The Plight of Bahrain's Strays
This AKI Blog post is by guest blogger, Carrie Spoores, about the work of Bahrain Strays (Dog Rescue). Thank you Carrie for the work you and the other volunteers are doing to help Bahrain's strays!
August 15, 2016 I moved half way around the world to teach at a private school in Abu Dhabi. While there, I agreed to foster a street cat by the name of Ginny. Ginny was FIV+ and desperately needed a home. In late September, Ginny moved in with me as a foster. Fast-forward to July 2017 and Ginny moved with me to Bahrain. My husband had been living in Bahrain for the last year working at the Navy base. We are now a family of three.
[Photo: Ginny enjoying the large window ledges to stalk the birds and bask in the sun! My husband had been living in a flat that did not allow pets, so he sought out villas that allowed pets so I could bring Ginny to Bahrain.]
When I arrived here in July, I noticed dogs and cats roaming the streets. The temps were 100-110+ degrees Fahrenheit. No access to food and no access to water. I was feeling rather anxious about this situation, so I got on Facebook and began requesting to be added to groups that help stray animals, particularly dogs.
[Photo: Stray pack in the 100+ temperatures]
Bahrain Strays (Dogs Rescue), caught my attention. The founder, Fathiya Al Bastaki, was seeking volunteers to assist with her daily feeding routes. I contacted her and chose an evening that I knew I could commit to every week. Every Wednesday evening we feed and water anytime from 4pm-9pm. An ideal evening would be to feed and water, spend some time giving belly rubs and visiting with the strays, but it never fails that Fathiya gets a call that a dog has been injured, abused, neglected, or even tortured.
[Photo: Founder, Fathiya Al Bastaki, has been providing food, water, and veterinary care to the stray dogs of Bahrain for five years.]
Bahrain is an island country of about 1.5 million people; most of the people are Middle Eastern with a rather large number of expats. Land area is 283 square miles. Among these islanders, are 18,000 stray dogs living on the streets.
Rescue groups in Bahrain face many issues. There is one BSPCA with limited funds that receives no government assistance. There are a number of rescue groups that receive very little assistance if any from the government. All are attempting to raise donations to save the dogs. Donations are few and far between. There are limited foster homes and due to high costs of exporting animals, many expats are unwilling, or simply cannot afford to adopt.
Another issue the rescue groups face is being able to feed 18,000 stray dogs. Many groups are looking to area businesses that would otherwise throw their scrap meats away from the meat departments. Many are asking for leftovers from restaurants and hotels, which again would throw away food.
[Photo: Bahrain's stray dogs]
The greatest battle is spaying and neutering. Government funds are not allocated for spaying and neutering, and again, we rely on donations. The population of stray dogs is out of control and continuing to grow at an alarming rate.
Another issue is veterinary care and enforcement of laws. Dogs are injured, mistreated, malnourished, and even tortured on the streets of Bahrain. Fathiya gets calls or Facebook messages regularly regarding sightings of abuse, neglect, and torture. People do not turn to authorities, because laws are not enforced. This step in the process takes time, and many feel they do not have the time, because the past has proven little action if any is taken. So, veterinary expenses due to the horrific act of sick individuals eats away at the little amount of funds these rescue groups have.
[Photo: This is not an uncommon scene in Bahrain. Animals are abused, neglected mistreated, tortured, and killed on the streets.]
Bahrain must realize and act quickly in the most humane way to get the population of strays under control. The stray dogs of Bahrain need a voice. Their voice can no longer be silenced.
If you can help, we would love to hear from you. www.bahrainstrays.com or on Facebook, Bahrain Strays (Dogs Rescue).
[Photo: Fathiya has written a number of articles about the issues of animal welfare in Bahrain.]