It is a sad fact that even after being taken off the streets and placed in shelters, many stray dogs do not have a bright future ahead of them.
Most of them are deemed unadoptable due to age, illness or undomesticated character. Unfortunately, these put them at risk of being put down by shelters that practice euthanasia.
But Malaysian non-profit organisation My Forever Doggo (MFD) aims to give them a fighting chance.
Working with local dog shelters, MFD takes professional photos of dogs in need of adoption and catalogues them on easy-to-browse Facebook and Instagram galleries.
Since its inception in 2018, MFD has featured 129 dogs, resulting in 48 successful adoptions so far. That’s a 37% adoption success rate that they can boast of.
But what goes into a non-profit project like this? Elisa Khong and Jason Chow, two of the many volunteers behind MFD, share all.
A ‘Sheltered’ Life
Some dogs in shelters often wait a long time for someone to give them a new home, if they are even given a chance at all.
A growing number of rescued strays in the country along with low dog adoption rates nationwide have resulted in overcrowding and often less than suitable conditions.
As Elisa pointed out, it may be these very conditions that discourage potential dog owners from visiting shelters in the first place, especially when compared to the more comfortable experience provided at pet shops.
She also noted that the remote locations of certain shelters might be a factor too.
“We wanted to assist shelters in increasing their adoption rate, and in giving all dogs an equal chance at adoption,” Elisa explained.
“Hence, we came up with the idea of taking individual portraits of each dog, and connecting them with potential adopters via social media.”
Anyone who has tried can tell you that dogs (or animals in general) can make pretty troublesome photoshoot models at the best of times. What more to say when they’re nervous, jittery strays?
But as Jason, MFD’s main photographer reveals, it is all about patience and spending time to get to know them.
“If they are afraid, we spend the time giving them lots of hugs and love until they feel comfortable enough to trust us. Sometimes, a good one minute of gently staring into their eyes is all it takes,” Jason explained.
“But for the overly active ones, we try walking, running or playing with them to calm them down, so we won’t need to chase after them, come shoot time,” he added.
Jason further shared that he along with a team of volunteer photographers would often use toys, snacks and even dancing to get the dog’s attention. This is just a small part of what it takes to get those perfect shots we can see on their social media today.
“It all depends on the dog’s personality. Of course, we have some that are natural-born supermodels,” he said.
A Dog’s Tale
Every dog has a story to tell, and MFD makes a point to share these stories alongside every photo they post up.
Their photo captions read more like a dating site profile, with details such as the dog’s name, gender, size, background, personality and even favourite quotes.
One of the team’s favourite success stories comes from Ronnie, the mini-poodle. Alongside his brother Reggie, Ronnie used to share a tiny kennel with limited love, care, and hygiene.
Today, Ronnie lives with his newfound family, a bed of his own, and a bunch of hamster friends.
“One of the greatest feelings in the world was to watch him run around his home happily with a big smile on his face. All because someone was willing to give him another chance,” Elisa said.
Behind The Camera
Alongside a team of volunteers, MFD is run by Aaron Woon, Becky Kux, Elisa Khong, Jason Chow, Judith Yeoh, Khailee Ng, and Martin Perez.
As a non-profit, MFD is half funded by Elisa and Khailee’s Cloud Wedding.
The happy couple hosted and live-streamed a ‘cloud wedding’, allowing guests to attend the ceremony from the comfort of their own homes.
This allowed them to donate over RM1.3 million to charitable causes of their choice (such as MFD)—money that would have been otherwise spent on a lavish wedding.
Shouldering the other half of MFD’s current costs is Petchef, a local startup that provides home-cooked meals and meal plans for pets.
MFD also collaborates with 5 others including:
- JomPaw, a Malaysian platform for pet sitters, taxi and training services,
- Paws on The Run, a mobile pet grooming service,
- PerroPet/PerroMart, an online pet store and online pet magazine,
- PetBacker, an international platform for pet-sitter and grooming services,
- BloomThis, a designer flower bouquet and gift shop.
Caring for a new family member is a daunting prospect, especially for first-time pet owners who may not know where to begin.
To encourage adoption, the above organisations put together a ‘Welcome Kit’ that includes goods and services ranging from dog food and snacks to grooming sessions and behaviour classes.
Think of it as a starter kit so that your first step into pet ownership is a positive one. It even comes complete with flowers as a “thank you” for adopting.
Overall, MFD’s efforts help showcase these “undesirable” dogs in a better light to increase their chances of adoption.
It’s a good start, but now it is up to the rest of us to tuck tail and prove that we deserve “man’s best friend”.
- You can find out more about My Forever Doggo here.
- You can read more about what we’ve written on pets, pet products and services here.
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Featured Image Credit: My Forever Doggo