MUSCAT, June 18 – When expatriates leave Oman’s shores after completing their contract or after failing to renew the same, the ones most affected are the pets often abandoned by their owners. Many a times, the pets — mostly dogs and cats — are left behind by owners because of the high costs involved in taking them to their home countries. “Expats usually buy pets from pet shops. This is the time of the year when expats leave as their contracts are not renewed (it is happening more frequently now). As they find it expensive to take pets to their home country, some try to find someone to adopt them, but usually end up releasing them in the streets,” according to Jennifer Lynn, a volunteer at ‘Omani Paws Rescue’ that saves abandoned, orphaned and homeless animals and finds homes for them.
Some citizens too buy pets for their children, but leave them unattended.
She says the abandonment happens for various other reasons. After buying a pet from a breeder, families realise it comes with a lot of responsibility. So, they dump it in the streets.”
In the absence of carers, the pets pose a challenge to the volunteers. What makes their chances of survival more difficult is since they are not used to the streets, they often end up getting run over by speeding vehicles.
“Some people bring them (the survivors) to vets for treatment,” adds Lynn. In such situations, “we get them operated and try to find homes for them”.
Due to lack of foster and adoptive homes in Oman currently, Omani Paws Rescue sends dogs and cats to be adopted abroad. So far this year, it has sent 70 dogs and cats to different countries, most of them to the US, where they are loved and cared for. These include German Shepherds, a Labrador and Shitzu, among others.
“Recently, Omani Paws Rescue, Muscat Dog Adoption and a ‘kind’ couple in Sur came together to save 12 abandoned dogs,” said Nada Jaffer al Moosa, Head of Omani Paws Rescue.
However, a lot more needs to be done. According to volunteers, the number of homeless/domesticated animals is 100 times more than the number of adoptions. “Isolated attempts to save them are not enough,” they say. Jennifer says all the foster homes are currently full with these homeless creatures.
“We are indebted to vets and do not want to turn away any of the sick animals, but it is getting increasingly difficult (to accommodate them) every day,” she added.
Meanwhile, NGOs suggest that if people want to help but can’t adopt pets, they can volunteer to help. If they can’t volunteer, they can donate. Or if they can’t donate, they can educate others.