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Don’t Shop…Adopt!

At some point in time, especially if you have children, you will have considered the idea of having a pet. It is all too easy to go to a pet store in Jeddah and pick one up, however is this really the best one can do?

In this blog post, animal lover and founder of Pets in Need Sonja Svensek tackles the dilemma of buying versus adoption and guides us to the reality of the shocking conditions of animals in these stores.

As an animal lover you are probably tempted to walk into a pet store to visit the animals whether you are tempted to buy one or not, and I am sure you will walk out of there feeling angry, helpless and upset by what you find.

It is no secret that all sorts of animals can be found and bought from pet stores. From wild raccoons, to exotic snakes, to birds and cubs, pet stores are trying to cater for all individual’s preferences. However, the reality is, regardless of the animals being sold at stores, the conditions they are kept in is way below acceptable. Not only do the majority of these animals not even belong in pet shops, the cats and dogs as well as other small pets are living in atrocious, hazardous and unhealthy conditions. Upon my own investigation of visiting some of the more popular stores here, most, if not all of the stores, had cats crammed into small cages, where they don’t have enough space to even stretch or lay down. Bowls of fresh water are not always available. Food is scarcely given- if at all- and this is usually because food and water will only encourage more ‘waste’ from the animals which means dirtier cages and more work for staff members.


Dirty and cramped living conditions for cats in the pet store.


There are currently no laws or regulations which monitor pet stores so it’s up to the owners to sell whatever animal he likes and keep them in whatever conditions he wants. As long as there is a demand, the supply will be there. Animals are either bred through their own farms or brought in from neighbouring countries, even from as far off as  Bulgaria, and as young as a month old.

The primary goal for pet shops is to be a lucrative and money making business – not one with the welfare of animals in mind. One of such example is the pet store ‘Jeddahs animals and birds’. Is this what one would accept as proper living conditions for animals? Is this the type of scene we wish to educate and teach our children about the treatment of living creatures?


Beautiful cubs neglected with no space to move around.

It is difficult to walk into a pet store and not feel obligated to ‘save’ an animal from these conditions thinking we might be doing something worthy, when really, as soon as one is bought or taken, another will replace it. We always urge people to adopt, and not shop for a pet. There are more unwanted animals than there are people who wish to have them, and for every pet that is bought from a store, it removes the chance for an already un-homed one waiting to be adopted.

Since there are no animal shelters or certified breeders here whose primary focus is the well being of animals, the best option is to adopt from people who are part of a private animal rescue organization. Many animals have been  re-homed through PIN via caring individuals and this should be encouraged amongst more people. Animals are not the property of people to own and sell to the highest bidder, hence the notion of adopting which is free and what could help every pet get a home without the incentive of ‘valuing’ it based on what it cost.


Turtles climbing on top of each other due to their confined and congested living space.

Places such as the animal souq downtown have auctions for their animals. Many of these pets were probably found and/or stolen and are sold to the highest paying individual. In most cases, these pets come with health problems and die shortly after being bought. I’ve seen many incidents where a puppy was bought from a pet store only for it to die a few days later. This could be due to the diseases it contracted whilst being kept in poor conditions, but also because a lot of the puppies sold are removed from their mother far too young.

If you are considering including a pet in your life, then please look into the more humane pet adoption avenues, and make a difference in more ways than one.

What is PIN and What Does it Stand for?

Whether you reside in a compound, apartment or villa, you cannot live in Jeddah for long and not notice the sheer number of cats roaming the streets and feeding off the bins. If you feel that you would like to help these poor animals, but don’t quite know what to do, we’ll be bringing you information and tips on how to assist the widespread cat population and even the best way to look after a pet of your own.

Sonja Svensek, founder of PIN (Pets in Need) will be writing regularly for Jeddah Blog on her campaign to raise animal awareness, which includes taking care of a pet, as well as share tips and helpful information on the benefits of neutering  and spaying, and what one can do to help the many animals in need.

Along with her team, Sonja is helping over 96 dogs who have been saved off the streets since 2008. This is a result of people abandoning their pets on the streets. PIN collect and rescue these animals, and then give them a new lease on life. A puppy or kitten can be cute when young, but unfortunately it is common for people to get rid of them once the pet becomes an adult, and the responsibility grows.

There is help being offered now, all extended by an amazing group of supporters at their own time and expense, such as Ruga and the team who run Open Paws Jeddah and Open Paws Riyadh. “Much more needs to be done,” says Sonja, “And it can’t always be through the same group of people.  We need to be the change we want to see in the world. Awareness and education is key. ”

Pets in NeedAs the founder of PIN (Pets in Need) my goal was to try and create a community, a movement, to connect like-minded people ‘in one place’ to be proactive in helping animals in the Kingdom. It’s all too easy to call yourself an ‘animal lover’ when one expects others to help and rescue pets, so we need to be the change we want to see happen in the community.

PIN was created in 2008 with just a handful of close friends who came on board to help rescue the animals that needed treatment, and put them up for adoption. It is not a shelter, nor charity-based organization, instead it is an organization that brings people together to help, inform and educate them about what it entails to care for an animal and what one can do to help stop animal abuse.

One of the beautiful cats successfully adopted via Pets in Need.

One of the beautiful cats successfully adopted via Pets in Need.

There are currently no laws or regulations to monitor the conditions of pet stores, nor are there animal shelters or official charities that enable animal welfare, so it is individuals who go out and save abandoned pets on the streets, who pay for their treatments and seek new loving homes for them. We have been able to find over 800 animals new leases on life over the years, however people are still going out to buy a pet from a pet store instead of adopting one. For every pet that is bought from shops, it decreases the chance of a homeless pet finding a new home.

PIN has over 2500 members now, and we ensure that they are screened before being added to the group, and though we are primarily working within Jeddah, we have been successful in helping other pets from other cities with affiliations with other pet society groups in other areas of the country.

This cute canine was rescued by PIN and given a forever home.

This cute canine was rescued by PIN and given a forever home.

If you want to adopt a pet, first learn about what the responsibilities are, and the costs involved. Though adopting is free, over time owning a pet can become costly with vaccines, treatments whenever necessary, and not to mention cat and dog food being expensive in the kingdom. All sorts of pets come up for adoption on PIN and we try our best to ensure that they go to loving, caring, forever homes. We are always looking for new members who can help rescue, and/or foster a pet, as currently there are more animals in need than  people willing to offer help.

For more information please visit PIN on Facebook, Twitter: Pin_Jeddah and Instagram: Pin_Jeddah. We need all the support we can get in helping animals.

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