Qatar expat-run dog shelter fears being overwhelmed with dumped pets

Published:  8 Jul at 6 PM
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As the expat exodus from Qatar gathers pace, the emirate’s Paws dog shelter is fearing a surge in dumped pets.

There are no accurate statistics on the number of abandoned dogs in Qatar, but Paws estimates there are tens of thousands desperately trying to survive in the scorching heat. Given that expatriates make up around 90 per cent of the population, it seems taking responsibility for one’s pet dog when leaving for the home country isn’t high on their agendas at the present time.

Co-founder of the Paws dog shelter Alison Caldwell told local media the phone calls from expats asking for help in rehoming the family pet have started already. Major oil and gas companies based in Qatar as well as Qatar Airways have warned sweeping cuts in staff are imminent, due to the global economic slowdown caused by the pandemic. The shelter only has space for 30 dogs and 60 cats, a drop in the ocean when compared with the ongoing expat exodus.

In addition, it’s now almost impossible to rehome their rescued pets, although the shelter’s website is now getting a few results from kind people across Europe who’re happy to adopt. Unfortunately, with few flights now in operation, adopted dogs are being fostered until a flight can be arranged. Paws’s scheme for overseas adoption rests with kind-hearted travellers who agree to carry dogs to their country of adoption as excess baggage, with the arrangement costing around $300 rather than the $1,600 charged for air freight.

The shelter has been rehoming stray dogs since its founding in 2013, and has already taken in a large number of pets whose owners erroneously believed dogs and cats can spread the virus. Others arrived due to illness and hospitalisation of their owners, putting a strain on the shelter’s donation-based finances. To date, Paws has rehomed over 1,000 dogs, with the iconic Saluki hunting breed the most popular.
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