Revisiting Ketam Island

I made a trip up to Ketam Island, today, many months after my first visit in June when the Ketam dog dumping issue was still very “hot”. 

Today’s trip was an invitation by INCOVAR, a youth group of college and varsity students (as well as graduates).  I was asked to give an awareness talk to them about the Ketam issue, the mission and objectives of AnimalCare and what these young people can do to help the strays in their own neighbourhood. 

What better group to start with than the youths?  Of course I accepted the invitation, even though I was told I’d have to give the talk SIX times (six different groups arriving at different times of the day).

So, I was at the jetty at about 11.15am, and was quite surprised to see a brand new jetty with ample (and affordable!) parking slots. 

We took the 11.45am ferry across.  And all along the trip, the memories of the last few trips came flooding back.  I saw the islands from the window of the ferry, and I cannot help but still feel the pain and suffering of the many dogs that have died on these islands for so, so many years when the dumping wasn’t made known to the public yet. 

The view from a clouded ferry window.
Hello, Ketam residents…
Still the same old problem – living on top of garbage.
I spotted a dog under this house, but he was too fast, couldn’t take his picture.
But we already know that most of the stray dogs would be hiding under the houses (on stilts) in the day time, especially the hot afternoon.  They only come out at night when the tide comes up.
I waited at one of the associations on the island while the INCOVAR participants had a fun time doing their version of the “amazing race”, hunting for clues, etc. 
This is Team No.1, deciphering clues…
I also managed to talk to a person-in-charge at this association and asked him if the residents were still dumping dogs.  He said no.  But I asked him if they had any longterm plan to solve the uncontrolled breeding of the stray dogs on the island, and his answer was, “We should not do anything to the strays.”  And anyway, he said there were only 200-300 strays now, and it’s a tolerable number.  Well, that’s well and good, but will their residents start dumping again in a few years’ time when the population goes out of control again?  Why not consider doing spaying and neutering of the strays?
He wasn’t interested nor keen to help, and kept saying we have no right to do anything to the strays.  To him, neutering is going against nature, and it is not right.  Well, some people feel that way, but I told him we have to check our intentions – why do we do it?  It is with no evil intent, but just to control the breeding so that the authorities would not come in and exterminate the dogs, and their own residents won’t start dumping again.
But he just shook his head and told me he wasn’t interested to help.  So, that was that.
That conversation ended, and I had to wait longer than expected because the INCOVAR participants were very late in their schedule.  I waited for more than 2 hours, actually.  So I sat quietly and well…just watched the world go by, which wasn’t much, on this laidback island. 
I spotted three black dogs come out from under a house, to go under this bridge.  They looked well-fed and very healthy. 
Here’s another large dog.  He also came up from under one of the houses, and came to search for food at the rubbish bin.
Ahh…found his lunch…he looks well-fed, won’t you say? 
One of the INCOVAR participants could speak Mandarin, so I asked her to help me ask the residents some questions.  It turned out that the elderly lady we interviewed was the grand-daughter of the first village headman of Ketam Island. 
My first question was, are the residents still dumping dogs.  She said no.  And she said they did “last time” because there were just too many dogs, and they would defecate all over the island and it was very smelly.  She also mentioned that “some people” paid the residents money to catch the dogs.  She did not know who these people were. 
We did not get much out of her, anyway. 
Here are the INCOVAR committee members, getting to cycle all over the island.  What fun!  I would have joined them but I had to wait for the six teams to arrive because I had to talk to them.
Here are Teams No.2 and No.3.
Telling them about what they can do to help the strays in their own neighbourhood so that a “Ketam tragedy” will not happen there.
I repeated myself to five groups.  Of course it was all impromptu, so I wasn’t a broken tape-recorder, but I wouldn’t have minded if they had brought a tape-recorder and just recorded my first talk!  But really, it was fun talking to these young people.  I enjoyed it.  Nothing like the personal touch to get the message across. 
At about 4.30pm, the chairperson, Chee Onn, signalled for me to end the talk.  I had lost track of the time.  I had wanted to catch the 4.45pm ferry.
So, off I rushed to the jetty, and Chee Onn sent one of the committee members to escort me there. 
Heh…we BOTH got lost.  Well, I’m hopeless with directions, even though this is just a small island and I have been here (now) a total of four times. 
I finally managed to reach the jetty in the nick of time. 
I met these dogs near the jetty.  They looked like pets.
Bye bye, Ketam Island.
We will visit again, but we hope it’s not to solve a dog tragedy!
P.S. We may have a tragedy coming up in Klang next week – the Klang Dog Pound mass euthanasia.  There is much work to do.