Dr Salehatul Khuzaimah Mohamad Ali is a veterinarian on a mission. She wants to foster better understanding about dogs and promote kindness to all animals, dogs included, no matter what one’s religion or beliefs may be.
“Certain people feel uncomfortable that I am a Muslim vet who treats dogs,” she told FMT recently, adding that many have told her to refuse treating dogs at her clinic as touching them was “haram”.
Khuzaimah, who founded Serv-U Veterinary Clinic & Surgery, attributed these reactions to a lack of knowledge about the status of dogs in religion. “Bear in mind that these are also lives created by Allah SWT and you have to respect them.”
To combat these unfounded criticisms, the 37-year-old has turned to social media to educate people about what it means to be a vet. “As vets, we have to care for all creatures.”
A petite woman who smiles easily and often, Khuzaimah is filled with a fiery passion for helping animals that cannot be dampened by the vitriol people fire at her online just because she treats dogs.
Khuzaimah researched ritual cleansing practices in different Islamic schools of thought so as to reassure pet owners and give them accurate information.
“Maybe they think the cleansing is tedious,” she said, explaining that the procedure is actually easy and should not be a deterrent to animal lovers.
Khuzaimah also wants to help people understand why dogs behave the way they do in certain situations. “If dogs bark or attack, it is because they feel threatened by you.”
She regrets the mentality some have of hurting a dog to keep it away from them, especially when there are ways to avoid a dog without turning violent. “If you don’t like dogs, it’s okay, but don’t harm them.”
Khuzaimah’s passion for helping animals came at a young age. As a child, her beloved cat fell badly ill and she had to watch him die slowly and in pain.
“I felt helpless,” she said, recalling the exact moment when she was called to her profession. “I decided to be someone who can save animals in need.”
She uses social media to share tips on pet care, whether it concerns dogs, cats, or exotic animals. She said it was important that pet owners realised that adopting a pet was not just for fun but a serious commitment and that the pets must be loved “as part of your family.”
She said that the only aspect of her profession that she dreaded was dealing with euthanasia. “It’s very difficult, when we have to make that decision to let them go. It really impacts my mental health.” She said she will refuse to euthanise a pet if the only reason is to serve the pet owner’s convenience.
This is how Khuzaimah came to adopt a bearded dragon named Mushu, whose owner wanted her euthanised when she fell ill.
Khuzaimah asked to have Mushu relinquished to her instead. She wanted to make Mushu’s last days as comfortable as possible and hand-fed her medication and food.
Her tender loving care helped Mushu recover and she now lives a pampered life in Khuzaimah’s home with her three children, who dote on her.
Khuzaimah’s children and husband are proud of her work. “My husband is very supportive”, she smiled, explaining how he carries out all the maintenance work at her clinic.
She said she also valued the community where her clinic is located as the people there trapped stray cats and sent them to her for neutering. She said she charged reduced rates for this operation as neutering was essential to help control the stray animal population.
She also noted that the behaviour of irresponsible people who dumped unwanted kittens and puppies by the roadside contributed greatly to the stray animal population in any given area.
Khuzaimah hopes to work with the local authorities someday to create neutering campaigns with a wider reach as well as workshops to help owners learn how to properly care for their pets so that pet dumping no longer happens.
Thirteen years into her profession, this humble yet fierce animal advocate is just getting started. If sheer force of will was enough to save every animal in need, then Khuzaimah has exactly what it takes to help them all.