Story of a survivor



By Ella Sherman, SPCA Volunteer & Management Committee Member

This is my girl Rosemary, a Pomeranian. On the day I first set eyes on her at Madam Wong’s Animal Rescue Shelter down at Pasir Ris Farmway, I’d never witnessed a dog in such appalling condition. She had the saddest eyes you’d ever seen. It had been a miracle that she had even been alive. Rosemary had spent the first 10 years of her life in a Singapore Puppy Mill. She would have had hundreds of puppies while being kept in a tiny cage that she couldn’t even stretch out in and had also developed disfigured ‘cage feet’. She’d never been walked, never seen the sky or sniffed the grass, and most of all never known human kindness.

When I first saw Rosemary I couldn’t stop crying for 20 minutes. I was so sad and disgusted that humans could treat an animal like this.

Rosemary came home with me. I simply couldn’t leave her behind, knowing fully well that she would die, despite being ‘full at the inn’ myself!

Even after several baths, she absolutely stunk – it was the smell of rotting corpse, the smell of death. It filled up every room in my apartment and even my garden. I’ll never forget the first morning she woke up after a good night’s sleep, she stretched and gave me the most beautiful lopsided toothy smile to behold!

The vet told me to put her down and not waste my money on her, but I felt Rosemary’s many health issues were ones that could be managed with a bit of investment in health care and good nutrition, and an abundance of tender loving care. I strongly felt this dog should know some love and joy in life before passing on. Rosemary had only known wretched suffering, torment and sadness, I wanted to do everything I could to pamper her and give her a lovely life.

Rosemary’s transformation was miraculous. Within just a few weeks she looked a million times happier and healthier. Her eyes looked alive again, her hair started to grow, she had a new lease of life.

Whenever I feel down I take one look at Rosemary and her obvious joie de vive, her amazing enthusiasm for life, her gentle loving soul, all makes me feel better. You’d think she’d hate people for what they put her through, but she is the sweetest thing – and truly an inspiration.

So many people these days pat Rosemary and comment on what a friendly sweet dog she is, they have no idea that she’s been to hell and back. They are ignorant of what goes on behind the scenes at these disgusting Puppy Mills.

Rosemary is 12 now, in the winter of her years, but she acts like a puppy, a youngster a third of her age. It’s as though she’s been given a second chance at life and is making the most of every second of it.

Rosemary has since had cancer of the paw caused from an infection from the Puppy Mill’s squalid dirty conditions, and had to have a few toes removed. Thankfully she rebounded in no time and is the most resilient dog imaginable. Nothing dampens Rosemary’s spirit – she wanted to go on her walk the day after the operation when the vet said she wouldn’t want to walk for a week or two! The operation was a success and she is now cancer free.

Rosemary goes on three walks a day, eats the finest food known to dogkind, is preened and pampered, kissed and cuddled, endless tummy tickles – and thoroughly enjoying life. I wish I could help all the abused dogs out there in this way.

Rosemary is beautiful in every way, with a thick silky coat, sparkling eyes, and the biggest smile. Sadly, she is one of very few Puppy Mill dogs with a second chance at life. Many dogs rescued went on to die – they were just too weak and too sick. The animal rescue volunteers worked tirelessly looking for good homes for the survivors (Singapore has an amazing network of volunteers who receive no credit). I remember families viewing the survivors and turning up their noses, a woman saying to me ‘But they’re all so ugly’. A couple of my friends stepped up and were great. They were committed to saving a life.

Rupert, a puppy Pomeranian from SPCA, recently joined our canine family, and the beautiful thing is that Rosemary has thrown herself into mothering him and adores Rupert. The pair are inseparable. It’s a delight to watch, especially knowing that Rosemary has had so many of her children taken away from her. Now she has one to stay…

I hope Rosemary lives a long healthy life to make up for the time she lost in the Puppy Mill. It’s high time Puppy Mills are banned here. While there are so many wonderful pets needing homes in the animal rescue shelters, it’s nonsensical that Puppy Mills and Pet Shops selling live animals even exist. Singapore is a small, efficiently run country – a few changes to current practices would make a huge difference to the lives of animals and volunteers who are trapped in the vicious cycle of constantly re-homing pets, and such changes would be a great example to the rest of the world!