Malay woman in Malacca undeterred despite being ostracised for keeping dogs in shelter

Malay woman in Malacca undeterred despite being ostracised for keeping dogs in shelter
PHOTO: YouTube screengrab / KiniTV

An animal-lover in Alor Gajah, Malacca, who built a small shelter for abandoned animals is being shunned by residents in her village due to her decision to keep dogs as well.

Norashikin Ahmad, who founded the purpose-built shelter next to her home in 2014, now has to travel to the mosque in the next village to pray as she is not welcome at the one right outside her house, Malaysian news portal Malaysiakini reported.

Some people have also boycotted her mother's nasi lemak stall, where she helps out.

Norashikin's story caught the attention of netizens earlier this month, when a video of her rescuing an injured stray dog in a drain went viral online. While many praised her actions, she also faced criticism for touching a dog with her bare hands.

According to The Star, many Muslim scholars discourage the touching of dogs, particularly wet dogs, but doing so to save a life is permissible as long as the proper purification process is subsequently adhered to.

But the 24-year-old, who also has a full-time job at the Social Security Organisation, remains undeterred by the mounting challenges.

She told Malaysiakini: "Many criticised me for not using gloves to touch and hold the dog. Actually I did have gloves, but the dog seemed to feel threatened when I reached out to it while wearing gloves, so I decided to take them off."

Animal lover in Malacca ostracised for keeping dogs in shelter

Norashikin also admitted that her relationship with her mother had previously been strained because of her actions.

"Many people feel it is not appropriate me to touch food after touching dogs as it is considered unclean. At one point my mother could no longer take what the residents were saying, and told me to leave and take my dogs and cats with me.

"Eventually she accepted what we were doing when she saw how we rescued a dog that was in pain, nursed it back to health and eventually gave it away for adoption. But it took time," she recalled.

According to Malaysiakini, Norashikin spends about RM3,000 (S$950) on food and up to RM10,000 on medicine every month for the animals in the shelter, which has about 120 cats and 50 dogs.

But despite all the difficulties, she takes strength and inspiration from the words of her late father.

"He told me that we should help anyone or anything that needs to be helped. It does not matter if it is a cat, a dog or any other animal in need. If we have the ability to help it, then we should," she said.

seanyap@sph.com.sg

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