Thursday, August 29, 2019

Who is to blame for slaughter of stray dogs in Kuwait?

Arab Times, Kuwait, 8/29/19

A video clip of two men with what appears to be a dead mother dog and a BAG FULL of live puppies has circulated over social media in Kuwait.  According to today's article in the Arab Times (re-featured from Al-Anba daily newspaper in Kuwait), the Kuwaiti Government's Public Authority for Agricultural Affairs and Fish Resources (PAAFR) hired expats to kill strays.

PAAFR is responsible for strays in the country.

Stray dogs have been poisoned for months in Kuwait and rumors have cirulated as to who is to blame.

According to one Kuwaiti animal rescue group, since this article was posted today, PAAFR has denied any responsibility for hiring contract mercenaries to inhumanely kill the stray dogs in the country. 

I hate seeing this in the news and in social media.  I pray that the Government of Kuwait will care for it's international reputation and start a humane stray control program as in other contries.  Or at the very least, look into who is responsible for these unmerciful acts and stop them.

Poison and torture of strays should not be condoned in any civilized nation.




Monday, July 08, 2019

Justice for Winston: Import of Pets to Kuwait Often Ends in Tragedy

This is a re-post for a GoFundMe account.  Please see details below. 


Laila had been studying in Washington, DC, USA and was moving back to Kuwait with her two year old cat, Winston. She made sure to bring his completed paperwork (USDA IHC) from his veterinarian that stated he was healthy and approved for travel. Winston was with her at all times in the comfort of the cabin of the Lufthansa flight and not in the cargo.

When Laila landed in Kuwait, she went through customs smoothly and picked up all her bags from the baggage claim area until an airport customs officer stopped her and told her that she had to leave Winston at the airport so that he could get checked by the airport vet, as per legal requirements for every animal entering the country (despite USDA approval). They promised he would be delivered to her at the cargo terminal in 2 hours. She spent some time trying to convince them to not take him away from her and showed him all the paperwork proving he was healthy, but they wouldn't budge and said that this was the procedure for every animal that arrives the country.

She stayed at National Aviation Services (NAS) in the cargo terminal, for 3 hours until she was informed that Winston was missing. According to NAS, Winston escaped from his carrier after leaving customs to go to the “vet”; he jumped out of the transportation trolley, and ran away around the cargo area/landing zone. She knew how afraid Winston was of strangers, and the only person he was comfortable with was herself. Laila also knew what type of places he would likely hide in. She begged them to let her go to the area he escaped to but they refused, saying only people from NAS and civil aviation had access to the area.

Laila spent two nights and half a day begging managers and officials at the airport to let her through but they all refused. She was told that she would get security camera footage and that employees were searching for him, but all she got was empty promises. She even printed and distributed flyers throughout the NAS facility, with pictures of Winston and including a monetary reward for anyone that found him. After 3 days of trying to get through, Laila was informed by NAS that Winston was found dead from heatstroke. Laila retrieved Winston's body after 4 hours of waiting at the NAS’ facility.

Throughout this horrifying journey, Laila had discovered a smelly, dirty, and cramped hall where they kept “live animals” with no air conditioning in 114 F degree weather. In one of the rooms, she found Winston’s dumped pet carrier, even though she was told that they were using the carrier to lure Winston inside. She also met with the “vet” at NAS, who claimed that he has not had an animal come to his office in YEARS.

Winston was not the first pet to runaway and/or die in NAS’ facility according to several rescues and pet travelers. Laila is currently meeting with a lawyer with plans to sue NAS and obtain #JusticeForWinston and all the other animals that died under NAS' care.

Laila is an animal rescuer. She has been to several rescue seminars, interned at a well known rescue in Washington DC, and has fostered several kittens. She wants to save as many Kuwaiti animals' lives as she can in Winston’s name, under the “Winston Memorial Foundation”, but will need funds to do so.

This Go Fund Me campaign will not only help pay for legal fees in suing NAS, but also allow her to set up a foundation in Winston's honor so that no other Kuwaiti pets and pet parents go through what she endured. Further, Laila will continue the push for the implementation of animal right laws in Kuwait which is an ongoing issue that has not yet been resolved. This would raise awareness regarding the neglect and poor treatment of animals in Kuwait whether they are stray or handled and kenneled at NAS.

Please donate to our campaign to remember Winston, and to ensure no Kuwaiti animal ever dies in vain again. Thank you! With a heavy heart at the loss of Winston, we are seeking $15,000 to proceed with her mission and to seek #JusticeForWinston. Thank you, to all the animal lovers throughout the world, to all who follow Leila on Instagram @leya_and_winston and to all those who know that animals are worthy of being treated with respect and love.


Tuesday, July 02, 2019

Beware Importing a Pet to Kuwait

RIP Beautiful Winston


You may have heard the story by now of a Kuwaiti woman (@leya_and_winston) who brought her cat back to Kuwait from study in the States - in the cabin - only to have the cargo company (NAS - National Aviation Services) responsible for checking animals "loose" the cat and later find it dead?

 
Im fucking crying my ass off while i type this. Winston is missing. When we arrived Kuwait the officer stopped us at the airport and told us we needed to get a paper signed to get winston in kuwait (even though i showed him all the correct paperwork specifying winston is healthy and up to date in all his shots, ect). Since they are too lazy to accept the documents they made me sign a paper. As i picked up winston’s bag they stopped me and told me that he needs to go see a doctor at the airport to make sure hes not carrying any diseases and apparently thats what happens to all animals that arrive the country. I fought with them and begged them not to take him but the officers said those were the rules.

I waited for 3 hours and in the end they told me that he fucking ran away in the cargo on the way to the doctor. He ran away out in the open where all the planes and trucks are. Ive been crying screaming and hysterical ever since and im not authorized to go search for him. We begged the guards to let us in and we were able to scout the area but i wasnt allowed to leave the car. It’s currently 95 degrees and will continue to get hotter to 114 degrees . I am so devastated and destroyed. I dont know what else to say. I am charging my phone and will be back at the airport in a few hours. If you are in kuwait and can help please let me know. They wont even let me SEARCH FOR MY OWN CAT please if anyone has authority and can help please let me know this cat is my entire life please help me.

The cargo company, National Aviation Services posted this:

We regret the unfortunate turn of events with Winston.
We extend our deepest condolences to Ms. Laila and her family during this difficult time.
We are very sorry for their loss.
We are conducting an in-depth internal investigation into the matter.
People will be held accountable.
We will also be putting in place more stringent procedures under “FOSTER” rules to ensure this does not happen again.
To ensure higher safety standards for each animal in our care, we are creating a $100,000 fun – “Foster” towards improvement of animal care facilities at the airport.
We carefully handled over 700 household pets last year without incident. We understand that each animal is unique and precious.

 Apparently there has been a law implemented in Kuwait that if you import an animal to Kuwait, it must be taken to the cargo section (where there is no AC in 50c heat) to be checked by a Kuwaiti vet. Usually the wait time is 3 hours from what I hear. 

One of my readers sent me this:



"They MUST change how they treat pets in the cargo terminal!!
The new rule is sooooo stupid, how they force taking your pet from you when it travels in the cabin with you and take it to the cargo terminal to see the vet!
This is such BS and so unnecessary!!!
If the vet needs to check a pet, I think they should come to the main terminal to check the pet!
Every pet that comes in is healthy and has all of its shots or the airlines would not allow them to get on the flight!
People bringing in pets must also have an import permit.
In order to get the import permit you have to have proof that the cat is in good medical condition!"

A recommendation from an animal group in Kuwait (translated from Arabic - sorry):

1.       If you travel from Kuwait to any second country with your pick-up or bring you both inside the cabin or under the plane in a private animal cabin, make sure your papers are complete and meet all the requirements and conditions of travel To the country they're looking for.


2.       they bought a suitable size cage so that the animal can turn its breath and wear it with comfort and for those who stop its head do not hit the roof of the cage.

3.       make sure that the cage you are wearing is the type that is intoxicating in screws from every direction and the door is strong.

4.       Buy Cable ties in family supplies colors and sizes or ace hardware ace hardware they took the size to your cage.

5.       some cages are ready with holes from the sides and open the door other than of course the openings to mascara in screws you can put in the wire bond more protection for the cage or you can put additional holes in the cage via dere or the way I always follow it no N I don't have dere hottest precious on the air and press tricks the place where I fix the hole in the cage and with the heat I melt the plastic and be I have a suitable hole whether if the cage has holes or I need additional holes of course the cage orbit with ties The wires are in the house and to whom you deliver the airport after you have completed all the travel papers and procedures before they take the flying cage, lock the door from all sides in the wire links.

6.       Be at the airport three hours before the travel date so that you and the staff of the airport will be easily and without rush to you and the airport staff.

7.       if the aviation officer asks you to see the animal of you, be there and with him you open the cage with yourself and you are possessed by the animal and you enter it and screw the door is fair.

8.       the best to stay after you complete all the procedures and wait with your live at the flight counter to the last time to enter the plane you can tell the flight staff that you will not be waiting for the animal cage now you are waiting for me the last time to sit outside the plane for a while Especially long since Jonah has mercy and usually the staff are understanding and cooperative in this respect.

9.       when they take the cage from you take it down so that I go to the plane reached the transport employee and and it is fair to take care of the animal justice and what I offer to anyone i can hurt (normal workers or people put the cage with animals or Insist on them or open the door from the anchoring is necessary to lock the door in the wire links because it only opens in scissors) and also above that you have the worker give him a reserve to take care of justice.



My advice:  Unless you absolutely HAVE to (as in Leila's case), never import an animal to Kuwait.  Never never never.  And if you need further confirmation of this, refer to my last post on animal poisoning.


Dog Poisoning in Kuwait

Dogs are being poisoned in Kuwait in the name of pest control.   Strays are being taken to a location in Hawalli  fed rat poisoning and left on the floor to die in torture.  This is according to several sources who have stated that a private agricultural company has been contracted to round up the strays and kill them.  This is a country-wide initiative.


Dogs should not be considered pests.  

I don’t understand how a country with no division of “church and state” (meaning laws are tied to religion) that so many people including lawmakers don’t know their own religion.  The Quran is very clear on compassion to animals.  The hypocrisy is baffling.  Why torture animals in the name of “pest control”?  ALL the prophets kept dogs and were kind to them!  Man took parts of religion and threw away the rest to suit his own purposes.  To me, that is blasphemy.


حَدَّثَنَا إِسْمَاعِيلُ حَدَّثَنِي مَالِكٌ عَنْ سُمَيٍّ مَوْلَى أَبِي بَكْرٍ عَنْ أَبِي صَالِحٍ السَّمَّانِ عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قَالَ:

‎بَيْنَمَا رَجُلٌ يَمْشِي بِطَرِيقٍ اشْتَدَّ عَلَيْهِ الْعَطَشُ فَوَجَدَ بِئْرًا فَنَزَلَ فِيهَا فَشَرِبَ ثُمَّ خَرَجَ فَإِذَا كَلْبٌ يَلْهَثُ يَأْكُلُ الثَّرَى مِنْ الْعَطَشِ 

‎فَقَالَ الرَّجُلُ: 
‎« لَقَدْ بَلَغَ هَذَا الْكَلْبَ مِنْ الْعَطَشِ مِثْلُ الَّذِي كَانَ بَلَغَ بِي » 
‎فَنَزَلَ الْبِئْرَ فَمَلَأَ خُفَّهُ ثُمَّ أَمْسَكَهُ بِفِيهِ فَسَقَى الْكَلْبَ 
‎فَشَكَرَ اللَّهُ لَهُ فَغَفَرَ لَهُ .

‎قَالُوا يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ وَإِنَّ لَنَا فِي الْبَهَائِمِ أَجْرًا فَقَالَ نَعَمْ فِي كُلِّ ذَاتِ كَبِدٍ رَطْبَةٍ أَجْرٌ
‎صحيح البخاري 2323 / صحيح مسلم 2244


Information on the animal poisoning in Kuwait:

Change.org petion HERE

Article on protest HERE

Instagram @paws_kuwait



Thursday, May 30, 2019

Beloved Kuwait Radio DJ, Linda Lou, has passed away



Kuwait's former DJ on 99.7 Radio Kuwait, throughout the 90's, Linda Lou Al-Shammari, has passed away. 

I never met her in person, but she always helped me with causes behind the scenes and was always willing to do her best to help. She was married and lived in Jahra and had 2 daughters. Friends of mine helped her leave Kuwait with her children and move back to the States. She just silently disappeared from the radio one day. Everyone talked about why and what had happened for months to follow.

She was loved by many who grew up with her on the radio - often listening to her advice to "wear your seat belt" on their way to school.  Many actually heeded that advice and she may have saved lives because of it.

Linda died on May 27, 2019, atter a stay in the hospital.  She was surrounded by her family in North Carolina.

Her daughter writes

Our sweet mother Linda passed away yesterday morning. She fought hard since February 21st of this year. It has been a long, hard road for our family. She was an amazing mom and grandma, we could not have asked for better. We now have the most caring and loving guardian angel watching over us. We are reaching out with heavy hearts to ask for help to lay our mom to rest. There was a GoFundMe set up to help pay for medical bills, it is still open. Anything will help.



Linda's obituary (where you can leave your condolences): https://www.dignitymemorial.com/…/clayton-nc/linda-al-shamm…

GoFundMe site to help her family pay for funeral and medical expenses:  https://www.gofundme.com/f/helping-linds…

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

His feet brought her new purpose.... (Operation Hope)


This is a story about Sheryll Mairza of Operation Hope.

....His feet brought her new purpose....
By Joyce Wangui Ward

Can you imagine going to the store and coming out changing lives? Neither did She. This is her story.

Sheryll from Wisconsin had been store-hopping at a Kuwait mall as she couldn't find what she was looking for. She'd started getting frustrated and rather than being rude to the sales people, decided to look down as she walked away. 

Her eyes caught a very unusual sight. Feet with oversized shoes and no socks.  It was in the dead of winter.

She looked up in amazement and right in front of her was an Indian man. Conversation ensued. The man made pennies and could not afford to buy socks, fitting shoes or a winter coat

She got to her car and broke down. Then immediately called her husband and shared the encounter. They both went back, found the man and got him some winter clothes. They also found out that so many people were in the same predicament. So they decided to do something about it.

Sheryll  is a hostess with the mostest. She had been having parties at her home and so she decided than just meeting to have a good time only, do it for a cause. She shared with her friends and all agreed. That is how, her philanthropy- OPERATION HOPE- was birthed.

Every month, she throws a party at her home and friends come up with suggestions of the needs in the community and they raise money towards it.

Yesterday was my second time attending.

I will say this, HGTV and home decor magazines have nothing on her.  The pictures won't justice either as cannot capture ambiance. Everything is detail and season oriented. Easter was the yesterday's theme. 

It's not just her home, her heart is beautiful.

She is an incredible host. Her hugs and warm smile, her kind words and her beautiful prayers make me understand the POWER of finding your purpose.

She has been doing this for years and looking at her serve us seems like she just started it. She is exuberant, happy, excited and so eager that the ladies had to often remind her to sit and enjoy the brunch too. What a (S)hero.

As a student of the universe, I sit back and learn a few lessons.

  • You don't have to be a 501c or NGO to make a difference in your community. Be the change you want to see in the world today.
  • Marry someone who believes in your dreams. Sheryll's husband has been a part of her philanthropic journey that even yesterday he was the one helping in the kitchen.
  • Don't let them divide us with religion. Sheryll is a Christian and is married to a Muslim man and they work with and also help people from all religious backgrounds. We are stronger together than apart.
  • The only time you look down on a man, is when you're reaching out to help him up. Sheryll literally did this.
  • Surround yourself with people you are aiming to become. It keeps you grounded as you realize you haven't arrived yet.
  • Look good and Brunch on. You can still wear your pearls and give back. There's nothing wrong with having your shine as you share ( note to self) 


Way to go Sheryll. You are a great teacher to me

--- End ---




If you would like to know more about Operation Hope, please see:







Thursday, March 28, 2019

Untraining - A magical place of animal/human partnership




My friend, Amy Swope, wrote the beautiful, poetic post below.  Amy has worked with K9s for a very long time and has seen the good/bad/ugly of the working dog world.  She stopped, and started a rescue from the ground up in rural Virginia for dogs – many that are sent from Kuwait from horrific conditions.   See her Facebook site on https://www.facebook.com/BlueRidgeCanineServices/.  (Please donate if you can.)

She should also look into a career as a writer!

I virtually met Amy when she was trying to help get remaining dogs from being euthanized by Eastern Services – a K9 sniffer dog company who had lost their contract with KNPC and had started killing their dogs rather than returning them to the States.  She and local rescuers managed to get many dogs back to the US and re-homed.

When I read Amy's story below, it made me think of all the neveux dog owners in Kuwait and how so many have bought into the Ceasar Milan misconception of getting your dog to be submissive to the owner (and all the new, "trainers" who have popped up  recently with the same thought process) instead of being (as Amy says) "partners".  I remember taking my German Shepherd to get groomed in Kuwait.   He was approximately a year old and I was waiting in PetZone for our appointment.  Mikey (who, I now know will never get along with other dogs - just the way he is - and that's ok) was barking nervously.  A young man came over and started advising me on how to deal with Mikey (because the man had seen the entire Ceasar Milan collection on DVD) and then poked Mikey with the hissing noise.  Mikey turned his head to look at me for permission to bite (I wanted to agree, but just told the man to go away). Because Mikey and I ARE partners, sometimes a look is enough to understand each other.  He has trained me well.

Amy is a wonderful, compassionate, caring person and I love her perspective.   Read on….

______


There is something very specific that overcomes my heart when working with crazy animals. The genetic machines. Outliers of the animal world. The ones who don’t quite fit the domestic mold. Or broken spirits, tangled in the unnatural weight of society’s burdens. It is a moment that i call “untraining”. It took me 10 years of “training” to learn the art of untraining. It is the moment the animal lets go of its past experiences of human interaction. And when I let go of human expectations placed on the animal. And we jive in that sweet spot of mutual respect. That partnership where “dominant” and “submissive” melt back into the neatly packaged Caesar Milan marketing campaign. And where all the control devices for “training” fall into a suburban poop bag which then gets tied into a tight little knot and tossed into the Rubbermaid bin.

All of that is gone and we are back at square one. That point where we say, I won’t fuck with you if you don’t fuck with me... let’s work together... just like humans and dogs evolved to do. I was never a wolf, and the dog was never a human, so we will never relate to each other on those terms. Man is the provider of needs for the dog. Dog is the provider of protection for the man. We are companions. I am not his alpha, nor is he my human child. We are partners.

I’ve been bitten. I’ve been thrown from a horse. I respect both of those responses as natural for the animal and I know that somewhere I’ve crossed a boundary. I back up and analyze natural ways to renegotiate those boundaries. How can I help the animal believe that it’s in their own best interest to expand their world? That isn’t training - that is teaching. And it’s an art.

Ive been laying awake all night thinking of when i started as a K9 trainer living in South Africa. Thinking about how I missed the natural life I lived there, and how it affected the relationship i had with the animals I worked with. The lessons it taught me. You can’t control Africa. You can’t fit the wildness of it safely into a crime-free, safe suburb, best school district, corporate ladder packaged life. The only thing predictable is the lack of circumstantial control. In the USA, it is a giant inconvenience if an espresso machine at Starbucks is broken, making us coffee-less and 10 min late for our routine self-important life. Meanwhile in South Africa, an entire reel of overhead power lines get stolen, no one in 50 miles has power, and yet “a boer maak n plan”. Or as the military would say “adapt and overcome.”

I started learning to train working K9s using all of the traditional methods. But what I wasn’t prepared for was the untraditional genetics. Out of 500 dogs bred for work, maybe 1/5th would be strong enough to pass all the tests. They were tested in their totally raw genetic state, prior to any training. Would they work through a bomb blast? Would they bite and not let go, even when being beaten? Do they have nerves of steel, courageous hearts, and the pain tolerance of a Spartan? These anomalies sit and look at you with adoring eyes. They are like every other dog - but they’re not. A pinch collar will bring your 90 lbs pet Shepherd to its knees and it will respect that painful correction enough so the next correction will be barely painful but just a reminder of what could happen. Walaaa! Your dog is “trained”. But these anomalies say “fuck your training - I’ll see your pinch collar and raise you a shock collar.” And before you know it, you’re hanging a dog by a pinch collar while it’s holding onto a cement block and you pray it doesn’t let go (even though you want it to let go) because you know it’s going to bite you next. And I’m not exaggerating.

My years living as a K9 trainer in South Africa ended up being a nerve-wracking juxtaposition between the need to crush wildness into little broken pieces and glue it back together as a trained dog, and the understanding that you can truly never crush something wild. Not for real. In a moment of human weakness or error it will be wild again. And it will turn on the one who crushes it. This is often referred to as “coming up the leash.”

I was given my first horse in South Africa - he was a racing Thoroughbred that had injured his hock. I didn’t even know how to mount a saddle. We had a shitty relationship for a long time. I constantly tried to control him. Then one day I had a few beers, wrapped a dog leash around his halter, jumped on his back and rode him into the African bush. He saw an open cattle field and did what Thoroughbreds do - he tossed his head back and ran. I hung onto his mane with all of my strength. At the end of the field he approached the electric cattle fence and came to a screeching halt. I flipped over his head and landed hard. He nuzzled my face and nickered as if to say “wasn’t that fun!”

That’s when I learned. I still sucked at riding him, but I learned to love him, and all his wild. I read Pat Parelli’s book “Natural Horsemanship” and I read Karen Pryor’s “Don’t Shoot The Dog” and I never looked back.

Now when I get the chance to work with the weirdos, I can’t wait to get to the point of untraining. That magical place where we can have a partnership. Where the trust resides and the animal allows a constant flow of information and renegotiation of boundaries. Because the animal trusts that learning is safe and performs his tasks as part of a partnership. I learn from every dog I work with. Just like Africa, the only thing predictable about an animal is the lack of control we have over it. But boer maak n plan. When I can adapt and help an animal overcome - in that moment of untraining - then the teaching starts to happen. And i get that specific feeling that is reserved only for the moments that I feel my heart racing beside the heart of the thoroughbred, or my feet plodding beside the running dog pack. I don’t know what to call this feeling except oneness with the wild.


Friday, March 22, 2019

Expatriates struggle to make ends meet as hardship bites


Expatriates struggle to make ends meet as hardship bites
Kuwait Times
21/03/2019
By Chidi Emmanuel


It is always a solemn moment whenever Tina comes home and doesn’t see her six-year-old daughter Rosaline. “Life without her is just empty,” she said as she narrated her ordeal. According to Tina, life went from bad to worse when her husband lost his well-paid job last year. “Things became very hard for us. We could neither pay Rosie’s school fees nor get her a nanny. So we decided to send her to my mother in Ghana. My husband is just managing as a sales representative and I am working in a salon. To keep Rosie here (in Kuwait), we need at least a studio apartment, an affordable school for her, renew her residency, etc. These are luxuries we cannot afford right now. I miss her a lot,” Tina lamented.

In spite of the financial opportunities of living in Kuwait, foreign workers are struggling to cope with the high cost of living. Some expats are seeking ways to readjust to the harsh realities. These include moving to smaller apartments, sharing apartments, sending their families home and other cost-cutting measures. Another area that people find difficult are expenses related to raising children, as the overall cost of bringing up a child gets higher and higher every day.

With inflation at its highest level, driven primarily by rising housing and utility costs, a lot of expats said they spend more on accommodation and groceries these days. From Fahaheel to Salmiya, there seems to be an unusual trend as most newly-completed apartment buildings remain empty. In some buildings in Maboula and Sabah Al-Salem, caretakers (haris) are offering one month’s rent free in a bid to woo tenants. “I got a good bargain. At least the haris waived a month’s rent (KD 250) for me – that’s why we moved to Maboula,” said Ruth Kadri, another Ghanaian expat.

As companies struggle with slower business and authorities impose more fees on foreigners, Kuwait’s economy is losing some of its luster for expats who once flocked to the country. According to a recent report, the number of foreign workers dropped by around 0.3 percent in recent months. The good times for foreign workers in Kuwait, who for decades lived tax-free amid hugely subsidized utilities, may well and truly be over. The government has increased healthcare costs for expatriates. Unlike in the past, the health ministry is now passing the high costs of medical 
operations, equipment, medicines, laboratories and various medical supplies to expat patients.

Public hospitals and polyclinics in Kuwait are now collecting increased fees for services offered to expatriates. The new fees include KD 5 for visiting the emergency department at the general hospital; KD 10 for visiting outpatient clinics; KD 10 per day for inpatients; KD 30 for a stay in the intensive care unit (ICU); KD 50 for a private room and KD 200 as deposit, etc. As for maternity cases, KD 10 will be collected from patients per visit, in addition to KD 50 for a normal delivery.

A tax-free income is one of the key benefits of living and working in Kuwait, but with changing financial circumstances, some foreign workers have decided to leave Kuwait for good. Expatriate salaries and benefits used to allow people to live a luxurious life and still save. But over the past few years, spikes in costs have taken away the feel-good factor from their lives.

Adams has sent his family back to Canada. “Things are not the same anymore here. I really can’t cope with the high cost of living here,” he said during a sendoff party his friends organized for him. “First, I had to move from a three-bedroom to a two-bedroom and eventually to a one-bedroom apartment, but still there are school fees and medical bills to pay, which have skyrocketed over the last few years. At this point, I couldn’t manage it anymore, so I had to let them go,” he said in dismay.

Most expats in Kuwait are now forced to tighten their budgets as prices of commodities, medical fees, etc have gone up, with core living expenses such as housing, education, medical expenses and transportation fees showing no sign of going down. Eighteen years ago, Khalil Faisal left his family in Bangladesh to move to Kuwait. “My salary of KD 120 remained the same. I could manage then, but I can’t now because of the high cost of living. It is better for me to be with my family than to waste my whole life here,” he said before he left Kuwait for good a few months ago.

Another family forced out due to the financial crisis was of Ahmed Ibrahim. Just like Khalil, Ahmed said he could hardly save any money in the past three years. He had no other option than to relocate his family (wife and two teenage children) to Egypt, where he plans to open a business. “At least I can afford to pay the children’s school fees in Egypt,” he said.

Recent months have seen a surge in layoffs as companies cut costs. “I was told to quit as part of cost-cutting measures. I was a longtime employee of the company.” These are the words of Indian expat Sachin Sahaj, one among a number of expats who had their employment terminated last month.
According to recent reports, work contracts of 3,140 non-Kuwaitis serving in the public sector have been cancelled in recent months, Chairman of the Civil Service Commission (CSC) Ahmad Al-Jassar said. These contracts have been invalidated as part of the state’s policy of replacing expatriates with nationals in the government sector. The dismissed personnel served in various ministries, government departments and independent bodies. Jassar affirmed that these workers have been laid off in line with the state’s policy of Kuwaitizing jobs in the sector, as stipulated by CSC decision 11/2017, which exempted jobs in health sector.




Friday, March 08, 2019

Please vote so my friend can get a small business grant for her shelter to re-home dogs from Kuwait


Please vote for my friend, Amy's, business to get a small business grant from FedEx. Amy is one of those angels who helps re-home tortured, neglected, abandoned dogs from Kuwait to homes in the US. She started her kennel for this very reason. It's a simple task - just click after opening the link HERE Thanks!





There are a few rescuers in Kuwait that work with organizations in the US to re-home dogs.  Why the US?  Because the procedures are easier for pets to be sent there.  Wings of Love flies the dogs to points in the US and from there they are taken to several shelters (like Amy's Blue Ridge Canine Services and shelters in Baltimore, New York and Washington DC).  ALL of them need financial assistance.  All are run by volunteers.

Don't forget the rescuers in Kuwait!  They constantly need cat/dog food, old blankets and towels, cleaning items, and of course, cash ( goes towards medical bills for hurt animals). 




Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Security Alert – U.S. Embassy Kuwait - National & Liberation Days





Security Alert – U.S. Embassy Kuwait (Feb 19, 2019)

Location: Kuwait, countrywide

Event: Kuwait National and Liberation Days – February 25 & 26

The Kuwait National and Liberation Day holidays will be Monday, February 25, and Tuesday, February 26.  U.S. citizens should expect festive celebrations, large crowds, and heavy traffic congestion in downtown and waterfront areas.  There will be particularly heavy vehicular congestion and pedestrian traffic from early afternoon through the evening hours on and around the Gulf Road and in Salmiya.  In the past, local police have blocked U-turn lanes and intersections on Gulf Road, forcing northbound traffic to travel the entire length of Gulf Road to turn around as well as restricting travel in the blocks adjacent to Gulf Road.  Many celebrants engage in water gun fights, throw water balloons, and set off fireworks in the affected areas during these national holidays.   

Actions to Take: 
·          Avoid crowds.
·          Be aware of your surroundings.
·          Keep vehicle doors locked at all times.
·          Monitor local media for updates.
·          Carry proper identification, either your U.S. passport with current Kuwait visa or your Kuwait civil ID.
·          Carry a mobile phone at all times.
·          Contact Kuwait Emergency Services at 112 for emergencies.



Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Whats on in Kuwait Listings


What’s on in Kuwait


Sometimes it is difficult to find out what is going on in Kuwait – even for longtimers like me - because many events aren’t advertised, or perhaps aren’t advertised in English (where 2/3 of the population can understand what is written). 

I’ve tried to put together a comprehensive listing of listings that provide information in English on upcoming activities.  (In no particular order other than “good ones” and “those that really suck”.)

LiveinQ8 (e news for the Kuwait Expat) - http://livinq8.com/calendar.php


Kuwait International Fair (Mishref Fairgrounds) Events:  http://kif.net/

Kuwait Up2date:  http://www.kuwaitup2date.com/events/

248am.com Blog Events – (the blog also has “what’s on this weekend” events which is helpful.) https://events.248am.com/

Ladies Who Do Lunch In Kuwait Blog Things To Do - http://ladieswhodolunchinkuwait.blogspot.com/p/things-to-do.html

10Times (mostly industry conferences/events):  https://10times.com/kuwait
All Events in Kuwait - https://allevents.in/kuwait/all

And the losers are…..

Kuwait Tourism - http://kuwaittourism.com/events-calendar/  (Pretty updated format contains zero information.  Don’t waste your time.  I just put it out here to be facetious.)

Visit Kuwait - https://www.visit-kuwait.com/events/   Snoozefest.

Hala February – Seriously!  Is there anyone out there who can give me an annual listing of events during Hala February month?!  VisitKuwait.com and Kuwait Touristic Enterprises (the official tourism website of Kuwait) – you are both doing TERRIBLE jobs, year after year. 



If anyone has any listings to add, please feel free to let me know.

Thursday, February 07, 2019

Kuwait Souvenirs

From Ms. Kookie Colaso on Expat Mums in Kuwait group on Facebook:

"For all those who asks about souvenirs and mementos of Kuwait, there's a full fledged shop in the Souq (Grand Avenues) called FILS. They have absolutely everything. Magnets, tees, caps, key chains, mugs, mesbah, dhows, snow globes, and lots & lots more. Things are pretty reasonably priced too.  Try parking at gate 12 or 15"

Thank you, Kookie, for this post (and thank you to the owners of the FILS shop for their patriotic interest in promoting Kuwait).  I get asked by readers all the time where they can buy souvenirs from Kuwait and my stock response is to direct them to a little shop in Mubarakia which is hard to explain (very small, and I don't know the name of - you can see my dilema).  I remembered seeing FILS in The Avenues, but my memory aint what she used to be.  The shop is back in the souq section where the little Kuwaiti cafe restaurants are.

One would THINK that the great minds at Kuwait International Airport might have shops – you know, similar to Dubai or Qatar or many other countries in the world where they sell souvenirs of that country IN the airport.  Kuwait seems more interested in selling 5 kilo bags of Tang and cigarettes.  Is that how you represent?   Where is the national pride and identity, Kuwait?  C’mon!















Disclaimer:  As I've stated before, I don't get paid or receive any type of compensation for posts like these.  It is just a public service announcement.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

My Take on US Politics as an 'Murican



So, I hate Trump.  If you know me in "real life" my Facebook page is splattered with smack about Dump.  But I rarely comment on him on the blog (have I ever???  hmmmm.... don't think so).  I'm just so angry lately about how the shutdown is affecting good, decent, hard-working US government employees that I know.  

Can you imagine if the Government was shut down in Kuwait and people were forced to work for no pay?  Eeeeek..... I can't even imagine the mayhem....first of all, the US would start BMCing about "slave labor" (which is exactly what the US is now doing to our own government employees).  Hey Trump, read up on CTIPs and some of our other laws.  They're really great.

Trump is the Manchurian Candidate. He is destroying America piece by piece. The government shutdown is only his most obvious move, but just look at how much destruction he's already done: destruction of environment (don't even get me started about animals and how hunting is allowed on several species...) , deregulating pollution controls, creating tariffs that affect America’s farmers, dividing the country through racism, deregulating corporate regulations, possibility of pulling out of NATO,  pulling out of NAFTA agreements, etc etc....  And the lies:  one lie after another.  I HATE liars!

What does it mean to be a “Manchurian Candidate”?  “A Manchurian candidate is a person, especially a politician, being used as a puppet by an enemy power. The term is commonly used to indicate disloyalty or corruption, whether intentional or unintentional.”  The plot of the original book/movie is similar to that of the recent series, “Homeland.”

And throughout the past 2 years of one Trump-created crisis or scandal after another, what progress has been made in the US? There is not even a solid Administration.  Staff is terminated at whim or they resign because they can’t effectively do their jobs.  In any private business, that would be called management instability.  In this case, it is government instability.

(I saw a segment on this ONLY this morning on CBS... at least people are starting to discuss it....) So, while the government is shut down, there is a distinct lack of cyber controls on all our big systems.  Why?  Because the cyber guardians have been furloughed and aren’t allowed to go to work.  Who is getting in NOW as I write this?  Who is getting into TSA and other security agency IT systems? Can replacement staff be vetted? NO, because that control is shut down too.

Ironically, Trump wants to build a wall or hold America hostage, yet right now NO company/agency/organization can check any worker's nationality/immigration status because eVerify is shut down. Welcome, undocumented workers! Welcome criminals! Come on in. Set the US back a few decades.

What IS eVerify?  “E-Verify is a web-based system that allows enrolled employers to confirm the eligibility of their employees to work in the United States. E-Verify employers verify the identity and employment eligibility of newly hired employees by electronically matching information provided by employees on the Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, against records available to the Social Security Administration (SSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).”

I still find it REALLY hard to believe that some of my Kuwaiti friends with dual nationality (yeah, I know - there aren't supposed to be any, right?!)  voted for this chump.  I can't believe that other Muslim friends (and Muslim Americans) voted for this chump. I can't believe that El Cajon voted for the monkey (and that should have been a HUGE red flag).  Their arguments:   "He's good at business."  No he isn't and he's bankrupt all of his companies and bilked investors out of millions.  "He is good at foreign policy."  No, he isn't.  The rest of the world hates the US.    So the argument that everyone made against Hillary - that she hadn't secured the US Embassy in Ben Ghazi and the US Ambassador was killed..   Guess what there is LESS of under Dump?  US Embassy security!  

FAST FOOD served in the White House????  WTF.... I know that getting an invitation to the White House is a huge honor and those who do get invited are expected to show respect and attend. However, this "president" shows no respect for the dignity of his office. He shows no respect for African Americans or any other non-white, non-Christian, non-heterosexual human. So my feeling is - don't go. And then once they went, they were insulted with boxes of cold fast food? Again, they were shown no respect. I wouldn't go to anyone's home - regardless of the real estate - if I didn't respect them or if I had any slight indication that they would treat me badly once there.

Ok, I could go on and on but that's enough.  

I'm turning off comments because.... well shit because I can. 


Friday, January 11, 2019

Animal Abuse in Kuwait

Animal abuse in Kuwait is so rampant and horrific that it has been a major factor in making me want to leave the country for good - should I ever.  I'm not going to post any graphic photos - if you are interested in seeing photos of animals for adoption with their stories, please look up any of the rescuers social media accounts (and I have listed some below).




When I first arrived in Kuwait to work in 1996, I started trying to help animals.  I think the first one was a kitten suffering from dehydration and was hiding next to a curb on a heavily traveled street.  He didn't make it at the vets.  I wondered how many people had seen him and just driven by.

The next, I think, was when I heard a dog crying in pain from my desk at my office in Dhajeej.  It started, then stopped.  Other people in the office heard it too and did nothing.  I went to see what it was.  A security guard at a loading dock behind our building was keeping a 4-5 month old puppy entrapped under a commercial truck, in July, so that he could take the puppy out and beat him for his sick pleasure.  I crawled under the truck and took him to the vet.  He stayed with me for 2 weeks before I found him a home.  His new family took him to London.

Petunia (named because she constantly smelled like garbage) was my favorite semi-rescue garden/street cat.  She had her babies on my doorstep and I tried my best to help her.  She was an "outdoor pet".  She sneezed a few times and seemed to have lost weight and tried to get into my apartment to rest - I didn't give it much thought and I really wish I had at the time.  She disappeared with her kittens and it wasn't until several years later when our hariss was cleaning out under a shed that I knew what had happened.  I still feel guilty (tearing up while I write this).  You can only save so many.  I just feel like you have to give it your best shot.  RIP little, smelly girl.


There were many more after that.  "Rocky" was my last rescue with the help of (a rescue I will not name here) and a midnight snatch-and-grab rescue.  Rocky was a pittie that had been left outside my drug-addict neighbors' house on a 3' rope while the druggies went on vacation for a few weeks in July.  All of the neighbors were afraid of him.  I brought him food and water and pet the big lug (leading to hugs and kisses).  He had scars all over his back.  He was a lover, not a fighter, but someone had obviously tried to make him into one.  If I didn't already have a big territorial dog at home, I would have Rocky now.  He went to a loving family who will eventually take him back to their home in Texas with their other family pit bulls.

I digress, as usual:  The only animal rescue at that time (1996-7ish) was PAWS.  They had about the same amount of resources that I did.  Everyone who was an animal lover in Kuwait just did what they could and tried to network by phone.  There was no social media.  There was very limited internet/e-mail.  (Yeah, ancient history - can you imagine?).

PAWS tried to create a shelter at IVH, but it morphed into a commercial venture and the PAWS organization separated.

KSPATH (formerly Animal Friends League) emerged from there.  Ayesha Al-Humaidi was an animal warrior and had returned from University in the States to do good.  She was on a mission. I can't remember if she was already married to her husband, John Peaveler, or not, but the two of them set out to rescue and educate.  (And education is, I believe, the solution to animal abuse in the country.  Or at least to decrease it.  But unfortunately, most rescuers are too busy putting a bandaid on the solution for such a large wide-scale undertaking.)

More grass-roots rescues have started since then and with the help of the internet, people are able to readily share information and help reunite pets with owners or rescue animals in need.

The internet, however, has been an emotional stresser for many of us who love animals.  I can't make a good determination if the abuse in Kuwait is getting worse, or that it is more readily reported and shared.  What I have seen turns my stomach.  Many who feel the same way as I do have had to unfollow accounts or turn away from the graphic images.  I think the last one that I could bear that made me turn off one account was a dog named Paul who had been buried alive along with 2 other dogs in the desert in Jahra.  He was the only survivor.  The video footage of the look of sheer terror in his eyes was something I can't burn out of my memory.

Where do these animals come from?

Street cats multiply.  Some of the rescues do TNR (trap, neuter, release) to control populations.  It is humane and animals are sent back out to live out their lives in their colonies.

Caucasian Dog
However, dogs are another story.  It has become "moda" or a fashionable trend in Kuwait to import and own high-end, even exotic breed dogs.  Most people never research them; buying off the internet as you would a Prada bag.  Only the "returns" system isn't quite as easy.  The novelty wears off.  The kids get tired of playing with "it" (as the animal seems to be more like a thing than a living being with a soul and feelings.)  The owners haven't researched a breed (like beautiful Huskeys which are difficult to train, highly loyal to only a few people, require a LOT of exercise and indoor air conditioned accommodation).  Some idiots are even importing Caucasians and Tibetan Mountain Dogs.  These breeds both grow to approximately the size of a small pony, have several coats of thick fur (NOT appropriate for the extreme high temperatures in Kuwait), and can be extremely aggressive; as they are bred to herd cattle in the mountains.  I have seen photos of dozens of Caucasians chained in the desert  with no shelter by breeders.

And then they become strays...

Once the understanding of how much responsibility it takes to raise a dog sets in, most likely they will be dumped.  (And then there is the monster who wins my absolute disdain:  The educated expat who leaves and dumps their family pet.)   A rescuer won't be called.  Someone will drive the dog out to the desert (maybe to Kabd or to Wafra) and just let it out of the car and drive off.  These areas are FULL of  starving, neglected and abused designer dogs from Yorkies to Huskeys to German Shepherds and more.  Don't believe me?  Take a drive up to Kabd at dusk into some of the back alleyways.  Oh, and bring some dishes, dog food and water with you if you have compassion for animals.  You'll need them.

What is the Government solution to strays in the country? 

There are no official shelters in Kuwait.  No humane euthanization.  The Government puts out rat poison which gives the dogs and cats a slow, very painful, completely inhumane death.   There is no public notification (just incase your child or your pet may be playing in the area.)  Or stray dogs are shot.  Private citizens also are known to shoot stray dogs, usually leading to maiming, but not immediate (humane) death.  (The UAE in contrast has much stricter, more humane laws governing animals, including a recently-introduced law making it illegal to abandon animals.)

Unscrupulous Breeders and Puppy Mills

Another trend in Kuwait is breeding dogs and selling them for money (which is ironic as the Holy Quran actually states that it is haram to sell dogs).  Authorities have not cracked down on kennels in the country on land where people are supposed to be raising farm animals.  Some of these kennels are indeed professional and meet or exceed international standards.  K9 sporting events are held in Kuwait now and respect is growing from the international breeding community.  However, many unethical "kennels" (cage farms, really) are run by people who give little or no care to dogs other than what their offspring can produce (in other words, hot, sandy, desert puppy mills).  Life expectancy is very low.  Most puppies don't receive proper vaccinations, so diseases like Parvo and Distemper are rampant.  Puppies are also taken away from their mothers too soon to build their immune systems. The lack of proper care at a young age causes most to die and/or diseases to spread.

Further, there is ZERO regulation (laws)  governing dog kennels in Kuwait.  ZERO inspection.  Why? Because they're not supposed to BE there.  So, puppy mills and legitimate breeding kennels are all operating illegally and can be closed down at any time by the Government on an inspection or raid.

On another note - So what about boarding kennels?  Who is licensed?  Is my dog safe there?
The ONLY boarding kennels that are licensed in Kuwait are the ones affiliated with (and directly located within) veterinary hospitals.  To the best of my knowledge, there are TWO:  International Veterinary Hospital (IVH) and Royal Animal Hospital (RAH).  RAH's kennel is very small and is mostly for recovering pets.  IVH will allow you to tour their kennel to see where your pet will be kept (dogs and cats) and discuss food and exercise schedules.

Be very careful where you board your dog. NONE of the commercial kennels in the Kabd/Hejen area have licenses. None have signage for this reason because they are working on the down low.  (Why?  Because Kabd/Hejen is not zoned for commercial use.  It is a farming area for livestock; divided into sections for camels, horses, sheep and goats.)   

Who cares for your dog?  Today  a maid and driver, tomorrow "kennel technicians - highly qualified and trained to care for your pet."  What happens if your pet becomes sick or injured?  What happens if one of the other dogs at the kennel is vicious and attacks your dog?  What happens if another dog is infectious (parvo is a quick killer and very infectious).  What happens if there is a tick infestation?  Or a scorpion or snake happens to get into a kennel and bites a dog (you have 20 minutes or less to get the dog to a vet in some cases).  What happens if the kennel is flooded or if there is a fire? A few years ago, a champion German Shepherd (probably one of the finest and best trained dogs in Kuwait) died of a scorpion bite while inside one of the better boarding kennels in Kabd.  Things happen.

Rescuers

ALL RESCUERS IN KUWAIT ARE VOLUNTEERS - RELY 100% ON DONATIONS.

PAWS is still working hard to help rescue/treat/re-home animals.  KSPATH, very unfortunately, has closed (and I'm still very very angry about that because they were the ONLY rescue in Kuwait with a license and assistance from the Government).  So now most of the rescuers who actually have a physical location (not just inside their homes) to keep/treat animals are small and struggling.

Abdulaziz Zaatari, President of the Committee for
Animal Protection and Its Environment
To make it harder for them, naysayers  have publicly stated that these rescuers are pocketing money meant for animals, "...most use donations for themselves."  As recently as this past week, a government official, mentioned in photo to the right, went on television and stated this!  (Name translated - I hope it is correct.) I don't believe that anything could be further from the truth.  I believe this gentleman should look into Government-run humane animal shelters and rescues.

Ok, so for me, I've been in Kuwait 23 years.  I've met most of these rescuers (never seen Mr. Zaatari).  Most of the rescuers are women; women who don't spend money on physical appearance.  They don't spend their money on fancy cars or make-up or the salon.  They spend their paychecks buying animal food and on veterinary bills or for paying salaries to animal care-takers.  They spend their free time driving around the Friday Market in search of discarded, sick, maimed animals - that are often literally thrown into trash bins to die. Or trying to educate shop owners/workers to end the abuse at the market.  Day in and day out they see torture and go out the next day to help more; at the peril of their own mental well-being.  Most are fierce defenders of helpless creatures (animal warriors).  They don't ask for or get recognition. It isn't about that.  They don't care who they offend.  It is all about helping an animal that needs them.  A thankless task that goes overlooked and unpaid (and this week like many - insulted).

Several of the local Kuwait rescuers have teamed with international animal organizations - and more power to them!  (For example:  World Animal Guardians - WAG US 501(c)(3) Nonprofit Organization.  See LINK HERE on Facebook or Wings of Love - also Nonprofit LINK HERE.)  They use the network to get donations; NOT for personal gain, but to help more animals or to get funds to ship animals outside of Kuwait where they might have a better chance of survival.

One rescue posted this, this week:

"Financial Statement January 2019.

Some people say we only care about money. For us, they say, “animals are money.” Last night, for example, we sent 9 dogs and 29 cats to the USA - our biggest shipment yet!

310 kd : price of ticket for person travelling 
1600 kd : price of 29 pets travelling 
40 kd : plates and blankets 
290 kd : crates  (DG note:  My dog crate cost 140KD - S$462 in Kuwait.)
187 kd : vaccination books and microchips 
80 kd : export permits 
67 kd : screw worm certificates 

...Not to mention the cost of caring for 88 cats and 31 dogs here in Kuwait . . . rent for the (physical rescue housing) and salary for the man who works there . . . food, cleaning products, vet bills . . ."


And these rescues collect strays and ship them for a better life ALL.THE.TIME.  You see them lining up crates of cats and dogs at the airport to transport out.  And there are volunteers on the US side waiting to pick them up, transport them, house them, and hopefully find loving homes.

I've posted the below before, so if you can spare cash donations, dog or cat food, blankets, towels, cleaning supplies or if you or your almost-adult children can volunteer, I implore you to make a difference.  (Please share this list with friends who can donate/help or people who have found a hurt animal.)

(Note:  Mimi is closing her rescue, but she still has animals for adoption.)

And if any rescuer would like me to post stories or requests (anonymously or not), please write to me at amerab@gmail.com.  I'm happy to help.