When you visit Mount Pleasant Veterinary Centre (Changi), you might be surprised to see two Muslim girls handling your dogs.
Atika & Fatin, Vet Nurses at Mount Pleasant Veterinary Centre (Changi) with Google, everyone’s best friend!
how did you become part of the mount pleasant family?
I joined Mount Pleasant in May 2014. I always wanted to be a vet. To have the knowledge and ability to take care of animals. My parents granted me the freedom to explore and learn about wild animals. They were not upset when my sister and I picked up green-crested lizards or fostered birds.
“I am a thrill seeker – I love the danger of being close to wild animals, that indescribable feeling when they imprint on you. My dream is to work in an animal sanctuary with raptors & wolves.”
The rest of the family at Mount Pleasant Changi (clockwise from bottom R): Dr Girisha (Dr G), Marisa, Dr Tan Choon Yi, Dr Pauline Fong, Rouella.
YOU ARE A MUSLIM. HOW IS IT ALRIGHT FOR YOU TO TOUCH DOGS?
Muslims are discouraged from touching dogs but without good reason. All animals are God’s creation. In fact, we are encouraged to protect and help all animals.
It is not haram (forbidden) to touch a dog. We can touch a dry dog. If the dog is wet or if we touch their nose or mouth (saliva), we need to do a special cleansing with soil and water. We also clean our clothing if it has been touched by a dog’s wet nose or mouth. This cleansing ritual is called sertu. Nowadays we have special soaps for such cleansing which I use every day.
“I think many Malays choose not to interact with dogs, not because they hate dogs, but due to fear. Like how some people are fearful of cats. My lack of fear stems from my love for animals & my wish to help them. I am grateful to my parents for bringing me up to be courageous.”
TELL US MORE ABOUT YOUR CATS
Mithral Caprice Maria is a Seal Point Himalayan from Australia. My parents got her for us in 2000. Maria was queen – it was her house and we were her subjects. She loved leather. And that meant scratching and sharpening her claws on my mom’s leather couch. She also loved to share my parent’s bed. By sleeping right in the middle! Despite all that, we love her dearly.
“Maria loved the camera. She would smile & pose for photos, looking so pretty. I love it when she blinked slowly & gave me one of those cat smiles. It always made my day.”
Shaun Aiden was a stray. My sister Intan and I found him at White Sands Shopping Mall, meowing for his mom near a recycling bin. He was only about 4 weeks young. Shaun is 8 now. He greets my dad and I when we get home and gladly naps with anyone who sleeps till noon! He will put his whole weight on our back or share our pillow.
Mika is my sister Nurul’s son. We found him last year. He is a handful – jumping onto the kitchen counter, stealing food, chomping on my hand as if it is a rat! We think he is quite smart but acts stupid. Sometimes he pretends not to hear us when we call.
how were YOUr last days with maria?
We did not notice Maria was ill because she was still eating and looking well. Then she acted strangely – walking continuously, aimlessly. She was tearing so much, it looked like she was crying. One day, she jumped off my parent’s bed and fell smack on her face. My sister Nurul rushed her to Dr Pauline Fong.
Medicine and subcutaneous fluid would have helped Maria but she would have none of that. We did as much as she allowed us to keep her comfortable – pain relief for her kidneys, medicine and acupuncture to improve her blood count and appetite.
“Thinking back, regular health check is important. The first sign of sickness is often weight loss. Maria never liked to be carried so we did not notice she was losing weight. During her last days, Maria allowed us to cuddle her. She got tired easily & would sleep on our lap.”
My parents gave me the responsibility to do what was best for Maria. It was heartbreaking. I wanted her to stay. But I did not want her to suffer.
Euthanasia was a choice. But I believe we do not have the right to determine the death of another. Unless we are completely unable to care for our furry loved ones to the end of their days, or they are obviously suffering from immense pain, I would not put my pet to sleep.
Maria passed away last Saturday around 5pm. Like many animals, she chose to depart silently, on her own. She was 15 years old.
BESIDES ANIMALS, what stirs your heart?
I am an outdoorsy girl with big goals and big dreams, especially for wild animals and our environment. My dad introduced me to this community of Permaculture – permanent agriculture. We are encouraged to design our lives around growing and rearing food in the most sustainable way.
We went to Queensland, Australia to take a design course in a Permaculture Research Institute. Last March, we continued our education in Earthworks in Tasmania.
Everyday is a journey of learning. I want to learn everything I need to do good for our world And our animals. Every life matters.
After chatting with Fatin, you would agree no matter what religion you are, we won’t go wrong if we choose to honour our earth. And respect all its life forms.