Woman who spent over $3m saving Singapore's stray animals dies of cancer

She dedicated her life to saving Singapore's strays, spending more than $3 million over two decades of animal rescue.

Lee Siew Ying, founder of Mettacats & Dogs Sanctuary, died on Sunday (Nov 17) from stomach cancer.

During her final moments, Lee, 66, kept the animals she cared for close to her heart.

Her son Terry shared with Lianhe Zaobao that she had entrusted the shelter to him. 

The 37-year-old said that his mum was diagnosed with stage four stomach cancer in April this year after she fainted while feeding cats.

"Mum couldn't bear to part with the animals," he added.

"When she was undergoing chemotherapy, she continued to feed them at the shelter. She was also sewing catnip toys to raise funds for the shelter."

Since 1999, the sanctuary has taken in thousands of injured, abandoned and abused cats and dogs in Singapore, providing them much-needed tender loving care.

Keeping the shelter going is no easy task. Mettacats & Dogs' expenses, which include rental and utilities, food, and veterinary fees, run up to $16,000 per month.

Remembering Siew Ying She had no energy to sew during her last days & gave instruction not to take any more orders. Only 1 or 2 orders not fulfilled. #CATNIPratsMCDS

Posted by Mettacats & Dogs Sanctuary on Monday, November 18, 2019

At her wake at Singapore Casket, the sanctuary honoured her love for the strays by encouraging mourners to donate to an animal rescue cause of their choice instead of sending wreaths.

After the announcement of Lee's death, tributes poured in on social media.

In a Facebook post, Cat Welfare Society wrote: "Singapore has lost one of the most compassionate women in animal welfare we know."

"Some of us would remember your ready help, steady advice and guidance. For that we are grateful — we are grateful for the love you had for the voiceless."

Singapore has lost one of the most compassionate women in animal welfare we know. It is with great sadness we mourn the...

Posted by Cat Welfare Society on Wednesday, November 20, 2019

"She is an inspiration," Voices for Animals president Derrick Tan added.

"Now that she is gone, I believe all the animals that she had helped and rescued that had gone over the rainbow bridge are all lining up to receive her."

I went to pay respect to someone I look upon when it comes to animal rescues, she has been shielding me from many...

Posted by Tan Derrick on Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Meanwhile, Animal-Human Alliance sent Lee off on her last journey and said it would do its part "to ensure her legacy lives on".

In loving memory of Ms Lee Siew Ying. Today, Ah Seng father went to send Ms Lee on her last journey. Many things around...

Posted by Animal Human Alliance on Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Lee was cremated at Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery today (Nov 21).

lamminlee@asiaone.com