For the Love of Dogs
While many her age were just beginning to figure out what they wanted to do, then 19-year-old Melodee Tan had decided to devote her time towards the care of animals. The decision was largely griefdriven, and it came after the abrupt deaths of her beloved pet dogs, Luckie, Dobie and Bambie in 2011.
“I lost three dogs in a span of six months, so that was what pushed me to start Hope for Animals,” Melodee, now 26, recalls. “The time when my dogs fell sick, my family was coincidentally going through some financial issues, and it felt like I didn’t have anyone to turn to for advice.” Melodee was overwhelmed with guilt, and blamed herself for all three deaths. She believed that her dogs suffered under her care due to a mix of ignorance, negligence and irresponsibility on her part at that time with regards to the importance of sterilisation and vaccination. One of her dogs was not sterilised, and passed away from womb cancer. “They passed away before my very eyes.”
It was an extremely difficult and traumatic experience, but instead of dwelling on the past, she decided to turn the negative situation into a positive one. In early 2012, she started Hope for Animals in honour of her three dogs.
Hope for Animals was initially a platform for pet owners to come together with the goal of spreading awareness and providing mutual support. Fast forward five years later today, the small ‘project’ had blossomed into a voluntary animal welfare group largely involved in adoption drives for animal shelters, furthering the message of animal responsibility in Singapore, and organising creative fund-raising efforts like the popular doggie ang-pow designs.
27 August 2017 was a first-time collaboration between Hope for Animals and East Spring Secondary School for a carwash event that saw the support of some 80 cars. Melodee and her volunteers managed to raise more than $2,000, all of which went to Exclusively Mongrels Limited and Oasis Second Chance Animal Shelter (OSCAS).
“Funds are always a challenge. We could use a sponsor but everyone will only give if there’s some way they can benefit. So most of the time, funds are from our own pocket,’’ she says. When she is not organising fundraisers for animal shelters, the Tampines resident of 24 years can often be found walking dogs by the park near her home. It is to her delight that the estate is becoming more pet-friendly with the addition of a dog run in Tampines St 82 and dog training classes every Sunday morning around Tampines St 11.
The co-existence of human beings and animals in a community can potentially bring about various benefits for our residents. Many would be surprised to know that the presence of pets have a significant positive impact on human lives - studies have shown how animal companionship reduces high blood pressure. However, in order to create the ideal harmonious living environment that both humans and animals can enjoy, Melodee acknowledges the imperative need for pet owners to exercise pet responsibility, which is unfortunately “still lacking” amongst residents. For a start, she proposes that pet owners set a good example by cleaning up after their pets.
“If we’re trying to move towards becoming a more pet-tolerant community, we’ll need to come together to reach out to dog, cat and rabbit owners to teach them about pet responsibility,” says Melodee. “Because that’s where it all starts.”