Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Al Watan Interview with Manu Tague, Chairperson for PAWS

1- Do you think Kuwait is a pet-friendly society?

This is a very difficult question which can’t be just answered with yes or no.
When PAWS started the work of animal welfare and rescue

in 2003 it was an urgent needed task in this country, because it looked like nobody felt responsible to take care of all the abandoned, abused animals in Kuwait. Kuwait has currently thousands of stray and feral dogs and cats.

So we have to ask why could this happen? Why the streets are full with cats, long haired, short haired, mixed breeds? The answer is easy…People abandoned…why are the industrial areas and farm areas full of dogs, pregnant, banded together in packs, suspicious about people?...people abandoned….

It always starts with buying an animal, breeding animals, realizing there is too much work, too much commitment or other reasons to keep an animal for the rest of its life, so people unfortunately have abandoned and still abandoning a lot of their pets in Kuwait.

The majority of those abandoned pets are not spayed or neutered. If they survive the traumatizing experience in this hostile climate for at least a couple of weeks or months, they do what mother nature ask them to do, they start breeding and multiply as much as possible. Kuwait really never took care of this impacting issue, a humane stray control program never happened in Kuwait. Many countries with less financial sources implemented those programs with the help of WSPA or PETA or other experienced animal welfare organizations long time ago.

So PAWS realized, if the government was not taking care of this poor souls, engaged, passionate people have to do it, and so PAWS started their work. PAWS Kuwait had and has a vision to increase numbers of ethically responsible people living with a deep sense of purpose for the betterment of society and the sustainability of our environment.

We are encouraging the process of building a society wherein humans and animals can coexist peacefully beside each other on a long term.

PAWS is proud having currently a lot of Arabic, Kuwaiti volunteers, they are working with passion and commitment, they realize what has to be done…we started 2003 with westerners only, so things changed already.

We see us as an ignition for animal welfare in Kuwait, we think that it is up to the Kuwaiti citizens now to do the next necessary steps. We all know that there are a lot of topics to improve in Kuwait, let’s just list some:

Dog fighting, Illegal import of exotic and endangered species, breeding without any standard and control, animal abuse, animal abandoning, cruelty without legal punishment, no humane stray control programs, no education in Arabic curricula about respect and ethical treatment of animals, etc…

Kuwait is full of good people who love animals, we couldn’t exist without them, and they are my hope for the future, they will convince their government that certain laws and rules have to be set up and applied, this is an essential step towards an animal friendly society.

2- Kuwait has a large number of street cats. Tens get hit every day by cars and trucks. Is there anything we can do to limit their numbers in the streets? please explain

The only way to control those thousands of stray cats is to implement Humane stray control programs and education.

I give you a simple example : Imagine you have 2 healthy cats, one female, one male. Imagine that none of their babies would die and they would breed among each other, what they actually do. 2 cats could produce more than 10 thousand cats in 6 years, statistically. We all know that this number is too high, but imagine just 50 % would survive!

We have to fight 2 problems : people have to stop abandoning animals and people have to spay and neuter. There is no excuse of breeding by accident, Kuwait is full of unwanted, unneeded cats and kittens, hundreds and thousands of them are sold every day on the most terrible Friday market, too young, too sick, to weak…but people buy an animal in a special mood, maybe the kids are asking and crying to get a sweet friend for life. But what is about the next day, when the excitement of having a nice fluffy kitten is over…cleaning, feeding, sickness, attention, scratches on the sofas, time, love, ..commitment…this is the moment a lot of animals are kicked out on the street, traumatized , sometimes abused before or after their abandoning.

If people continue abandoning and don’t show responsibility, then the government has to step in. The government could apply punishment by law, could set up hurtful penalties, could start to educate people, could start to register and control breeders and importers. People need to understand that it needs a certain responsibility to deal with living creatures. They are no plastic trash u can throw in the streets when you don’t need it anymore. They are living creatures; they feel pain, fear, hunger, thirst and desperation. We have not the right to use them for our amusement and benefit only.

Holy Prophet Mohammed, peace be upon him, said about those people:

قال رسول الله (ص) ، ّلما أبصَرَ ناقًة معقولًة و عليها جِهازُها ، : أينَ صاحبهُا ؟ مروهُ َفليَستَعِدَّ غَدًا للخصومة

Bd. 7, S. 276). Or he saw a tied up camel without food and water and he said:

أين صاحبُ هذه الرّاحلة ؟ ألا تتقی الله فيها ؟ إمّا أن تعلَفها و أمّا أن ترسلها حتّی تتبغي لنفسها

Holy Prophet Mohammed, peace be upon him , talked about people who were abusing animals:

: عنه (ص) َلعَنَ اللهُ مَن مَّث َ ل بالحيوانِ

„The curse of Allah meet the person who mutilated an animal.“

3-Do you think we need more laws to regulate pet-trading in Kuwait? Friday market, sales stolen pets, as well as wild and dangerous animals that cannot be classified as domistic such as cheetahs and other breeds of monkeys. What is your take on this?

Since PAWS exists we are fighting to close the Friday market down. I am 10 years in Kuwait and I always avoided to go there although I had to from time to time. The conditions for animals are shocking there. Birds are forced together in tiny cages, the stress makes them apathetically or screaming unceasingly. Kittens and puppies are sold in cages mostly outside of the shops in high temperatures, the metal mesh is cutting in their paws, this is the reason they are lying down, not because they are relaxed. The puppies and kittens are usually much too young to be sold, but the breeders snatch them from their mothers to make profit as quick as possible. Most of these animals die in a very short period, they have diseases, they suffer from dehydration, parasites, viruses, miss nutrition, never got the chance to learn social behavior from their mums.

On the Friday market you are able to buy endangered species, snakes, monkeys, any kind of wild animal which shouldn’t belong to private people in private homes. We heard about many people who are importing lions, cheetahs, wild predators which belong to zoos, to experienced specialists.

What kind of people are pimping their self- confidence with those animals to show off? Personally I think it is a huge sin to satisfy your own ego with a living creature and it should be punished by law, hard. Cheetahs are in flats or houses, they are declawed and sometimes their teeth are extracted, so they are not able to harm anybody. They lost their dignity, they lost their identity.

There are statistics which state that only a minimum percentage of those wild, exotic animals survive the first year in Kuwait. I am sure that the vet clinics can give you more information about those issues.

THE PAAFR , Public Authority for Agriculture and fishery, the municipality should be responsible, but usually the conditions on the Friday market stay untouched, since many years and many tries to convince the authorities about the unacceptable conditions. The staff of the animal market is untrained; they can’t give you proper information about any requirements of these animals. Dogs for dog fights are sold in dark corners, stolen pets are sold secretly by people in cars, anabolic treatments and steroids are sold for dog fighting, dog groomers are performing with 200 decibel sound and flashlights, puppies are crawling in front of the speakers with spiky hair styles and pink dresses…for animals the Friday market is hell on earth.

For me personally it is torture to go there; all those traumatized, widened eyes of the animals, their silent suffering or desperate screams are in my mind for many days.

4-tell us more about the shelter

PAWS is unfortunately forced the second time in 2 years to evacuate the accommodation. The current landlord changed unfortunately his mind to give us shelter for many years. So we have no other chance to move with currently 120 dogs and 80 cats to another place. We hope and pray for the mercy of the landlord to give us more time to find an appropriate place where we can stay for many years without fear to be chased away. Kuwait has no defined areas which allow dogs and cats. This is ridiculous if you think about the responsibility for all the overpopulation of stray dogs and cats. This is a self-made, human made problem, but when it comes to solutions, the options seem to be limited.

PAWS is just accepted in Kuwait, often questioned although we are providing a valuable service for Kuwait, for free, which should be honored and supported, but unfortunately the reality taught us, that most of the responsible people don’t see the necessary to have an animal shelter. Ironically we get at least 20 calls a week from people who want to get rid of their pets.

Please people realize, Kuwait needs animal shelters, as long as education and rights for animals haven’t been implemented sustainably, we can’t close our eyes and deny the facts!

So , yes we are still looking for a new place, between 3000 and 6000 sqm, favorite place would be Mina Abdullah, Wafra, Kebd. We are looking for a reliable, committed landlord who realizes what valuable mission we are working for.

5-Are there rules and regulations for people who are willing to adopt pets from your center?

First of all you have to be 18 to adopt an animal from PAWS. Usually you have to apply online on our website www.paws-kuwait.org and fill in an adoption form. In the dog or cat gallery you can do a pre selection for your pet, all pets are listed there with a short story and an ID Number. Then you will get within a few days an invitation to the shelter and you can meet your pet. We have to ask a lot of questions about your life conditions, we have to make sure that our animals are going into a safe future. Most of them are rescued, are traumatized and recovered after bad experiences. We are responsible, that this will not happen a second time.

We try to visit the animals after the adoption and are always available for advice and support. People have to pay an adoption fee, which has several reasons. First of all we have spayed and neutered all our rescues to avoid more population. We provided all necessary shots and medical care, so all those expenses need to be covered somehow, so we can take care of the next animal in need. Also we have to avoid that people do business with our rescued animals. If we would give them away for free, people could sell them the next day on the terrible, cruel Friday market.

In general I would like to give you an advice if you want to adopt: let the animal pick you, this is a better way to find your friend for life. Animals have a sense for people, sometimes colour, size , breed, value doesn’t matter….the souls have to match, they will be your faithful friends for ever…if you are able to provide that service too.

6-Are you getting sufficient support from the government?

Till today PAWS gets NO support from the government. The monthly costs for the shelter, about 2000 KD, are brought up through donations, supporters, adoption fees, events and passionate, selfless people who understand that we have to continue this mission. The animals of Kuwait need us, Kuwait needs PAWS.

We hope that You all have had wonderful EID Days and enjoyed the time with your families .

Allah bless you all. Thank you Kuwait people and citizens , friends and supporters of PAWS, together we can make the difference… pray for our animals in these days and visit our website

www.paws-kuwait.org and donate for our move. Thank you.

Manuela Tague

Chairperson PAWS

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