In a sad development, the Qatar Animal Welfare Society (QAWS), the oldest and largest animal welfare shelter in Qatar has ceased to exist after 10 years of service.
“The shelter is no longer operating as an animal rescue organisation and will no longer be accepting stray animals off the streets of Qatar,” a statement issued by the organisation yesterday said.
After being given their eviction notice in December 2012 and having spent the last seven months trying to find an alternative location, their efforts have come to nothing.
“Despite the public support of the Central Municipal Council, numerous meetings with the Ministry of Municipalities and Urban Planning and over 75,000 signatures of support from around the world, no solution has been found,” the spokesperson for the society said.
Having accepted the inevitable, QAWS has negotiated to stay at the current location until September 30, 2013 but is being penalised for their overstaying with a 70% increment in “rent” for their remaining months.
Over the past 10 years, QAWS volunteers have rescued over 3,000 animals and provided each one with shelter, medical care and attention before finding them new homes both in Qatar and abroad. Having held hundreds of educational visits, talks and presentations over the years, the organisation has developed close relationships with many schools, universities and businesses.
“The fear for the future is that the number of stray animals on the streets will increase and animal welfare education amongst the community will be severely decreased,” the official said.
“QAWS is extremely disappointed that no assistance has been offered” but have accepted that the priority now is to focus on re-homing the animals currently in their care. With more than 200 animals to find homes for before the September 30 deadline, QAWS is asking for help from the public in securing the future of these animals.
Members of the public who find stray animals or have pets they can no longer keep, are advised to contact the Animal Resource Department on Airport Road for assistance.
Anyone considering adopting a pet is urged to contact the Qatar Animal Welfare Society before September 30.
Talking earlier to Gulf Times, QAWS organising member Janet Berry had said that the current shelter stood on a privately owned farm west of Doha and the bustling activities and outgrown populations have increased in farm employee and resident disturbances – the reason why their lease was refused renewal.
The QAWS has been in desperate search for a 10,000 sq m area to continue their operations which include housing hundreds of animals, from stray dogs and cats to birds, goats and even bulls, veterinary services, educational programmes and finding adoptive homes. The entire operation is run by volunteers and donations.
The society has been doing yeoman service to animal welfare in Qatar, particularly to strays and has been able to rehome animals as far away as the USA.
During a regular session of the Central Municipal Council (CMC) in May this year, the council had approved various recommendations to support the Qatar Animal Welfare Society after a member called for practical solutions to be adopted to house the growing number of stray animals on the streets of Qatar.
CMC member Sheikha al-Jufairi had called upon the government to support societies such as the QAWS that take care of abandoned and sick animals. She had argued that such a move would serve many purposes other than showing kindness to animals.
“The strays could pose both a danger and nuisance for the inhabitants when left loose on the streets. So, a merciful and humane way should be adopted to deal with the issue to maintain the well-being of the society,” she had pleaded.
Though the CMC recommended that the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Urban Planning (MMUP) should study the possibility of assigning a suitable piece of land to QAWS on lease or as a grant and urged the Ministry of Environment (MoE) to support the cause, nothing came out of the whole exercise, leading to the announcement yesterday of the closure of the society.
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