married couple, volunteers at the shelter and its supporters are not only giving aid to these animals but are also attempting to overturn Malaysians perception that animals such as dogs should be disregarded. Much of this public view stems from some of the Muslim population of Malaysia being taught that touching or having a dog is forbidden. It is acceptable to have a dog as a guard or for hunting but not as a pet, particularly not a domestic pet.
Although Pak Mie and Mak Intan have put in a lot of their own money and time into caring for these stray animals they have drawn the attention of malicious gossip. They have been accused as running the center as a cover to hold donation money. They have also been accused of mistreating the animals and torturing them. Pak Mie and Mak Intan strongly deny all these allegations putting forward that it was only until a video about the center went viral on the internet that they started to receive public donations. Prior to that the family ran the center with their own money.
The Pak Mie shelter now tends to over 700 dogs, over 100 cats, as well as exotic animals such as foxes, squirrels and monkeys in a 200 meters x 30 meters compound shelter. Pak Mie feeds them with at least 5 large bags of rice taking him 3-4 hours to feed them.
The shelter is now family operated bringing in his son to help. Contrary to their efforts the shelter is under investigation from the local authorities and they may have to relocate under the pressure of landowners and local land authorities.