- Kuwait Times Extra
KUWAIT: The AWARE Center held a Diwaniya on Tuesday to raise awareness on the widespread problem of animal cruelty in Kuwait. Kuwaiti animal-rescuer, Nadia Al-Kandari, and local photojournalist Claudia Farkas Al-Rashoud discussed an array of issues including dog fighting, the poor treatment of animals at the Friday market, the poisoning of strays, the illegal importation of wild animals and the abandonment of pets.
Poison continues to be littered across parks in attempts to cut the number of strays, and pets and strays alike have suffered painful deaths after ingesting it.
Al-Rashoud noted one of the responses people give regarding animal rights, “Many people say: why focus so much attention on animals when there are humans in need? There are two reasons I give them. Firstly, we have a religious obligation to help animals and, secondly, who says that we can’t do both?” Religion, Al-Rashoud said, encourages compassion towards animals, not cruelty based on the idea that animals are unclean.
A key factor discussed in the Diwaniya was the prevalence of the idea that animals are dirty, and even evil. Al-Rashoud noted that perceptions of animals being unclean or impure may be a factor in the prevalence of animal cruelty, however she added that, from a religious standpoint, compassion towards animals is encouraged:
“The Quran includes a story of a man who went to heaven for giving water to a stray dog. It also refers to the story of a woman who was punished for not helping a cat.” She added, “Compassion towards animals is rewarded and encouraged. Islam emphasizes the importance of animal welfare.”
Al-Rashoud noted that awareness and education are key in bringing about change, “The first step is education. Children should learn from a young age about animals and how to treat them.” She added, “Kuwait is a young country, attitudes are changing but we must continue to raise awareness.”
Dog fighting is a serious problem in Kuwait, she said. She added that some parents even take their children to watch the fights for entertainment, “It’s extremely cruel and it’s wrong for children to be exposed to something so violent and bloody.” She added, “There are animal cruelty laws, but they’re very hard to find. What’s more, there’s no information available on how to prosecute, and what would be necessary to do so. Even one successful prosecution would be a strong deterrent.”
Making a change requires pressure, Al-Rashoud said, “Kuwaitis wanting to make a difference can talk to their MPs. It may be taken as a joke at first, but persistence is key and it’s their right to voice their concerns.”
Kuwait has two organizations defending animal rights, KS Path and PAWS. However, Al-Rashoud noted that they need further support to continue their work, “KS Path and PAWS rely on donations and fundraising as they receive no Government funding at all.”
There are solutions that will work for Kuwait, she added, noting that the real issue holding the improvement of animal rights back is the lack of support. Kuwait’s two shelters are currently under considerable strain as pet owners, having tired of their new pet, abandon the animal.
“Don’t leave unwanted animals on the street. House pets can’t survive on the street,” said Al-Kandari. She added, “We are responsible for the welfare of animals. We are the ones who domesticated them and made them unable to survive in the wild.”
Al-Rashoud added, “Don’t get a pet unless you’re willing to make a commitment. Pets must also be spayed or neutered. There are already way too many unwanted animals in Kuwait.”
By Lisa Conrad, Staff Writer
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