Muscat: Seeking support from animal lovers in Oman to open the country's first animal shelter and calling for an end to the suffering of animals, an online petition uploaded by Advocates of All Sentient Beings has already attracted 12,444 signatures, as of May 11.
"Every day, we see homeless puppies, kittens, older dogs, and cats perish. The climate in Oman is tough on homeless animals. In the summer and through most of the year, the temperatures go very high. There is no shelter from this heat; there are no trees, no abundant bushes, no barns, and no underpasses. Most animals perish within their first few months of life," Rasheno, one of the administrators for the petition, wrote to Times of Oman in an email interview.
"If they are lucky enough to find a food source, they might live to the ripe old age of three to five years. Throughout those years, all they know is hunger, fear, and suffering," the petition administrator added.
"There is a small group of volunteers, aided by local vets offering charity, who are trying to do the best they can to help the strays and abandoned animals (cats and dogs). Unfortunately, the problem is overwhelming, and we need a lot of support. The homeless cats and dogs have very tragic and short lives."
At present, in the Sultanate, there are no shelters, no government-funded programmes, or anything of that nature to protect homeless animals.
Every year, many animals die from malnutrition and disease.
"Even if the animals are lucky enough to find a safe, clean source of food and water, they don't live longer than three to five years. It is possible for them to live for up to seven or 10 years if they live in an expatriate community, are de-sexed, and are fed regularly, provided that they are lucky enough to survive kitten-hood," the administrator said.
The problem these homeless animals face is not only to survive in Oman's harsh desert environment but also to overcome the overall mentality of people in the region regarding pets and street animals.
"As you know, stray animals are not accepted as house pets. There is only a small population of residents who rescue and adopt these stray animals. For example, when the population of wadi dogs gets too high in a given area, the authorities implement a culling programme. Sometimes, the dogs are injured but don't die immediately; sometimes, the puppies, which were hiding, sit next to their dying siblings or mothers.
"As for the cats, they routinely get poisoned because they eat from open trash bins. The bins are treated for vermin or are occasionally sprayed for mosquitoes and flies. The cats jump into these dumpsters, get poisoned, and later die in agony. There are many stories from concerned citizens who have found mother cats dead, surrounded by kittens that are meowing in hunger.
"There are too many homeless pets, and those who care and are able to help are doing whatever they can. But, it is not enough," the administrator added.
"A small group of people are trying to help the animals by rescuing them, feeding them, or taking them to the vet when they are injured. However, there are not enough private citizens who have the time and resources to do this all the time. That is why we have started this petition.
"It is not hard for anyone to see that there is no long-term, effective, and most importantly, humane solution to the problem of stray animals in Oman," the administrator concluded.