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Sunday, March 7, 2021

Qatar animal rescue groups appeal for help during pet ‘dumping’ season

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Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

As Qatar residents prepare to leave the country for their annual summer vacations – or for good – many appear to once again be leaving their pets behind, putting a strain on the country’s already overworked rescue shelters.

This year, the issue seems especially problematic due to layoffs in the energy sector, animal shelter groups have said.

Speaking to Doha News, Kelly Allen, one of the founding members of the Qatar Animal Welfare Society, said:

“We are finding an increasing number of people this year who are phoning in and are having to leave all of a sudden because of the layoffs. Most people weren’t expecting to leave, or don’t have funds set aside now to take the pets with them. It’s a really difficult situation.

All we can recommend is that they try to do everything they can to take their pet. Rehoming animals is almost impossible during the summer. No one is thinking of adopting now; people only look to to adopt in September, when they’re back from their summers. It’s not logistically possible to rehome them now.”

‘Dumping season’

This time of the year is often the most difficult for shelters in Doha, which find themselves overcrowded, understaffed and underfunded throughout the summer.

“It all happens simultaneously,” said Allen. “Kitten season occurs immediately before the summer, so our boarding facilities are full with new litters.”

Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

She continued:

“Then the summer starts and we have animals being left behind. At the same time, our volunteers and helpers also leave the country. We have animals being dumped at our doorstep or tied up to our fences, and though we are full, we cannot turn them away.”

To cope with the influx, both QAWS and 2nd Chance Rescue are stepping up their efforts this year to help offset the monetary and manpower burdens that the dumping season brings.

The organizations are holding food, charity and volunteer drives via their various social media accounts in an attempt to pay for the thousands of dollars of out-of-pocket funds used to sustain their secure shelters.

Speaking to Doha News, Amy Redfern, one of the main caretakers at 2nd Chance Rescue, said:

“Donations dry up in the summer. Everyone is struggling right now. The pro-animal committee flies out of the country, so do the donations with them.

At the moment, we’re trying to raise awareness of the urgency of the situation, which a lot of people don’t know about. They assume that the government helps or that shelters are funded. This is not how it is. This is coming out of our pockets. All the other shelter groups are crying out for help.”

Dog food donation pyramid
Dog food donation pyramid

The shelter started a food drive last week, and has so far accumulated some 240kg of pet food in donations.

While the number may seem large, the amount collected so far is only enough to feed the shelter’s large number of canine inhabitants for three to four days, organizers said.

Food costs aside, which, according to a Facebook post by 2nd Chance, amount to some QR25,000 per month, other organizations like QAWS have begun rent and volunteer drives to raise the QR51,000 required to home the shelter’s 250-plus residents.

The campaign, which started last week, has raised nearly QR25,000 in a week, according to its online crowdfunding page.

Awareness campaign

The crux of the issue, according to Allen and Redfern, stems from a lack of awareness of the responsibilities involved with owning a pet.

“If you do get an animal, you have to be responsible to them for the rest of their life,” Allen said. “A dog lives for about 18 years, a tortoise for about 80 to 90 years, and parrots for about 60 years. People buy these animals from (Souq Waqif) because they are cheap and easy to get a hold of, and they don’t do their research.

They don’t realize that animals are not easy to take care of. When we talk about a lifetime responsibility, it’s your life time and possibly your children’s.”

DAWGS campaign
DAWGS campaign

Throughout the year, both organizations stress the importance of pet responsibility, research and preparedness, and have been asking people to ensure that their pets either fulfill the necessary pre-departure airline requirements, or that shelters are contacted in advance to arrange boarding facilities.

Expats traveling to Europe, for example, have to ensure that their pets have a blood test for rabies carried out at least three months prior to departure.

To help address this issue, a new group, the Doha Animal Welfare Group Support (DAWGS) was set up last week as an umbrella organization that works to raise awareness of the dumping season, travel requirements and pet-related issues for rehoming animals.

Spearheaded by Kate Lennon, a British expat, the group has begun its first social media campaign under the title of “Please Don’t Leave Me,” to deter residents from dumping their pets.

“This group is a virtual pair of hands. Our first campaign asks people to think about what happens when they leave their animals behind. Pets don’t have a survival instinct. A lot of people think that they’ll be okay, but they won’t be,” Lennon said.

The group’s next campaign, which comes out next week, addresses the issue of waning foster homes given the summer months, and is hoping to encourage people who wouldn’t have otherwise considered fostering, to help out over the summer.

“From what I’ve heard is that it’s really bad this year. There’s a lot of people leaving their jobs across the Middle East, and that’s seemed to have had a (detrimental) effect on the animals,” Lennon said.

Thoughts?

39 COMMENTS

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MIMH
MIMH
5 years ago

Usually I am for freedom of choice but maybe in this case Qatar should ban non Qataris from having pets or make them pay 1000 QR a year for a pet licence. The money could then be used to deal with the pet dumping when it happens. Pets are not essential for the expat lifestyle.

Rane de Beer
Rane de Beer
5 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

Agree. On the other hand, we adopted a stray cat last year and took it back home – which means at least one animal was saved. It was quite easy, so expats that choose to have animals here have no excuse. The main aim should be to create a better caring culture for animals amongst all in Qatar, and having strays sterilized. It kills me to see the suffering cats and blindfolded birds

Rane de Beer
Rane de Beer
5 years ago
Reply to  Rane de Beer

Sinj in Qatar, Sinj at home, in a real tree! And fat

Jen
Jen
5 years ago
Reply to  Rane de Beer

Ah Brilliant!!

Cerebus
Cerebus
5 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

So we should now be determining what is essential and not essential for and expat lifestyle? Thanks Stalin.

Taylor
Taylor
5 years ago
Reply to  Cerebus

Pets are not essential for most except those who need them for medical purposes (physical and mental). If people are to have them though, they should adopt from shelters and keep them with them until the end.

Jen
Jen
5 years ago
Reply to  Taylor

Having a pet teaches a child about love and respect and responsibility for other living creatures on this earth. A pet,although a big responsibility, adds to one,s life-when you experience their love and funny little ways!

Taylor
Taylor
5 years ago
Reply to  Jen

That still does not make them essential. As there are many animals needing homes of course I would encourage individuals to keep pets. However, I have to agree with PETA (I usually don’t) that the idea of pet keeping is selfish. We over breed, manipulate species, sell, etc. just so we can have something to possess and love. We control when they get to pee, what they get to eat, where they get to go, how much exercise they have, we tell them to be quiet if they bark, etc. etc.
The act of caring and respecting living things should come from our own learned behavior; we do not NEED an animal to do so. And the way animals have been bred and the manipulation of their species…isn’t really respect or love.
But, as there are many “pets” already, lots who have been bred to be fully dependent on human care as they could not survive any way else *like flat faced breeds*, they need to be taken care of and adopted.
I do hope that many do get adopted (and neutered along the way) into loving families and cared for.

Jen
Jen
5 years ago
Reply to  Taylor

I feel pets are essential-but we all entitled to our opinions. And I do agree that some people are very irresponsible-like overbreeding or controlling animals.

Taylor
Taylor
5 years ago
Reply to  Jen

Indeed we are 🙂 takecare

Taylor
Taylor
5 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

I agree. They should also try and curb people buying from europet and from breeders. Buy from shelters and get your pets neutered if they are not.

Siling Labuyo
Siling Labuyo
5 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

This measure would only penalize responsible pet owners or those who try to help rescue animals off the streets, and make us subsidize (1) the people who actually abandon animals, and (2) the government that fails to implement laws against animal cruelty or take active steps to promote both animal and public welfare and safety, notably by providing government-funded shelters to ensure not only that animals are not left to roam around the streets, but are also treated humanely.

Anonymouse
Anonymouse
5 years ago

How hard is this? When you get a pet you understand that it is for life, and you immediately budget the costs associated with relocating it. Our pets are members of the family and we would no more leave them behind than we would a child.

Jen
Jen
5 years ago

It,s really distressing this happens. There r many of us who set up feeding stations for cats-like 3 times a week to give them energy to hunt and scavenge but what happens when we go on leave? One can only take in so many cats because one has to be realistic abt the cost of taking them with you when u leave. Also re homed many dogs-but it is not easy. Big thanks to all the volunteers who put their heart into this . The picture with the words-PLease do not leave me, I won’t be alright broke my heart!

MIMH
MIMH
5 years ago
Reply to  Jen

Probably best to cook them and give to labourers.

ShabinaKhatri
ShabinaKhatri
5 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

Deleting because that’s not funny.

Simon
Simon
5 years ago
Reply to  ShabinaKhatri

That’s NOT a good reason for deleting!

Jen
Jen
5 years ago
Reply to  Simon

What I saw posted-very good reason to delete. Some people post stupid and disgusting things on here. Thanks. Shabina for deleting and please keep up your good work.

Simon
Simon
5 years ago
Reply to  Jen

Sounds like it was something other than ‘not funny’, then.

Jen
Jen
5 years ago
Reply to  Simon

Cruel and silly more like–think the person just likes to inflame things.

LP
LP
5 years ago

Oh my goodness… maybe licenses should extend to all, lets not pretend this is just an expat problem..
Whilst I would happily pay for my own 6 rescues, large sums of money would deter people from adopting and relocating their animals. How about we start with enforcing the rules on abandonment and a comprehensive microchip base is collated to facilitate this by the authorities?
Personally I don’t think children are essential to any lifestyle, but each to their own…and I won’t charge you a license fee 🙂

The Reporter
The Reporter
5 years ago
Reply to  LP

You used a very inappropriate word there I’m afraid – “enforcement”

LP
LP
5 years ago
Reply to  The Reporter

Inappropriate? Seriously? I apologise if you deem it inappropriate, but when discussing laws/rules/regulations, this is a perfectly acceptable word. I am shocked…if this is the level of censure, where the actual meaning of a word used in the correct context means I am deemed inappropriate, I think this forum is not for me. To anyone who read the comment and is mentally scarred this was not my intention, I apologise.

Michkey
Michkey
5 years ago
Reply to  LP

Do you even?

Yacine
Yacine
5 years ago
Reply to  LP

Duh! Do you know something called “sarcasm”?

Simon
Simon
5 years ago
Reply to  LP

Crikey, LP – new to Big Q? New to DN? Chill!!! The comment was (I imagine) meant to be wry / humorous / encouraging-supportive, even. Stick with us, and you will note that lack of enforcement of the rules / laws locally is one of the biggest issues that many expat commenters have.

Guest
Guest
5 years ago

Sad #savetheanimals

Yacine
Yacine
5 years ago

We need a kafala system for pets. Each expat needs to sponsor their pet(s). Once the expat’s RP cancelled, the animal’s RP is automatically cancelled. Expat’s must show a document stating that they sent their animal back home before leaving for good. If it died they have to show a death certificate from the municipality. If they want to give them to someone else they have to ranger their sponsorship.
It is either that or a complete ban on expat’s bringing or adopting pets.

outdoorsboys
outdoorsboys
5 years ago
Reply to  Yacine

A ban on expats adopting? The animals being adopted are those dumped by expats and Qataris so lets not be hasty.Expats who adopt, are dealing with the problem, not causing it.
It would be more constructive to license pet ownership and make it illegal to breed animals to sell the offspring unless a regulated licensed breeder. Ban the import of animals for sale here. If someone wishes to buy a pedigree from a breeder, that animal should then be imported as a regulated accredited individual. This would go some way to stopping the ever growing puppy and kitten farms which basically dump their produce on Qatar.
Given the nature of the problem regarding expats leaving animals behind, often due to the cost involved which they have not made arrangements for, perhaps Qatar could be very proactive in subsidizing, for instance, the certification, tests etc.
In the short term, funding is needed urgently to deal with the existing problem of suffering animals on our streets. A funded and organized Trap neuter release programme for cats would make an incredible impact. Regulations about animal neglect and cruelty are desperately needed and reports to police of torture and abuse of cats and dogs need to be taken seriously and dealt with.
Perhaps most importantly of all is , as ever, education. Animals should be in schools, fostering a caring attitude, as they are in many other countries.

Jen
Jen
5 years ago
Reply to  outdoorsboys

There are regulations against cruelty to animals in Qatar–but they dont seem to be enforced. There is a trap,neuter,release system–but it is only done when someone calls them–then they will come trap the cat, neuter or spay, vaccinate and chip–and then bring the cat back. Some of the western schools have animals in–for e.g I know one that has a vet nurse come in and also some rescue animals and they teach the children about looking after animals and having respect for them. 2nd chance has also done that. But i agree with you—it needs to be rigorous and still penalties and jail time for abusers of animals. I was going around some suburbs the other day and saw that quite a few people had put out bowls of water near bins and scarps of food.

Simon
Simon
5 years ago
Reply to  Jen

‘regulations against ….. in Qatar–but they dont seem to be enforced.’

Pls. ref. The Reporter above!

sadam
sadam
5 years ago

How to adopt pets? How to volunteer ?

Jen
Jen
5 years ago
Reply to  sadam

You can volunteer at Qaws or 2Nd chance–to walk dogs, or clean up etc or donate money or food and blankets to the shleters (phone numbers and addresses or are online if you google.) If you dont want to do it formally you can put out water and food by your local bin–also if you see stray cats you can call the government to come trap them and get them neutered or spayed and vaccinated-then they will return them to the area. You could also take in a stray dog or cat you see on the street and make it a pet.

Jordan
Jordan
5 years ago

Pro tip: When I was moving my cats from Austria to Doha = 4 cats = price was some 4000 QR. Moving them back to Austria? Price is 13000 QR!!!

Maybe you should also check the prices various local veterinarians are asking for services like that and ask them why are they ripping off like that.

Simon
Simon
5 years ago
Reply to  Jordan

There was a very useful thread a month or so ago on this topic – mostly how best to avoid QA, in order to keep the price down.

Corbomite
Corbomite
5 years ago

Took back 2 cats a couple of years ago when my parents went back home. Took us 3000QR to process all documents.

ChaTo
5 years ago

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” — Mahatma Gandhi

Simon
Simon
5 years ago
Reply to  ChaTo

“We’re furked then, eh???” – – – Errol Flynn

Siling Labuyo
Siling Labuyo
5 years ago

I believe most expats are in Qatar for work. If that’s supposed to deter them from keeping pets then very very few rescue animals have a chance of being adopted. Many pets are fine being left at home for several hours as long as they have what they need — food, toys, litter, perhaps other pets they can play with, and if you ensure you walk your dogs regularly and spend quality time with your pets when you are home. I think it’s important to encourage and help people find ways to keep pets, and help give them the tools they need to do so, not just tick off points against potential adopters for issues that can be worked around. It’s also important for rescue groups to advocate with companies and landlords to allow their employees and tenants to keep pets in their accommodations. One of the main problems here is that many companies and landlords prohibit keeping pets in accommodations. Expats are often at the mercy of companies and landlords who would capriciously allow pets one minute and the next minute force tenants to dispose of their pets.

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