What if we told you, you could help out an animal in need with little effort on your part? Dogs in Doha volunteer Sarah Clarke tells us how.
Readers of a certain age will be familiar with the cry ‘Thunderbirds International Rescue are go!’ drawn from the hit British science fiction TV series of the 1960s which follows the exploits of a secret organisation formed to save people in mortal danger.
Fast forward to 21st century Doha and switch from humans in peril to dogs in danger and the parallels with Dogs in Doha’s network of International Animal Rescuers are clear. In this case, it’s a team of volunteers working tirelessly to find homes for the forgotten, abandoned, stray and abused dogs of Doha who, often through no fault of their own, find themselves on the streets of Qatar. Within minutes of being alerted to a dog in need ‘Operation Dog Rescue’ rolls out and another pooch is snatched from the jaws of certain malnourishment, injury, disease and even death.
Sadly, it is a story repeated time and time again and one that prompted former Doha resident Birgit Marquerithe, now living in Belgium, to establish Dogs in Doha in 2006 as a network of foster families to help rehome rescue dogs.
To date, the group have found loving homes for more than 600 dogs and Birgit has recently formed the charity Rescue Saluki Middle East (RSME) in Belgium to expand her work even further.
Yet still her legacy lasts on in Qatar and the hard work continues. Fortunately, through a vast social media network of dog lovers and with the support of veterinary centres and other rescue organisations, many of the country’s abandoned dogs find forever homes in Doha with local and expatriate families.
Through Dogs in Doha’s country- and continent-spanning network, some dogs are lucky enough to find homes much further afield in Europe, North America and Canada. The problem then becomes one of logistics – getting a dog from Doha to a home in the US can be quite a challenge! Take sister saluki puppies Saya and Nayla, for example, who were rescued from a small cage on the street in Doha in March 2013 and are now living in Spanish Fort, Alabama, US. Their journey of over 7,500 miles (approximately 12,000 kilometres) to their new family involved a long haul flight, an overnight stay in Houston, a road trip to Mississippi and a foster home on the Gulf Coast of Alabama with Alabama Sight Hound Adoptions. Finally, following a ‘meet and greet’ session at Pets Supermarket in Daphne, Alabama, they were spotted by their new family who whisked them away, renaming them Chickpea and Pita, and they have since settled into their new forever home.
In a similar way, since the beginning of 2013, Dogs in Doha have rehomed 37 dogs abroad and there are 13 more being prepared to fly in the coming months.
But Chickpea and Pita’s epic journey could not have happened without that first flight out of Qatar. And this is where you can help! The cheapest way for Dogs in Doha to fly a dog out of the country is as excess accompanied baggage rather than cargo. So, the group needs people to act as flight buddies for dogs that have found homes overseas.
There is absolutely no extra cost to you. All you have to do is tell Dogs in Doha when you are flying and where you’re going to and they will do the rest so that on the day of your flight all you have to do is just turn up at the airport as normal, where the Dogs in Doha team will be waiting for you with the dog to check him or her in with you.
Then, when you arrive at your destination, you will be met by a Dogs in Doha representative who will take the dog to its new family. All you have to do after that is carry on with your holiday or business trip, secure in the knowledge that you have helped another rescue dog have a better life.
Do you want to be the first part of the journey puzzle for one of the Dogs in Doha pooches? Then just contact us with the subject line “I want to be a flight buddy!” and help to ensure that once more ‘(Dogs in Doha) International Rescue are go!’
Email Dogs in Doha at firstname.lastname@example.org
Looking for a flight buddy
• Saluki Mummy Fleur and her puppy Ismat are patiently waiting for a flight to Houston
• Puppy Jamahl, a saluki mix, waits for a flight buddy to Amsterdam
• Stunning saluki puppy Binky is on her way to Washington just as soon as she can find a flight buddy
• Long-legged beauties Lili and Faith are looking for flights to Milan, Italy
• Senior saluki Sandy has a home in Atlanta, Georgia. She needs an extra special flight buddy who is travelling via Amsterdam to either Houston or Atlanta as she is a large dog and can only go that route
Travelling with pets
The dogs all have official export papers that declare they’re fit and legal to travel from Qatar. These have the flight buddy’s name on because you can’t have something flying, dog or otherwise, without someone in tow unless they go cargo which is expensive.
The dog is always a Dogs in Doha/RSME dog but technically the flight buddy is the owner for the duration of the flight. As the dogs are all rescues and spayed/neutered and they are going to a registered charity, then to new homes, there are no issues regarding import tariffs etc, although for the EU they will need additional papers regarding rabies tests. This is taken care of by Dogs in Doha.