Animal Lovers League (ALL) is an Official Beneficiary Partner of Euforia Singapore. During our meetings with their founders Cathy Strong and Mohan Div, they have shared many stories and experiences that really touched our hearts. These are two individuals who are very passionate about animals, and they have our utmost respect for their dedication to the work they have been doing at their shelter. We bring you an interview with the both of them, that will hopefully give you a better understanding of them as individuals, why they have a passion for animals, as well as the work they do at ALL.
Cathy Strong, Founder of Animal Lovers League
Q: Can you tell us more about yourself, for e.g. What were you doing before you started Animal Lovers League (ALL)?
Cathy: I was a homemaker, after having lived in Hong Kong for two years. My late husband was transferred by his company from the US to Hong Kong. There, he introduced me to the world of cats. When he joined his new Company in Singapore, we brought our five rescued cats with us.
Q: Both of you come across as individuals who are very passionate about animals. How did this love and passion for animals come about?
Cathy: My interaction with animals came about only after a horrific incident in Hong Kong. I was robbed at knife-point barely a week after we arrived there. To cut a long story short, my late husband (either by design or fate) found a newborn kitty in a rubbish bin along a street in Hong Kong and asked me to look after it.
I could not believe he would ask me to do that as I was too traumatized to leave the apartment to get milk for it. With the help of the security officer, I managed to get a human baby bottle. When I held him in the palm of my hand and saw how he wrapped his legs around the bottle twice his size, the maternal instinct in me overwhelmed me, and for the first time I realized how helpless a motherless stray can be. The rest is history!
Mohan Div, Founder of Animal Lovers League
Mohan: My association with not only dogs and cats, but birds and reptiles, began when I was very young. My parents had to have a tight grip on me to keep me from gravitating to every ubiquitous dog or animal I encountered on the streets.
Also my Primary One Teacher played a very pivotal role too, in that either a puppy / animal was brought to the class every now and then for us to play with and then finally to rehome. In my own home, we had dogs and cats too, not to mention the strays that wandered into our home and decided to stay.
In a nutshell; years later, I met Cathy who was already feeding strays and together we continued feeding, rescuing, treating and rehoming animals, mostly cats and dogs, till we registered a Society to garner more financial support for our work with the community and stray animals.
Q: Can you tell us the early beginnings of ALL? How did it first start?
Both: ALL was formed because we exhausted most of our savings and energy sterilizing and feeding the strays. With a registered Society, we could raise funds legitimately and publicly to carry on with our dream for a stray-free Singapore. Big dreams, but someone had to start somewhere.
We were going along fine until the SARS epidemic and we were racing against time to save what was left of the sterilized ones that escaped the culling.
Q: How has ALL grown since the early days?
Both: By leaps and bounds beyond the expectations of many. Especially the SARS period during which time many of our sterilized animals were caught. It was a very very trying time then in our quest to save and accommodate the ones we managed to rescue. Our struggles during that period attracted the attention of the Media and from then on ALL’s shelter became what it is today.
All of this would not have been possible without the support of animal lovers, well wishers, friends, and of course volunteers over the decades who have selflessly and tirelessly seen this journey through with us!
Q: What was the biggest obstacle that you faced during this period?
Both: Our biggest obstacle is and has been the lack of donor money to facilitate all our Society’s functions which encompasses sterilizing, feeding, medical necessities including vaccinations, shelter rental as well as repair and maintenance.
Q: Any special moments or stories over the years that you can share?
Both: There were times when our faith and conviction were put to the test.
When funds were low and the future looked bleak, there were unexpected miraculous instances where donations were received when we were at the brink of eviction.
1) We received donations from the estates of two animal lovers after they had passed on.
2) I visualised the image of one of our former dog adopters and messaged him at a very critical time when we needed money or face eviction. I did not get a response from him, but he suddenly appeared in front of Cathy and myself the next day at a nearby bank. He said he did not know what brought him to Pasir Ris from Orchard Road, where he lived. When he met us, he led us to a short prayer and then wrote us a cheque enough to cover that month’s rental. He was as surprised to meet us. It was truly a Godsend.
These occurrences led us to realize that this journey and resolve to help the animals was not in vain.
Q: What is unique about ALL that makes it different from other animal shelters in Singapore?
Both: Every shelter has its own uniqueness.
ALL’s uniqueness lies in its open-concept environment where all the animals are free to run and play, and our no-kill policy.
All rescued dogs and cats will live here at our shelter until they are adopted or live with us till the end of their natural lives. Medical care is accorded for the sick and abused ones.
Q: Donations are a important source of funds for ALL. Can you tell us what the donations are typically spent on?
Both: 90% of donations are utilized to pay the shelter rental, a worker plus utilities which typically hovers around $25,000 a month. The rest, if any is left, is spent on maintenance and medical costs. We need at least $57,000 a month to run all aspects of the shelter. Unfortunately, we have never reached this amount unless we appeal for donations.
Q: Lastly, what sort of challenges do you foresee ALL facing in the future, and how can our readers support you in any way?
Both: The biggest challenge then, now and in the future is to see that our rescued ones have a roof over their heads.
Every dollar we received from Euforia Singapore’s customers, is a dollar more towards our goal to obtain another premise for the shelter, as we have to vacate at the end of next year when our present location has to be ceded back to the land authority.
About Animal Lovers League
Animal Lovers League (ALL) is a registered charity and home to about 700 dogs and cats, and the animals under their care consist of vagrant strays, abandoned, traumatised, abused and rescued animals. ALL is strictly no-kill. ALL aims to encourage the public to adopt instead of buying animals, and endeavour to rejoin the animals at ALL with loving and committed families. Some of the many different tasks that founders, Cathy and Mohan, as well as volunteers carry out to care for the animals include feeding them, treating sick animals, bringing them for veterinary check ups and when they are sick or injured, vaccinating them against illnesses, and neutering/sterilising them. In addition, ALL also feeds hungry strays on the streets.