Saving strays this summer

Shereen D’Souza speaks to experts on how to help homeless animals Discuss this article

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As summer approaches, the stray animals on Doha streets need more help than ever before. We are big proponents of animal rescue and care, and this month we speak to a few experts on how best to approach and take care of abandoned animals.

Qatar is overpopulated with cats and according to Alison Caldwell, co-founder of Paws Rescue Qatar, a volunteer-based animal welfare and non-profit organisation for homeless and abandoned animals of Qatar, the best the community can do as a whole is provide food and water and sterilise them so more cats are not added to the stray circles.

Injured animals are common, too and our immediate instinct should be to take them to the nearest vet. Sometimes cars meant for local transportation allow cats if they are in a box. “Quite often people message rescue organisations but as they aren’t always able to pick up messages straight away, valuable time could be lost,” says Caldwell. Dr Nancy Cooper from the Canadian Veterinary Hospital adds that stray animals need to be spayed, neutered and then rehomed. As a hospital that does its own share of charity, she says everyone take responsibility for the welfare of animal.
“Everyone can take on two as their own personal charity. We can help at CVH, but we can’t do it for free as we already tend to a lot of charity cases and it’s not so easy.”

Be prepared
You should carry a few essentials at all times, so that animals in need can be tended to on the spot. “It is important to carry water and a small container or plastic cup,” Caldwell says. “If you can carry around a small bag of dry biscuits in your car then this would be great too.” Cat food usually works best, but the one thing we shouldn’t do is feed them milk. “Animals have an intolerance to milk, so this can do more harm than good. Water is always the best option and any brand of pet food. Otherwise plain cooked boneless meat is fine,” she adds. Bones should always be avoided.

Dr Cooper also addresses that storing canned food in the car may not be the best solution because of the heat. “Keep water and a bowl. At CVH, we have some travel bowls that are actually small and flat, but can be reshaped into a bowl,” she explains.

Is it safe?

So, what is the protocol when touching or carrying stray animals? People worry that they may risk contracting something or even harm them further. However, Caldwell confirms that it is very rare for animals in Qatar to carry diseases that can be transmitted to humans. “If you get a small scratch, you can clean and treat it yourself. If you’re concerned, just go to a doctor,” Caldwell says. “Always have a towel or blanket for an injured pet,” adds Dr Cooper.

What’s important is to always have a stock of supplies and never hesitate to leave a small bowl of water. People temporarily take in cats, with the good intent of rehoming it. “Sadly, it often happens that the cat doesn’t end up being rehomed, and the person who picked them up doesn’t know what to do. In their colonies, they may have their own territory and feeders they know, and by taking them away from this it can remove their ‘street smart’ ability,” Caldwell explains.

Several charities accept donations in the form of food, blankets and toys if not in cash. Fundraising initiatives are being held across Doha by volunteers of Paws Rescue Qatar. With an aim to raise QR460,000 by October 2018 to see over 240 animals in their care through summer months, Paws is setting up various fun activities for the public to participate in and the money charged for tickets goes toward their cause. They’ve also set up a GoFundMe campaign.
To donate, visit: www.gofundme.com/SavePawsRescueQatar. Paws Rescue Qatar, www.pawsrescueqatar.org. Canadian Veterinary Hospital (4411 8850).

By Shereen D’Souza
Time Out Doha,

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