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  • Writer's pictureAnimal-Kind International

So much happening for animals in Somaliland

Since 2013, Ali Hassan, founder and director of Social and Animal Welfare Service-Somaliland, and I have been working on proposals, fundraising strategies, and ideas for animal welfare programs for SAWS. Although not an AKI partner organization, SAWS has made some impressive strides for animals in a country that's not the friendliest toward its animals. But they still have a long way to go.

Location of Somaliland

Since most people aren't familiar with Somaliland, here's some background according to the BBC: Somaliland is a breakaway, semi-desert territory that declared independence from Somalia after the overthrow of military dictator Siad Barre in 1991. Though not internationally recognized, Somaliland has a working political system, government institutions, a police force, and its own currency. The former British protectorate has escaped much of the chaos and violence that plague Somalia. During 2016, Somaliland celebrates 25 years of self-declared independence, but remains unrecognized as an independent nation.

Somaliland is still relatively undiscovered by tourists, but Alex from the Donkey Sanctuarty visited the country earlier in 2016 to see for himself the operational capacity of SAWS and to evaluate the extent of donkey welfare problems in the country. He visited working donkey areas and met donkey owners and their donkeys, as well. Alex's visit showed that Somaliland is a peacefull country, and other international animal welfare organizations are free to visit with no concern for their safety.

Alex, a visitor to Somaliland from the Donkey Sanctuary, UK

Alex from the Donkey Sanctuary visits with owners of working donkeys

Over the last few years, SAWS has received support from The Donkey Sanctuary and other animal welfare organizations to implement donkey welfare projects. Now, the SAWS mobile clinic is a familiar sight in the community where SAWS works (in and around Hargeisa, and some outlying areas, as well). When people see abused or wounded animals, they contact SAWS by phone.

In April of this year, SAWS received a report of a donkey who had been hit by a truck and had a broken leg. The SAWS mobile vet clinic team arrived to the area and instantly, the team treated the broken leg (pictures below).

Donkey with broken leg getting a cast

Donkey with broken leg is able to get around with the cast

While treating the donkey, a group of people told the SAWS volunteers that after the truck hit the donkey, the owner requested that the truck driver pay compensation for injuring his donkey. After some discussion, the truck owner agreed and paid $150 to the donkey owner. After the donkey owner received the money, he took his donkey to a remote area and dumped it like garbage, to remain there until it dies. But just after one day the donkey with the broken leg returned to the market exactly to the spot where the owner would feed the donkey after the work day! That's when a kind-hearted person contacted SAWS to help the donkey.

Even though SAWS is able to help many injured donkeys and to train donkey owners about improved care, the situation for donkeys is still very difficult. There are no laws protecting donkeys. Traffic accidents kill donkeys every day. There are no penalties for drivers who hit donkeys. No one has to take responsibility for these tragic accidents.

SAWS has requested that the local government provide lands for abandoned donkeys, where they can be placed and cared for, protected from traffic. This would also protect people from collisions with donkeys. And SAWS will continue advocating for improved care of donkeys and for animal welfare legislation, and will continue to treat injured and ill donkeys.

Injured donkey lying in the road in Hargeisa

Life for dogs in Somaliland is difficult also. Vet care for dogs, including spay/neuter, is very uncommon. Dogs roam the streets (see pictures below), get hit by cars, stones are thrown at them-they get no respect and no love. But on July 25, SAWS received some good news:

The UK embassy in Ethiopia refused a visa for the Borama city mayor who poisoned mass numbers of dogs in Borama city, local news reported.

SAWS appreciates and welcomes the decision of the embassy. Somaliland has no laws protecting pets, there is no penalty for anyone who kills or abuses an animal. Previously SAWS had condemned the systematic massacre of dogs committed by Borama local council members, who killed approximately 250 dogs. SAWS is advocating for the introduction of a policy and legislation that would make it illegal to abuse animals. SAWS promises to take the criminals behind the poisoning of dogs to the international court to be brought justice.

The refusal of the UK embassy to grant a visa to a dog killer makes a statement to the people of Somaliland--and beyond--that cruelty to animals in unacceptable and that the world is watching!

Dogs gather on the streets of Hargeisa

Spay surgery is almost unknown in Somaliland

This dog was hit by a car and the back legs are now paralyzed

Dog hanging out in Hargeisa

Dogs in Hargeisa

Dogs at a market in Hargeisa

Dogs at a market in Hargeisa

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