Dog lovers will have the opportunity to support a scheme aimed at rescuing and rehoming abandoned dogs from the city streets at the Dogs in Doha and Art Afternoon on Friday.
The afternoon will feature some 20 stalls selling pieces of art and other items, as well as a kids’ corner, a silent auction and a raffle.
Dogs in Doha was founded by Birgit Marquerithe who has arranged the event at Al Ain Gardens with other members of her group.
Birgit is a dog lover who owns five rescue dogs herself and has always been involved with animal welfare efforts in Doha. She created Dogs in Doha to bring together dog-owners to walk their dogs, helping them socialise their pets and get to know each other.
With more members joining the group came increased awareness about rescued dogs and strays, and so she began to work to get rescued dogs into foster homes in the hope that they could be rehomed abroad.
Establishing a link with the Saluki Tree of Life Alliance (STOLA), Birgit began to transport rescued salukis from Qatar to the US where the group had already identified foster homes for the animals.
And since then she has been sending dogs to loving homes on a regular basis – so far Birgit has rehomed some 25 saluki dogs in the US, and is currently working on plans to create similar links in Europe to send dogs to Italy and Belgium.
Transporting the dogs across the world is not cheap, and Birgit has got by so far by relying on the support of her group-members and her private funds. However, as the operation continues to grow, she has recognised the need for more help, and so money raised at Friday’s event will be put towards vet’s bills and the cost of flying the dogs abroad.
“I will not be handling any of the money, but people can visit the vets and pay off some of the dogs’ bills, and the people selling items at the event have direct links to vets to donate their funds there,” explained Birgit.
After rescuing the dogs, Birgit has them vaccinated and checked out before placing them in foster homes. After they have been in foster care, Birgit is able to gather information about the animals’ behaviour and preferences, which she can then pass on to the centres abroad so they can be placed in suitable homes.
“With salukis being a very common breed in the region and a mistaken belief that they make difficult pets, it often takes longer for them to find homes,” she explained, adding “but people around the world are specifically looking to adopt salukis, so we can send them there.”
Merlino, a saluki rescued from the desert near Dukhan is one of the group’s success stories. Skinny, malnourished, covered in tics and in general poor health, he was taken to the vets where after a couple of weeks of treatment he was ready to be rehomed.A stroke of good luck meant that Birgit had a space available for Merlino, and so he was taken to the US and to a new life, thanks to Birgit’s and STOLA’s efforts.
Birgit ensures that all the dogs she rehomes are neutered or spayed as she does not want them to be used for breeding, which could lead to the possibility of them or their puppies being brought back to Qatar.
She is constantly shocked by the animals she finds dumped, with many of the salukis she rescues having been used for hunting or racing.
“When they are no longer able to run or they get too old they are just left in the desert,” she said, adding “these dogs can’t help themselves – we need to help them.”
And Birgit was keen to emphasise the long term implications of owning a dog: “People often adopt dogs and think they can just leave them when they leave the country, but dogs are a long-term commitment and people should always take them when they repatriate.”
“Luckily a lot of people have been giving me support, such as iloveqatar.net, Starlink, Honda, Ritz-Carlton and Marriott, as well as many others,” she said, adding that the Doha Vets and Qatar Veterinary Centre have also provided incredible assistance since she established the group.
Details about Friday’s event can be found on Birgit’s website www.dogsindoha.weebly.com or her Facebook group, and anyone is welcome to attend.
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