Stray Feeding – When will it be their last meal?

Every Saturday without fail for the last 10 years, rain or shine, volunteers from Hope Dog Rescue have been distributing canned food and feeding the stray dogs in factories and construction sites. Over the years, due to factories shutting down, construction sites completing their building projects, culling measures, and accidents, the number of dogs that we have been feeding has been dwindling gradually. Whenever we visit a feeding site and call out to the regular dogs we feed, we will anxiously do a “headcount”. Sadly, the numbers just keep dipping. Our hearts sink when the dogs do not come running up when we call out to them, and we’ll know instinctively that the inevitable had happened. All we can do is to keep up with the feeding every week, so that their tummies will be filled, not knowing when will it be their last meal.

Other than feeding them, we regularly check them for wounds and injuries so that we can quickly administer first aid and try as much as possible, prevent them from succumbing to their injuries eventually. Maggot wounds are the worst because it is the most painful way to die as the maggots progressively eat away their flesh. We also apply Frontline on them so that their tick condition can be better managed.

Puppies are often run over by vehicles when they are old enough to walk and go out in search of food

Strays lead a very hard life and are exposed to the elements every day. When it is raining, they lie beneath tractors and huddle together to keep warm. When it is scorching hot, they do not always have fresh water to quench their thirst. They lap up puddles of water along the roads which are usually contaminated by chemical waste. Very often, a newly rescued dog will have multiple health issues due to the constant amount of tainted food and water they consume. Very frequently, some of them are found with broken teeth, receding gums, and a bloated tummy, a grim testament to the stones and twigs they gnawed down in a desperate attempt to fill their bellies.

Being at the mercy of the weather is the least of our many worries. What’s more appalling is these dogs are often casualties of factories’ and construction accidents, where they do not react fast enough away from danger. Road accidents are also another cause of the stray dogs’ untimely demise. And victims of these road accidents die in the most grisly way, no thanks to the reckless truck and lorry drivers. We try to save the ones who were barely found alive, and even with emergency surgeries and medical treatment, some were paralyzed for the rest of the lives. Countless lost their lives alone and in dire circumstances.

The least we can do is to fulfill their most basic needs, food and water, for as long as they are alive and well. Stray feeding is more than just distributing food to the dogs. Every Saturday, we activate “Hope Chefs”, who will prepare broth, meat, eggs and rice in large quantities. These are then transported to our feeding site, where another group of volunteers will mix the cooked food with kibbles and separate them into portions for our volunteers to distribute. Each driver/car will then go with 2 or 3 volunteers to the different factories and construction sites to distribute the food.

It's a huge weekly team effort

Next comes the best part of the night, where we are met with waggly tails and excited barks. The friendlier ones who recognize us will allow our volunteers to pat them and give them belly rubs. Some of the more wary ones will observe us from afar, and only eat when we move away. Although these dogs are starving, some of them are so sweet and will come to us for pats and cuddles before devouring the food. There is one extremely cute one who can’t decide if he rather eat first or get pats first and alternate between eating a few bites and coming back for pats and back to the food again. We told him we’ll wait for him to finish eating first and then he can come back for more cuddles. Who wants to adopt this sweetie-pie?

This is the sweetie pie who can't decide on what he wants

Every time we leave a feeding site, each and everyone one of us pray and hope that we’ll see them again the next week. One last pat, one last kiss and a whisper to them to stay safe and off they frisk away, not knowing what lies ahead.

We need cooks, drivers and volunteers in order to continue putting food in the dogs’ bellies. Do reach out to us if you can help, as every little bit from you means we can do more for them.

If you would like to contribute to our stray feeding efforts, please email hopedogrescue@singnet.com.sg.

Written by : Jamie
Photography by: Dean