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Monday, April 19, 2021

Qatar animal shelter struggles to cope as police drop strays at its door

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

As it struggles to handle an influx of abandoned animals during the summertime, Paws Rescue Qatar (PAWS) said it now faces an additional challenge of serving as a drop-off point for animals rescued by security forces.

The shelter, located on a private farm in Muaither that is owned by a government official, has taken in over 50 dogs in the past week, most of whom have been dropped off by policemen who picked the animals up from the streets, the group’s management said.

Speaking to Doha News, PAWS co-founder Alison Caldwell said:

“We’ve had five dogs dropped off by the police just last night, and get new ones almost every morning from either the police or the ministry.

Before Eid we took in 26 dogs, and in the few weeks since then, we’ve taken in 23 more, excluding the five from last night. We’re completely at capacity, with over 200 dogs where we once had 140.”

Lack of funding

The influx of animals poses a particular problem due to a lack of funding, Caldwell said.

“We are not supported at all by any organization or governmental agency. The sheikh whose land we keep our animals on was kind enough to allow us to use the premises for free, but aside from that, we pay for everything.

PAWS team drop offs
PAWS team drop offs

He has a kind heart, so ministry officials who know him think that it’s alright to bring in animals that they’ve found or rescued here, but we have no idea what to do with the amount we are getting in anymore.”

Each month, the shelter spends some QR20,000 on food alone. Costs also include medical bills for vaccinations, medications and surgical procedures.

Most of the animals, Caldwell added, come in sick, diseased, unvaccinated and un-neutered, leaving PAWS and its team of volunteers and founders to bear the costs associated with nursing them back to health.

“We spend money to get them healthy, then spend money to keep them with us and then spend money to help relocate them outside of Doha. We have good relationships with vets here, but the costs are still high.

The government vet usually doesn’t have the vaccines and medicines that we need, so we have to depend on private services,” she said.

Solutions

According to Caldwell, the most pragmatic and straightforward solution would for the government to open a pound where rescued animals could be held until they are adopted or relocated.

However, she said that the relevant parties have been unresponsive to this idea.

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

“At one point the police were catching dogs and either euthanizing them or dropping them off to the Industrial Area. They need a shelter up and running.

We’ve told them that if it’s a question of management, that we would come in and run the place, but there doesn’t seem to be any interest in taking this step.”

Another idea is for the government to provide a stipend of around QR10,000 per month, which would help mitigate the high monthly costs associated with feeding and taking care of the 200 dogs.

In the longer term, other measures could be taken, she said:

“Ideally, we would like import licenses for dogs to be stopped for at least a year. That would help us get on top of the problem. As of now, we have over 20 Huskies with us.

These are animals that don’t belong in this country or this heat, but people keep bringing in more and more of them. If we had a year where no new animals were imported, aside from ones moving in with their owners, that would really help everyone here,” she said.

Widespread problem

Because they are run and funded on a volunteer basis, animal shelters in Qatar often face operational and capacity struggles, especially during the hot summer months.

This year, a drop in oil prices and subsequent mass exodus of newly unemployed expats from Qatar has only exacerbated the problem.

Speaking to Doha News a few months ago, Kelly Allen, one of the founding members of the Qatar Animal Welfare Society (QAWS), said:

“It’s a really difficult situation…All we can recommend is that (residents) 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.”

Doha cats Oliver and Pip.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Residents looking to help organizations like PAWS and QAWS are encouraged to donate food, take in animals on a foster care basis, or help pay portions of medical and rental bills at various shelters around Doha.

For its part, the government has been working to build its own shelter for stray animals, saying that their current, temporary shelter in Nuaija was at capacity.

The shelter, located in Umm Salal, will be built by the Ministry of Environment on 3,000sqm of land, and will include some 120 kennels. It is expected to open this December, though no updates on the project have been given.

Thoughts?

24 COMMENTS

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MIMH
MIMH
5 years ago

If government officials feel it is ok to drop animals off at PAWs they are officially endorsing it and should also provide funding for it to continue its activities.

thedrizzle96
thedrizzle96
5 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

They’re not really government officials are they, acting in an official or endorsing capacity, but then again assumption and opinion are the biblical tools of the troll

MaggieT
MaggieT
5 years ago
Reply to  thedrizzle96

The animals are brought to the shelter by the Police and many also come direct from the Government vet if a policeman or government vet is not a government official them I wonder who is?

thedrizzle96
thedrizzle96
5 years ago
Reply to  MaggieT

Someone who is responsible for the running of the government or country vs. an employee of the government, I would imagine. The flip side of this argument is a positive one, that police are now aware of PAWS and are bringing animals in that in the past would have been put down, it’s a false argument, obvious from the source.

Jones
Jones
5 years ago
Reply to  thedrizzle96

I agree it is good they are aware and it is nice that they care to try and help the animals. It is sad that the facility cannot get enough funding, hopefully something will work out.

thedrizzle96
thedrizzle96
5 years ago
Reply to  Jones

Ya it’s tough, on one hand attitudes change which is good for business for such an organisation, but they’re facing challenges keeping up, which is sort of the nature of this type of work.

MIMH
MIMH
5 years ago
Reply to  thedrizzle96

Maybe the government officals can put 2 and 2 together and realise a small amount of funding each year for PAWS, say only 200,000 QR, (less than what they spent on one lunch event at a 5 star hotel) will help solve the stray animal problem in Qatar.

The Reporter
The Reporter
5 years ago

Been there and seen the dedication and compassion that they have for the abandoned animals – and the reward for their benevolence is that PAW’s becomes the dumping ground for any animal thrown out of it’s home onto the street and/or because it’s a cheap and easy solution for the authorities. There has to be some better education of incoming expats, and nationals, and perhaps control to change the general attitude to animals (including African wildlife) that is prevalent in Qatar. If PAWS is part of the answer then for heavens sake give it some proper funding.

Catalea
Catalea
5 years ago

It’s sad to think that kind of issue has to make it on the news for people to be aware of how big the problem is.
With proper education & awareness, and with some compassion, we would have never been here 🙁
Will definitely drop by to donate ! Is there any way to know the exact location of the shelter ?

PawsRescueQatar
PawsRescueQatar
5 years ago
Reply to  Catalea

Hi Catalea,

Any help is more than welcome indeed. You could find location and more information on our facebook page :

https://www.facebook.com/PawsRescueQatar?fref=ts
and even make directly a donation through our website. http://paws-rescue-qatar.com/donation/

Many thanks by advance

Ilda Jackmakian
Ilda Jackmakian
5 years ago

Don’t get me wrong, the people running these shelters are doing an extraordinary job. Yes, the costs are extremely high but are mainly due to the unreasonably high vet bills!!! What I don’t understand is why use the private clinics and not the government vets for routine surgeries, treatment, vaccines, etc??! It would be much easier to get the government vets to provide the missing meds and vaccines than for them to open a pound. I am not saying that the ministry and the animal resource dept. Don’t have to assume their responsibility towards helping the stray population etc. But in the meantime, this would help save out on costs until more help in terms of funding and space is provided

MaggieT
MaggieT
5 years ago

The Governmwnt vet does help to some extent with a limited set of procedures. They won’t do anything complicated which means that broken legs won’t be operated on for instance. They will not accept the volume of vet work these shelters need. Many vet practices help where possible with fees but they are still high. Anyone who has a pet here knows the extortionate cost of everything to do with animal care whether it be grooming, treats, bedding or essentials like food and vet fees. The shelters expenses are high due the the sheer volume of animals they care for. Why not go along and volunteer at one of the shelters so you can see for yourself how dire the situation is.

Melda Ozel
Melda Ozel
5 years ago

Government vet has three veterinarians that we closely work with. Their shifts are about half a day. One of the vets there spend quite a bit of time in our farm. They only have rabies vaccine there, we still have to provide all the vaccinations, deworming tablets, tick and flea sprays, you name it. We obviously do not take our dogs or cats to any veterinary surgery for these simple things. We have a qualified nurse working full time at the farm. Government vet doesn’t have many of the modern diagnostic tools the other vets have, and they themselves are not happy about it. All in all government vet is not more than a handful of underfunded individuals trying to cope with a huge problem. So, I am afraid you are very wrong in assuming going to government vet will fix all our problems magically.

terri watson
terri watson
5 years ago

No one should get a free ride. PAWS is making Doha a better place for the citizens and the animals, the government should be part of the solution, not the problem. The suggestions made by the PAWS co-founder are solid solutions but need Qatar’s support, action… nothing less than that … and now, not in three years. It is the humane thing to do. Villas vs cages

Jones
Jones
5 years ago

They really need to put more restrictions on the animals being brought in for sell. No huskies, no malamutes, etc.
i hope that they get more financing or someone out there decides to open a new shelter.
Wish them the best.

Saali
Saali
5 years ago

I wonder why the people bringing the animals to Qatar, while the temperature and weather here is not suitable for those animals, If it is possible the God himself create them here…!!!

MIMH
MIMH
5 years ago
Reply to  Saali

No God was busy creating parastic worms that bore into the eyes balls of children driving them blind…..
Dogs and other similar mamals do exist in Arabia naturally, read up on some natural history.

Grantley
Grantley
5 years ago

Private vet practices could do more to help. Each private vet practice could open on a Friday on rotation to deal with stray animals whether it be spaying / neutering, other operations or simple vaccinations. It would hardly make a dent in their massive profits and would go such a long way to control the breeding of stray animals and alleviate the burden on the self-funded animal welfare groups. Vets are supposed to be concerned with animal welfare
however their prime motivation seems to be profit. The cost of treatment
for even the simplest thing is exorbitant and it is no wonder that some people do not want to take strays to the vet because they know they will be faced with a huge bill for an animal that does not belong to them. So come on private vet practices, get your finger out and help us instead of seeing dollar signs when we walk through your doors.

Siling Labuyo
Siling Labuyo
5 years ago

I wish the government could regulate veterinary fees as well. The extortionate costs of vet care for animals makes it extremely difficult for many owners to keep pets and deters the adoption of many homeless animals. Qatar Veterinary Center is one example, where the cost of vet consultation alone costs a whopping QR270!!! It’s mind-boggling how veterinary clinics could profess to be concerned about the issue of homeless animals in Qatar, but at the same time charge exorbitant rates for animal care. Same goes for Qatar Airways which recently even raised its already exorbitant rates for transporting pets. If they really want to reduce the number of homeless animals, then bringing down their rates would be the best way to allow many people in Qatar to adopt and to take their pets with them when they leave Qatar.

Grantley
Grantley
5 years ago
Reply to  Siling Labuyo

Couldn’t agree more. Vet practices should hang their heads in shame.

Verity Rosewarne
Verity Rosewarne
5 years ago

Shame the government doesn’t put even a hundreth of the effort and money into the rescues that they are putting into the world cup which will no doubt end up a complete farce for many reasons. I dread to think how many billions of QR they are spending on that – and they can’t/won’t give what would be in comparison be a minute amount to completely fund all the shelters???!!! They wanted the world cup to ‘change’ peoples idea/misconception of Arab States – well they would go along way to doing that with more compassion, support and input to the dog overpopulation and how they treat animals. As in Dubai, it is invariably the expats that clean up and deal with the country’s mess. Shameful!

outdoorsboys
outdoorsboys
5 years ago

There are some fantastic vets here in Qatar, Parkview Practice for one which supports 2nd chance rescue. I agree fees are high, but so are costs for well qualified professionals and qualified staff. Vets earn a living too and it is not acceptable to suggest that the medical teams should bear the costs caused by the inadequate response by Government to the nations problem. I am not a vet, I don’t work for one, I just spend a fortune in them.
Strays, when left at a shelter by the authorities should have central funding following them to pay the costs of medication, spaying/neutering and housing. The issue of animals imported here from the puppy mills around the region and beyond should be halted. Many such animals arrive with suspect certification, carrying disease- and many go straight to owners who have one thing in mind- breeding to sell online, mostly through Facebook.
Finally, I would call for pet registration, with a small fee and a requirement to document the location of the pet when the owner leaves the country. Very Big Brother, yes, but the number of animals dumped by people leaving- often just to go on holiday- is unbelievable. It has to be addressed.

Amber
Amber
5 years ago

I think the issues is these people abandoning their pets. Qatar needs to develop a system where people have to register their dogs and if they leave the country they have to show proof that they have placed their dog/cat in another home or the the dog/cat is with them.

In my area I have seen an influx of stray dogs walking around. They are are quite friendly but you can tell they are hungry and need a home. I’m even seeing pure bred stray cats like rag dolls and Persians around my around. It is quite clear those kitties were house cats at one point.

They can build 100 shelters but the core of the issue are these irresponsible pet owners.

Scarletti
Scarletti
5 years ago

sad how self-proclaimed as ‘the world’s richest country’ is so bankrupt when it comes to animal welfare – a drop in the ocean for the state to fund this !

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