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.


5 comments:

Inrab70 said...

Sad state... pretty much the same all over the gcc except maybe UAE. Not the right place to be saying this but best wishes for the New Year and do blog more often!!

JDB said...

Thank you! You have explained why I have chosen to help thesse animals when they come to the US. People have asked me why I choose to help Kuwaiti dogs when dogs here need help. This post perfectly explains the lack of resources these animal heroes face every day, the horrendous conditions, and the lack of concern shown for animals in Kuwait. The people saving lives in Kuwait desperately need our support.

Unknown said...

What is the name of the brown dog , 1st picture

Desert Girl said...

Unknown 8:35: I don't know the name of the puppy in the picture. This dog was rescued and is on one of the social media sites for Become a Foster Guardian (BFG). If you are interested in either sponsoring (donating for) this dog or adopting him/her, please contact them. Thanks.

Bonbon said...

So disappointed to learn that this is still happening in Kuwait. We lived there from 2010-2012 and adopted a kitty from K's Path. It's so sad they closed, they did so much! They rescued, rehabilitated,educated, and organized beach cleanups....sending good vibes to those who do what they can for the animals there<3