With reporting from Alanna Alexander
Uncertainty has been cast on the fate of the Qatar Animal Welfare Society, which has been given until the end of May to find a new home before its lease, on a farm just west of Doha, runs out.
But whether the country’s largest animal shelter will be able to find a new location and move some 300 abandoned animals in that timeframe is anyone’s guess.
QAWS announced the impending move to its Facebook fans on New Year’s eve, thanking the Al Thani family for its generosity over the years and saying it understood the decision. But in the comments, the organization added:
We are still getting over the shock, had been lead to believe the lease would be renewed…….huge task ahead !!
So far, their search has not yielded any results.
“We are currently in talks with several contacts regarding new locations but with no definite solution so far,” QAWS committee member Kelly Allen told Doha News. She continued:
“Due to the nature of our organization, it’s very difficult to find a suitable site for us to move on to. We are ideally looking for a farm outside of residential areas, but still accessible for volunteers, where we can house over 300 animals safely and without disturbing anyone!
We know we need in the region of 10,000 square meters of land which will enable us to house both the companion and farm animals.”
If QAWS does not find such a place in time, it might come down to dividing the animals up between board members and volunteers and taking care of them in their own homes, QAWS committee member Lucielle Burger said.
QAWS, which is working to register as an official charity in Qatar and currently subsists on volunteers to donate time and money, was founded in 2003.
In 2009, the shelter had to be rebuilt after a fire leveled the entire facility. Now, it once again provides abandoned dogs, cats, rabbits and other animals with food, medical attention and regular care as they await permanent homes. It invites members of the community to take the dogs for a walk or sponsor an animal for QR50 a month.
Meanwhile, some community members are hoping that Qatar will intervene, as the UAE did in 2007 with the Dubai-based k9 Friends. Then, the 20-year-old animal shelter faced eviction, but was gifted land and a purpose-built dog shelter by the government.
However, not many shelters in this part of the world have seen a similar kind of generosity.
For now, like the stray cats and dogs they have rescued for a decade, QAWS will be in search of a home for itself.
Credit: Photos by Alanna Alexander
Note: This article has been updated to reflect that QAWS was given an extension on its lease until June 1. It previously had until the end of February to move.