Did your mother make any last wishes regarding the shelter before she passed?
She passed away on 17 November 2019. She was not prepared at all. After she learnt of her diagnosis, she had a pragmatic attitude about it: what do we do next? We never really discussed plans. She never really wanted to think or talk about it; I just went with her flow. She was on chemotherapy for six months, and for a while there was hope she could beat it. She was able to eat and move about. While she was not up for the menial tasks, she still oversaw the administrative matters. There’s that light in her eyes, the same one I’d see in terminally ill animals that want to live. Her spirits were up. She had enough energy to chide my aunt and me for not feeding her water right. But she was in pain. On her last day, one minute she was talking to me, the next her organs started shutting down. She was gone very quickly.
I had already taken over operations of the shelter around 2012, so succession planning was already in place. But the biggest problem I face today is not having my mother around to reflect on a problem, or to seek advice from. I have to make the decisions myself.
What is your hope for Metta Cats?
One of my grandest visions is a free clinic for all the rescued animals. For most families, the reason why they give up their pets is because they don’t have the money to pay the medical bills. I hope to be able to galvanise vets who want to do pro-bono work, and provide them with the equipment to nurse sick or injured animals. With this free clinic, pet owners will no longer have to worry about expensive medical fees.
Also, I imagine an open space, one full of paths and canals, where the dogs can run freely and they won’t feel claustrophobic. The space will also be filled with their favourite toys. They won’t even need to be walked, because they have this entertainment of a space. As for the cats, I envision an open-concept café that mimics nature: plenty of grass and sand for them to enjoy.
Your dream correlates with what your mother thought of the animals’ fate: that they lost out on the privilege of being loved, of living a free life. These open spaces would give them that.
Exactly. It remains a pipe dream, for now.