SINGAPORE: As an animal care supervisor at the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), Mr Suresh Sundramurthi doesn’t just take care of the animals. He also plays in important role in rehoming them and assessing potential adopters.
And he has met his fair share of quirky and sometimes suspect ones.
“We had some funny adopters who said ‘I don’t want a dog to bark, I don’t want a dog to jump, I don’t want a dog to lick’. So, what’s the purpose of having a dog?
“This kind of people will either confine the dog, or they are just adopting for the sake of it,” said the 35-year-old.
SPCA Singapore takes in more than 2,000 abandoned and stray animals a year, with about 70 getting adopted every month.
Of the 200 animals in the shelter currently, about 60 have been there for more than a year, still waiting for a loving home.
SPCA does not keep all the animals that come in; many are strays and are released after they recover from their injuries. And many of those that end up in the Lost and Found section will eventually be returned to their owners.
Every one of them, whether it is a dog, rabbit or cat, passes through the hands of Mr Sundramurthi.
The 35-year-old was profiled on a recent episode of the programme On The Red Dot, about those who left their previous jobs to focus on animal welfare. (Watch it here on Toggle.)
PUTTING UP WITH THE SMELL
After his first full-time job as a dog trainer, Mr Sundramurthi worked in several different industries, including being the security manager of a club.
“But at the end of the day, all these jobs never pleased me. The money was good, but here was something missing,” he said.
He has never been happier than in his current job, even though his hours are long – he puts in about 12 hours a day – and involve cleaning up poo and pee, and putting up with the smell.
“Most of my dogs here recognise me,” he said.
No matter how tired I am, when I step in, they are happy to see me, and I’m happy to see them.
He added: “A lot of people think their jobs are tougher than mine. But they don’t understand that working with animals is a challenge. You have to handle the animals and you have to see to their safety.”
WATCH: A day in the life (2:20)
He stressed that one must be an animal lover to do his job, and not be afraid of getting bitten or dirty.
Mr Sundramurthi recounted how a two-month-old puppy Maia ended up at the shelter with an open wound and had a bowl full of maggots removed from that wound.
Over the three months of her recovery, he said, everyone at SPCA played a part - even turning up after the shelter was closed to clean her cage and feed her.
He said there’s a common misunderstanding that every animal that ends up at SPCA, especially those that are injured, will be put down. “Normally we don’t put the animals down,” he said. But if it’s beyond treatment, “we don’t want it to suffer”.
“We will try our best to treat the animal, and the animal management and the vet will decide what’s to be done,” he added.
New episodes of On The Red Dot air every Friday, 9.30pm on Mediacorp Channel 5.