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Posted On: 22 May 2019 02:30 pm
Updated On: 12 November 2020 02:03 pm

Qommunity Voices: Janet Berry's journey for a good QAWS

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Janet Berry is British expat who has been living and working in Qatar for the last 17 years. She is the Co-Founder and Chairperson for QAWS (Qatar Animal Welfare Society) which was founded in 2004 to help stray and abandoned animals in Qatar. Funded purely by public donations, the shelter is a temporary home to over 150 animals looking for new families and is a permanent home to over 50 animals that are not suitable for rehoming for one reason or another.

As well as being the Chairperson at QAWS, Janet also run Qatar Pet Relocators; a pet import and export business that assists people with bringing their pets to and from Qatar from all over the world.

How long have you been in Qatar and how has your journey been so far?

    I have been her for 17 years with my son and daughter who are still here with me, they work alongside me running the business and the shelter. I consider Qatar my home and love the tight-knit community feel, the chance to meet so many interesting people from so many countries and all walks of life. I have always felt incredibly welcomed and there’s a genuine kindness and willingness to help from all the residents here.

    What do you do?

      QAWS will take in stray or abandoned animals whenever we have space. We give them the necessary medical care, a safe place to stay and love and attention whilst they wait for their forever home. Some of our more unusual residents can never be adopted so we will provide them with a home for life.

      Tell us about your journey with QAWS.

        As with anything worthwhile it is not always easy. QAWS has actually taught me a lot about different cultures, views, personalities, myself and so much more. The journey (so far) has had extreme highs and difficult lows, but life is always interesting and two days are never the same. My journey so far has included becoming the proud owner of a bull Ferdy, something I could never have imagined before I moved to Qatar.

        Qommunity Voices Janet Berry QAWS

        How did you wonder into caring for animals? How did you start?

          I have always been around animals; they have always been a part of my daily life. Growing up in the UK everyone has a pet, maybe a cat, dog, rabbit, horse or other furry, scaly or feathery friends. The culture is very much that pets are family and are treated with the same care and attention as any other family member. You just grow up knowing that you have to take care of them.

          Rescue work is just the same on a much larger scale; animals that need my help, love and attention will get it wherever possible; this is just what I was taught to do.

          When did you know you wanted to take up this kind of responsibility?

            It wasn’t a conscious decision! The shelter came about as we saw there was a need for one. When QAWS started, I was running a pet boarding facility, and on the very first day, two puppies were left at the gate. We took them in, found them homes and quickly realised there were so many others we could help as the number of abandoned dogs and cats kept growing. After building the first official kennel block for 40 dogs, the journey from those two puppies to 300 animals was just an extra kennel here or an extra cat building there; and now we have QAWS!

            What most often inspires your journey as the Chairperson of QAWS?

              This is a difficult one, I am inspired daily by something that happens and from my family being there together every step of the way, to the friends and volunteers who keep going tirelessly to help “just one more”. I am inspired by the very animals we help, how they move forward from some of the situations they find themselves in is truly remarkable.

              Why do you love what you do?

                When each animal finds their new family, when you see them happy, loved and cherished in their new home it makes all the struggles, tears and hours of work worthwhile. The animals are the reason I do this and to know that for them their life has changed for the better is the greatest feeling.

                I also love the fact that the community is always behind us, I get a sense of pride in the fact that as a small, blended country we can always count on everyone to do what they can when we call on them for assistance.

                How has the experience been, especially in Qatar?

                  Interesting! As the first shelter to start here, initially, it was incredibly difficult to explain our ambitions and ethos. Many people just didn’t understand why we were doing it or what we wanted to achieve. At the time. there was much less pet ownership and definitely less of a problem with stray animals; just a different outlook. As times have changed very quickly, the concept of animal welfare has become much more of an issue and we find more people are starting to understand and appreciate what we are trying to do.

                  Was it easy to set up an animal rescue shelter here in Qatar?

                    Initially yes! We had the land and help from the community to build with donated materials. It’s keeping going that is the problem. With ever-increasing numbers come ever-increasing costs and we struggle every month to find the money needed just to stay open. Finding the extremely high monthly costs is the biggest problem we face.

                    Qommunity Voices Janet Berry QAWS

                    Where do you draw your inspiration from?

                      From the photographs of our past residents living their new lives! Seeing the scared, skinny and broken souls we have sheltered, blossom into the wonderful companions they were meant to be, drives me to help as many as I can to have the same outcome.

                      What is your biggest achievement so far in terms of QAWS and animal rescue?

                        Just knowing that we have saved the lives of thousands of animals over the years and given them the chance of happiness.

                        What is the biggest difficulty you have faced?

                          The fact that we are still unable to register as a Charity/NGO. There is so much more we could do if we had the ability to have a purpose-built facility with paid staff and equipment. There is a huge pool of resources and finance out there that we simply cannot access as we aren’t registered yet. However, with help and guidance, we continue to try and achieve our goal and are hopeful; we are working on it!!

                          What do you think of the animal rescue scene in Qatar?

                            It would be great to see a coordinated effort. As there is no registered charity, we have lots of small groups and individuals trying to do the best they can with limited resources. The sheer number of groups means that the rescue community is spread so thinly that everyone suffers. The reality is that each group or individual operates differently so it would be hard to do this with no official footing. The solution is a registered, recognised welfare society that can approach the work with outlined procedures and protocols to benefit everyone; animals, rescuers and the community as a whole.

                            How do you balance home and work?

                              Very simply – I don’t! There is no off switch for rescue... My house is full of cats and dogs that can’t be at the shelter for whatever reason. Rescue work is all-consuming, you never get a day off and the task is sadly never done.

                              What’s next for you?

                                Our future is sadly always uncertain. The sheer number of animals needing help and the lack of finances, means we just have to go month to month hoping we can make it through.

                                Do you have any message for the people of Qatar?

                                  THANK YOU! To all that have supported us over the last 15 years and continue to do so, to all that have adopted from us and made what we do make sense, to everyone who gives up their time to volunteer and support our events. QAWS could not operate without you.

                                  BE KIND - We know everyone isn’t the same and may not have the same love for animals as us, but these animals are sentient beings that feel pain, sadness, hunger and thirst and deserve to live their lives as best they can. So, leave that bowl of water out for the strays, treat animals with kindness and be the human that defines humanity.

                                  To make a donation to QAWS

                                  To make a donation to QAWS, click here.

                                  To donate personally, visit QAWS. Every donation will be used for the care and upkeep of the animals

                                  A contribution can also be made towards the QAWS veterinary bill at Qatar Veterinary Centre. Donations can be made at the clinic or over the phone with a credit card by calling +974 4421 6405.

                                  For more information about QAWS and how you can help, check out QAWS on social media, etc.:

                                  Instagram: @qataranimanlwelfaresocietyqaws
                                  Twitter: @QAWSQATAR
                                  Email: [email protected]
                                  Phone: +974 5539 6074
                                  Address: Doha, Mukaynis, Ad Dawhah, Qatar

                                  Have you heard of QAWS? Have you ever been to QAWS to help out? Do you have a pet? Do let us know your thoughts in our Comments section. Like and share the article - it keeps us going!