Tribute to Sabrina Yeap, the Mother Teresa of Animals
17th July 2012 was a date to remember as Malaysia has lost one of its greatest animal lovers and rescuers. On this day, hundreds of dogs and cats have just lost their guardian.
Sabrina Yeap, also known as the 'Mother Teresa of animals' in Malaysia, passed away after slipped into coma (the day before) and without gaining consciousness. She was 49 and she suffered from an advanced stage of leukemia, in which she didn't even know about. Diagnose report that came out at 3 am prior to her death notified that her medical condition was very critical. She was too cared for her dogs and other animals in her shelter that she had totally neglected her health.
A volunteer and a close associate of Sabrina has said something like, "She insisted to stop at Syabas to pay for the water bill while on the way to the hospital. She was very worried that the water would be discontinued and the dogs would have to suffer with no water. She was very sick then and yet she still think of her furry kids."
Sabrina Yeap was an animal lover cum activist that was quite well-known among the independent animal rescuers/lovers in Malaysia. Sabrina was also the founder of the famous no-kill shelter, Furry Friends Farm and she made into the headlines in 2009 when she headed a rescue mission to rescue dogs that were abandoned in a mangrove island, not far from Pulau Ketam, Selangor.
Sabrina was an orphan; her parents were killed in a tragic car accident when she was just a month old. Her babysitter had no choice but to send her to a temple where she grew up with other orphanages. Since the children at that time were much older than her, she amused herself by befriending with the strays in the back alleys. She often fed them with scraps that she sneaked out of the kitchen and quite looking forward to meeting them everyday.
Her caretaker once told her that the life of a stray animal just like her, was very difficult. Stray animals would fight for food and might become cannibalistic when they were too hungry for food. This statement left a deep impact onto her and her mission to save the stray started to imprint in her heart.
Sabrina's ambition was actually to be a vet but since the temple was unable to finance her tertiary education, she had no choice but to let go this dream. She left school after completing Form Six and became a tutor instead. She later took up the job as an animal inspector with the Selangor Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) and spent about 12 years there before founded Furry Friends Farm, an animal shelter with no-kill policy. With the little money that she had, she rented a two acres of farmland at Kundang in Selangor to keep all those stray animals that she rescued.
In April 2009, she was alerted by an article in a Chinese daily that the residents of Pulau Ketam had been rounding up a total of about 400 stray dogs (some were even unwanted pets) before dumping them onto two mangrove islands, known as Pulat Selat Kering and Pulau Tengah. It was reported in the daily that the local authority took no action on those strays and which, it had became quite a serious problem for the villagers. Those dogs were said to attack small kids and chasing people for food. Tourists had also avoided visiting the island due to this issue.
Unlike as what had been reporting in the news, those two mangrove islands were uninhabited and definitely not suitable for dogs or any animals to survive. Water would fill up those islands during tide rise and those dogs that didn't manage to climb up onto trees were drowned to death. Dogs which were able to swam back to the main island or nearby fish kelongs (floating fish farms) were chased away and many drowned from exhaustion. Can you imagine how cruel humans can be?!
In 2007, Sabrina partnered with Dr Jill Robinson, the CEO and founder of the Animals Asia Foundation to found the Dr Dog Malaysia program. It is a program to train rescued and home dogs to serve as a therapy animal to assist/benefit people that suffer from stroke, depression, mentally impaired, physical handicapped, orphans and the elderly. This program is a success as it has received quite good feedback from the community. More and more people realize that a pet can be good thing to own.
When Sabrina was still alive, it was said that she spent very little to herself; she didn't have any fancy cloth, drive a rundown Kancil (a tiny Malaysia made car) and ate very little. She even admitted in an interview that she limit her daily spending to RM10 (about USD$3.33). To her, the animals well-being were more important than anything else. And she didn't mind to starve herself if her dogs were well-fed. That was how far she would go for her furry kids.
Sabrina Yeap has no blood relatives in Malaysia (not a single one) but she was survived with hundreds of dogs and cats and many loyal friends and fans.
A fan of Sabrina Yeap wrote;
With no glorious titles, no pay, no status, no national recognition and no million-dollar funding, allocation or grant, Sabrina Yeap did it. And today she has left a legacy behind, and an inspiration to the many like me who believe in her zeal and cause for abandoned animals to have their place under the warm Malaysian sun. - David C.E. Tneh
In Memory of Sabrina Yeap (Mother Teresa of Animals)
A Tribute to Sabrina Yeap
Goodbye Sabrina Yeap (1963 - 2012) Hachiko's Theme
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