Saudization sackings resulting in abandoned pets

Published:  9 Oct at 6 PM
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Animal welfare workers in Saudi are being swamped with unwanted dogs and cats as locals and expats abandon their pets.

Dog and cat dumping in the Kingdom is now at record levels, exacerbated by expats returning to their home countries and rising costs making keeping and feeding pets an impossibility. Other reasons include noise complaints from neighbours, health problems needing expensive veterinary visits and new allergies. Other dog owners simply didn’t realise keeping a pet is a responsibility, giving up at the first sign of problems.

The majority of abandoned pets are dogs whose owners have neither the time not the inclination to train them properly, according to Open Paws Jeddah’s adoption coordinator Nour Fetyani. The shelter is staffed mainly by volunteers, who rescue and re-home the city’s abandoned dogs. It’s a round-the-clock task, especially now incidences of dog dumping are increasing. Many expats are now leaving the Kingdom and are unable to wait whilst vaccinations are given and brought up to date, and others don’t have the time to arrange pet transportation to their home countries.

The saddest cases for the volunteers are the dogs whose owners simply don’t want them around any more, dumping them in the streets or outside the city. Volunteers say it’s the toughest of all calls, as the owners’ lack of caring is difficult for them and the dogs to understand. One deaf and blind dog was abandoned after being thrown into a box, many are poisoned and others are shot with pellets. The shelters are in a difficult situation, as funding is needed for food, veterinary and boarding expenses but legal red tape disallows them from raising money to take care of abandoned dogs and cats.

Saudization is having a devastating effect on the workload for expat shelter volunteers, as more expatriates are sacked in order to free up jobs for Saudi nationals who don’t seem to want them. The Kitty Tender Love and Care cat sanctuary is now overwhelmed with a huge number of abandoned pets, with volunteers working round the clock arranging foster care and seemingly getting nowhere as more arrive. According to an expat couple who use their home as a dog shelter, many abandoned dogs were purchased as cute puppies who’re unwanted once they’ve grown up.
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