The New Paper
Aug 10, 2015
Anger and rage. That's how Singaporean socialite Kim Lim felt when she first visited animal shelter Animal Lovers League (ALL) in February.
The daughter of local billionaire businessman Peter Lim told The New Paper: "I saw more than 700 animals packed into a small space. I was overwhelmed by the sight and my heart sank. I really wanted to help the founders of the shelter, who have a good heart and gave their lives to the animals, but faced so many challenges."
Visibly agitated when talking about the mistreatment of animals, the 24-year-old added: "I saw dogs limping and I felt so angry that there were people out there who would abuse their pets. These people are sick in the mind. How could people do that to animals?"
Miss Lim first heard about ALL through a friend, who told her about the animal shelter's lack of funding.
It prompted her to make a trip down to the shelter at 61 Pasir Ris Farmway 3 to take a look at the situation herself. She also voiced her disapproval towards people who buy pets because they are "fun and cute" and then discard them when they cannot handle them, calling such owners "irresponsible".
The straight-talking socialite said: "If you have a child and the child is naughty, do you just give the child away after a few months? You don't. You have to be responsible towards your pets as well because they are part of the family. Treat the pets like your own children."
These overwhelming emotions prompted her to kick-start a charity project to create awareness and raise funds to help animal shelters in Singapore.
Miss Lim joined Pet Lovers Foundation and local actor-host Ben Yeo to produce and launch a limited-edition Common Cause 2016 calendar.
It features Miss Lim, Yeo, and other local personalities including Arissa Cheo, Aileen Tan, Pan Lingling and Ian Fang, with ALL's animals.
All profits from its sales will be divided equally among five Animal Welfare Groups in Singapore - ALL, Action for Singapore Dogs, Cat Welfare Society, Causes for Animals Singapore and Voices For Animals. The calendar, which is sold exclusively at Pet Lovers Centre outlets islandwide and on the Pet Lovers Centre Online Store, costs $10.70 and is available from now until Oct 31.
Miss Lim, who hopes to raise $80,000, said: "When I called my friends such as Arissa and Ian, they agreed immediately without hesitation. They love animals too and would help push for the cause via social media."
She added: "I wanted to raise awareness for the voiceless animals. I love dogs and can't stand it when people ill-treat them. The work of animal shelters is not easy, and I hope with more awareness and support, the situation for the shelters and their animals will improve."
Miss Lim owns four dogs - two French bulldogs (three-year-old Wei Wei and one-year-old Smallie), three-year-old cocker spaniel Basil and 1½-year-old English bulldog Cookie - and they have not always been on their best behaviour.
She recalled an incident when Wei Wei chewed up her brand new Christian Louboutin heels which were lying around on her sofa at home. She added: "Cookie always chews on my Chanel slippers, and also spoilt my Victoria Beckham sunglasses in the past. Basil likes to follow me everywhere and bite on all my make-up."
Miss Lim was not ashamed to admit that her pooches drove her up the wall many times and she would shout and scold them to discipline them.
"My dogs are very hyperactive, like me. They are so naughty and they make me very angry at times but I don't harbour any thoughts of giving them away," she said.
"They are like my children. When they are naughty, I punish them. No pet owners should give their pets away just because the pet is naughty."
Miss Lim also befriended a female dog named Lian Lian at ALL, and is currently sponsoring the eight-year-old Singapore Special for $100 a month, which pays for her upkeep, food and shelter.
The bubbly woman said: "Lian Lian is a very timid dog so I thought that we might not click but she crawled up to me and we bonded."
She added with a laugh: "People around me joked that there was a special bond between us because her name is Lian Lian and I am an 'Ah Lian'."
Miss Lim did not adopt Lian Lian as her four dogs at home are very rough and she thinks that Lian Lian might get bullied by them.
She said: "It is also important for people to consider if their homes are suitable for the dogs before they adopt so that they don't end up giving the dogs away."
Shelter's founder: Lim was eager to help When Ms Cathy Strong, the founder of Animal Lovers League (ALL), first heard that Miss Kim Lim wanted to help the animal shelter, she was a little apprehensive.
The businesswoman in her early 60s told The New Paper: "I thought to myself, a girl with her status might just walk into our shelter and not like what she saw. I didn't expect that she would help us."
She added: "Kim showed up in a T-shirt and shorts and really got down to interacting with the animals. She was sincere and eager to help, and she didn't put on any airs. It really touched me." ALL, set up in 2002, houses 700 strays who have been abandoned, traumatised, abused and rescued.
Ms Strong said ALL needs $57,000 a month to cover rental costs, as well as medical treatment and food for the animals.
As the shelter is currently receiving food donations from volunteers, the figure has dropped to $40,000 a month.
Barely getting by, Ms Strong has held three fundraisers calling for donations via Facebook last year and this year, and managed to raise $45,000, $57,000 and $64,000 respectively.
She said that they have been selling calendars annually for more than a decade. Last year, they came up with the idea of roping in celebrities to help increase awareness but it didn't materialise as they did not have the right connections.
"I am very grateful that Kim got her celebrity friends so quickly. The photo shoot at the shelter was hassle-free. We chose the dogs for them, and the dogs just warmed up to them," Ms Strong said.
"Hopefully, the celebrities who couldn't make it this year can join us next year to do their part to help."
This article was first published on August 10, 2015.
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