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Archive for the tag “Gus’s Hope”

What Can You Do if Your Pet Goes Missing?


We have noticed an increase in pets going missing recently, and as any animal lover knows; this is one of the most heart wrenching situations to be in. We start to question all the possibilities that have lead to his or her disappearance asking why, when, how and where. Was the door or gate left open? Was he intentionally stolen? Did she wander out and accidentally end up in the wrong neighborhood where she felt scared and couldn’t find her way home?  Who would take him? 

Our thoughts might linger to imagining horrible scenarios picturing our beloved pet caged up in a pet store or found by a breeder, or perhaps being subjected to abuse on the streets, or run over by a car. We might find ourselves needing to blame someone; the housekeeper, the driver, the gardener, the children, the neighbour and even ourselves for being in this predicament.

There could be different reasons connected to Fido’s disappearance; many of which we might never truly know the answer to. In this article Sonja Svensek, founder of Pets in Need and saviour of countless four-legged friends, details productive ways that we can: a) help minimize the risks in losing a pet, and b) in knowing what to do when one goes missing.

Be a responsible pet owner

Micro-Chipping

Being a responsible pet owner means having your pet’s best interest at heart at all times. This includes his/ her health and safety. It is vital that your pet is micro-chipped, up-to-date with vaccinations and also neutered. These are the three basic, but necessary requirements, which a caring and responsible pet owner should ensure.  Though there isn’t an official database for registered micro-chipped pets in Saudi Arabia, it will still help confirm his/ her identify in case you are faced with disputes of ownership. Though many indoor pets don’t tend to wear a collar with an ID tag, it is a good idea to have your pet wearing one especially if they go outside.

lost cat 3ID Tags and GPS Trackers

Having your pet wear an ID tag considerably increases the return-to-owner (RTO) rate if your pet is lost. An ID tag should include the pet’s name and your contact details.  Attaching a GPS tracker will also help you locate your pet in a short period of time, but these are not commonly used in the country yet due to incompatible coverage and tariffs, but podtrackers.com is one of the first pet GPS devices that work in Saudi Arabia. It can be purchased online and currently costs $149.00 plus $50.00 for a subscription fee, but this is a small price to pay to confirm Fido’s whereabouts at all times of the day.

The disadvantage of many GPS pet trackers is the battery life, which usually doesn’t last more than 5 hours, but as soon as you notice that your pet is missing, it should give you plenty of time to locate them from the GPS tracker via an app on your phone.

lost dpg 7Neutering and Vaccinations

We have seen that the majority of reported missing pets are usually the ones whom have not been spayed/ neutered. When a pet is neutered, they don’t go into heat, hence lowering, if not eliminating, the chance of them wanting to wander out to mate and/or explore. A neutered pet also means the animal wont be at risk of being used for breeding nor reproduce whilst on the streets or if they end up in someone else’s care. But it’s not enough to just have them neutered and micro-chipped; they should be up to date with their vaccinations and have yearly check ups. This lowers their risk of catching diseases that would otherwise pose a problem for those who aren’t protected from catching certain illnesses.

A Clear Pet Routine

To help minimize the potential of losing a pet, all members of the household must be involved or at least made aware of the animal’s daily routine. Who walks the dog? Who is responsible to let the cat out in the garden? Who is in charge of feeding them? Are all the members of your household aware of your pet’s daily requirements? Setting clear boundaries and following a structure by all family members helps minimize the potential of a pet going missing.

What to do if your pet goes missing?

Spread the word. Fast.

If you know your pet has gone missing, don’t delay in informing as many people as possible. The sooner you spread the word, the higher the chance is in being able to find your pet. It is true that in some cases, pets have been known to come back on their own but don’t rely on this, as there could be many different scenarios that could occur between the time they went missing to hours if not days or weeks later.

A few years ago, one of our cats was taken by pest control, and we were only informed days later with the directions of where they had dumped the cats. The area was about 15 km away, and though we frantically scoured the crowded place we did not succeed in finding our cat. About a month or so later, our cat miraculously found his own way back home, only to die the same evening on our doorstep from the long torturous journey back. It is unknown why some animals know how to find their way back home, whilst others, don’t. Either way, we should not depend on the hope of them returning on their own, and instead, try to be productive in finding them ourselves as soon as possible.

Use Social Media

As soon as you know your pet is lost, spread the word via social media platforms by asking friends and animal rescue groups to help share your pet’s picture, contact details, the time and date as well as the location of when and where your pet went missing.

Should you offer a reward?

Most successful cases when pets were found and reunited with their owners, were the ones that offered a monetary reward. If not for the simple gesture of kindness to help find someone else missing pet, a monetary reward can help push people into action. This also means that in case your pet was found by someone whose intentions were to sell the animal to make money, they would gain their monetary incentive by retuning the animal to you. But this only works if whomever finds the pet is aware whom and where to return the pet to.

Put up Posters and Flyers

Create posters with a picture of your pet along with detailed information in both English and Arabic. These posters can be put up around your neighborhood and flyers can be made to distribute amongst neighbors, vet clinics and pet shops. A word of warning from personal experience; it is legally not ‘permitted’ to create flyers to distribute publicly. When one of our rescues ran away from his new adoptive family, I was desperate to find him despite the fact that I was only informed of his disappearance a month later. I created posters mentioning a monetary reward, which I put up in and around the area and stood on a main street passing flyers to as many passers-by as possible. I was eventually stopped by the police and was told this was not allowed. Any printed text needs to be authorized by the Ministry of Information before publicly distributed. However I was not asked to remove what I had already posted, but was given a warning for next time though I did explain I was trying hard to find a beloved lost pet.

I’ve learnt that despite the hurdles along the way, people generally want to help and be part of a solution when given the chance. Three days later, we got a call from a family who had seen one of the posters in the neighborhood and recognized Miggie, the missing dog from the picture and said they had him in their care for a month since he was first found wandering the streets at night. They were happy to bring him back home and happily accepted the reward money.

We have seen other happy endings on PIN after we have helped share other people’s posts about their missing pets and were happy to learn that they were returned because the person who found them, was made aware that the pet belonged to someone. From PIN’s shared posts, we have noted that Twitter reaches more people at a faster rate, then Facebook or Instagram. It is a good idea to share your posts on as many social media platforms as possible, aiming for groups where like minded animal lovers  can be connected and who would be willing to help by searching for the missing pet or at least by sharing your post with their own contacts.

Unfortunately for every happy ending there is also sad one. Not all missing pets are returned. Whether it is because whomever finds them do not know whom the pet belongs to, nor how or where to return them, or because they wish to keep the pet or sell them for money. Whatever the finder’s motive, is important for pet owners to exhaust and try all options.

pet shop in jeddahVisit the Animal souk (also known as the ‘pigeon souk’ located in the south of Jeddah) which usually opens on Fridays.  Stolen or lost pets have been found there so it’s worth visiting the place even if it is hard to see how the animals are kept and treated there. In addition to visiting the animal souk, inform the local vet clinics that your pet has gone missing and ask whether you can put up a poster on their customer board or if they would be kind enough to help forward your email to all their clients. Checking as many pet shops as possible is also vital, as some missing pets are sold on to pet shops. There was a case of a lost dog who was reunited with his family months after he went missing, because he was found at a pet shop.

Haraj is a website where many pets are put up for sale. If your pet has gone missing, check the site daily to see whether anyone has listed him/her for sale. It could be that your pet was found and taken to another city to be sold. The site is quite popular amongst local breeders and sellers so it’s worth checking daily.

Knowing that your pet is not home safe and sound with you is hard to accept and would be even harder for an indoor domesticated pet. Domesticated indoor pets, especially cats, do not survive well on the streets as they are not able to fend for themselves from danger. It is imperative that you act fast when your pet goes missing. Though it takes a little effort in spreading the word, don’t give up hope. Animal rescue and welfare groups are growing in numbers with more people joining every day, which helps in reaching out to even more people if and when their help is needed.

lost dog 8

Once you find your pet

If your pet gets found and is safe at home again, as a gesture of courtesy to everyone who helped spread the word in trying to find your pet, please remove any posters you put up in your area, and also inform and update any posts you might have shared on social media. Every time we get notified that a pet has been reunited with his/her family, we update our posts which not only encourages people never to lose hope, but it also motivates people in doing the same if they find themselves in the same situation. It also removes any confusion and keeps things current if you inform everyone that your pet has been found.

lost cat 7What if YOU find a lost pet?

If you find yourself on the other side of the fence and come across a pet that looks like he/she may belong to someone (perhaps they are wearing a collar, seem domesticated and usually, but not always a ‘breed’) then do what a missing pet owner would do; inform as many animal welfare groups, vet clinics and pet stores, since these are the places that owners of missing pets would initially target. Keep the animal safe, and give him/her water and food till the rightful owners can be contacted. If in the unfortunate event of not hearing back from them after giving it ample time, you might want to consider rehoming the pet. This is very hard to do given that the pet might belong to a family already, who are desperately searching for their pet, but the pet deserves to be loved and cared for and not end up on the streets again being subjected to all sorts of potential risk.

In all cases, which ever side of the fence you find yourself in, please keep the animal’s care at the forefront of your actions. As the saying goes: “Our purpose in life is to help others. If you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.” Please make sure they are safe from harm and can be given another chance to be loved. 

Helpful resources

GPS Pet tracker: www.podtrackers.com

Customized Pet ID tags: Pawzy store, Rawdah /Jeddah 055 476 6515

Animal Awareness and rescue groups online

PIN (Pets In Need): https://www.facebook.com/groups/PetsInNeedKSA/

Twitter: @Pin_Jeddah

Instagram: @Pin_Jeddah

Open Paws Jeddah: https://www.facebook.com/OpenPawsJeddah/?fref=ts

Instagram: @Openpawsjeddah

Gus’s Hope Jeddah: https://www.facebook.com/gushopee/?fref=ts

Instagram: hope_rescue

Final Exit? Leaving for Vacation this Summer? Have you Made Arrangements for Your Pet Yet?


The summer months usually mean that vacations are being planned, trips aboard being booked and ACs put on full blast. Though it’s a season generally spent relaxing with family and friends, for the expat community it can also be that time of year when people decide to leave and not come back. Work contracts come to an end and tickets are booked one way. On a positive note, it is also a time of blessings through the holy month of Ramadan, where families get together and extend their hearts towards helping communities and those in need. Though summer represents many beautiful aspects, sadly it’s also the time of year where we see an increase in pets being left behind and desperately seeking new homes.

In our latest blog post Sonja Svensek, Jeddah Blog columnist and guardian angel to Jeddah’s pet community, discusses the problem of pets being left behind during the summer, and gives us plenty of practical alternatives to ensure our furry friends stay happy and well-looked after.

dont leave me beind 4

Pets are for life.

Plan in Advance

Currently, at PIN (Pets in Need) we get at least one message per day from someone who wants to give their pet away because the family has decided to leave for the summer and their plans did not include their four-legged friend. Reasons such as ‘we don’t have the time to process Fido’s travel documents’ to ‘we are leaving on final exit’ are quite common during the summer months because people cannot deal with the sudden situation they find themselves in.

There are also cases where the pet is just left behind to fend for themselves because people think there are no other alternatives. One young pup was tied to a dumpster when the individual packed up and left for his vacation last summer. Veterinary clinics usually have a high number of cats at their boarding facilities which never get picked up again because their owners don’t claim them back. What does this mean for your pet?

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Don’t leave me behind. When You Move Away…I Won’t ‘be Alright’!

The sad truth is that your pets are not thought of as a priority and don’t always get another chance of finding a loving home again after you leave. The lucky ones who find another home might take time to readjust, but the others who are not so lucky will either end up at being sold at pet stores, the animal souk or end up being used for breeding and business purposes or simply abandoned where they are at risk of being run over, abused or killed.

We also hear that Pest control carry out more visits during the summer months on compounds where more cats are found left outdoors roaming around because the owners have moved. The only way you can guarantee your pet’s safety and well-being, is to ensure your pet stays with you, or to make well-planned prior arrangements.

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A large number of pets will end up being sold at pet stores, the animal souk or end up being used for breeding.

Boarding Facilities

Many schools have already closed for the summer vacation, and we have consequently seen a huge number of animals being posted looking for new homes. Those working for privately owned and run animal rescue organizations in the Kingdom, are bursting at the seams trying to help every pet they get notified about, but the reality is there simply aren’t enough homes for the animals being left behind. Boarding facilities are limited in their capacity of offering pets a temporary place to stay, and adopters cannot guarantee that the pet will be wanted after they are taken in.

Pet-sitting to Buy Time

I urge pet owners to be responsible in making arrangements for their pet before they travel. Animal welfare groups can encourage you to connect with like minded individuals who might be willing to pet-sit whilst you are away, which you could then return the favour at a later stage. Arrangements with family members, close relatives or friends you trust might be able to assist with travel documents if more time is needed to fly your pet out to you.

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If you know you are leaving the country for good, please take your pet with you.

It’s important to know that domesticated pets will not survive on the streets – regardless of the animal instincts they have. Having experienced a certain routine and been part of family life will not guarantee the same lifestyle in someone else’s home. The simple fact is that owning a pet is a huge lifetime reasonability, meaning that planning ahead is key, and your pet needs to be included in your plans.

If you are in fact spending the summer months in the Kingdom, please take note of the hot weather. Pets left in a hot car or out in the sun can die of heat exhaustion within minutes.

How Can I Help?

For those who are not travelling during the summer, perhaps you can get in touch with PIN and its members to look after someone’s pet? There are people who are in desperate situations, and time is not on their side if they have been informed of a final exit. They may not have the privilege of arranging papers in time, and they can be assisted by people who could help in the meantime.

Be Responsible

If you know you are leaving the country for good, please take your pet with you. If for whatever reason you know you cannot, make the necessary arrangements beforehand, bearing in mind that there are already hundreds of unwanted pets still looking for homes. Summer is supposed to be a season of joyous experiences filled with opportunities of creating good memories, and as a responsible pet owner, you can ensure the same opportunity is offered to your pet.

Useful Links

For more information about Animal up for adoption, please visit PIN on Facebook.

To know more about dogs being rescued and up for adoption, visit Open Paws Jeddah.

For cat rescues and cat adoptions, visit Gus’s Hope.

 

Pets in Need: What Happens to an Unwanted Pet?


A pet comes with a great deal of responsibility. For most people, a pet is for life, and is part of the family, but for some they have to face a difficult decision due to their circumstances. What happens when a once much-loved cute little kitten or puppy grows up and is not so small and cute any more? Sometimes the arrival of a new baby in the family results in a change in priorities, or extended travelling during the holiday season can mean that a pet becomes too much trouble to look after.

In the blog post, Sonja Svensek, Founder of PIN (Pets in Need), addresses the harsh reality when a pet is unwanted and abandoned. It is a difficult topic, but one that needs to be discussed in light of how many animals end up suffering on the streets. Sonja gives us lots of tips on how to plan, and avoid simply discarding your pet. If you have any questions, please leave a comment after this post, and we will ensure that it gets answered.

Picture the scenario; you have had your pet for years, he/she has become part of your family and you pride yourself on taking good care of your pet. Then suddenly you are faced with an unexpected circumstance where Fido’s future becomes uncertain, as you don’t know whether you can keep him/her anymore.

Why Pets are Abandoned

Pets in Need PINThere are many reasons why people suddenly have to part with their pet. It has always been debated whether there are any legit reasons why your pet has to be given away, since after all, if you adopt a pet, it’s a commitment you make for life, regardless of the personal challenges you might face. At PIN, we come across many different reasons why pet owners say they cant keep their pet anymore. Whether it is because they are getting married and their spouse will not accept pets in the house, or because they have realized they aren’t giving their pet all the care and attention it deserves or perhaps because they are leaving the country and the paperwork included is too costly and time consuming, or maybe because they are going on vacation or realized that they have suddenly formed allergies and keeping a pet is too much of a hassle.

It is important to note that your pet’s future depends on the actions and steps you decide to take. If you adopt a pet with the notion that it’s a responsibility you’ll have for the long-term right from the start, you can always prepare well in advance of any unexpected circumstances that could arise. Just like you would do for any other member of the family. For example, you could make arrangements of who would look after your cat if you go on vacation via a trusted friend, neighbor or by contacting local cat/ dog sitters, or by ensuring your pet is micro-chipped and getting the paperwork finalized before you take him/her with you abroad and so on.

The good news is that there are always ways towards a solution. Sometimes people can be misinformed and believe that you cannot live with a pet if you suffer from allergies, or if a woman is pregnant she shouldn’t be around cats. Animal support groups serve a purpose to help educate people and to offer advice and help when needed.   But what if someone gets bored of their pet after it’s grown out of it’s cute size? Or can’t afford to look after him anymore, or are forced to ‘get rid of him/her’ through circumstances out of their control? What will become of the pet then?

dogs Pets in Need Jeddah

Waiting for their owner who may never return.

Countless animals get left behind when people travel – especially during the summer months, school holidays or when exiting the country. It’s all too common to see that in desperation pet owners either leave their pet at a veterinarian clinic for boarding, with no intention to collect him/her back, or are desperately trying to find someone who can take him/her literally a few days before their departure or as a last resort. Some even abandon the pet on the street believing that as an animal, they would be able to survive on the streets and fend for themselves.

It only takes a short trip to Obhur or the Corniche to see the amount of abandoned cats and dogs left to their own devices. This is not always commonly seen by people, but they are there, wandering the areas searching for their next meal. These abandoned animals are easy targets for abuse, getting run over by a car, attacked by other animals or die from starvation or dehydration. A lot of these animals were someone’s pets once. Domesticated animals don’t know how to fend for themselves on the streets. As animal rescuers we have found countless pets, some which were still wearing a collar, run over by a car.

will love for food

Once-loved, yet abandoned pet.

But these aren’t the only risks we put the unwanted pets in. Some are left at vet clinics which are put up for adoption or sale, and others are sold directly to pet stores. Some are collected only to be sold to animal markets. Next time you see an older dog for sale in a pet shop, there is a chance that he/she had a home before. It’s harder to tell with cats since pet stores still sell ‘grown up’ cats which can be sold as younger ones. Unwanted pets could also be taken in by overly interested people who use them for breeding and business purposes.

Fostering

Those who are actively involved in rescuing animals first hand, know that there are more unwanted abandoned pets than there are homes offered to take them in. Is this due to a lack of commitment we have towards pets? Or maybe because we don’t know where to turn to for help? Perhaps it’s because it might be ‘easier’ to make it someone else’s responsibility or maybe it’s a combination of all the above? Since official registered shelters do not operate here, (yet!) some people have decided to offer their homes as foster care till other homes become available. But this isn’t a long term solution, nor a sustainable one since it means many pets will inevitably be put down to sleep, or be put at risk of an uncertain situation.

Residents of compounds or villas might leave their cats behind to live ‘freely’ in the area and these animals could have the same fate, not to mention reproducing more litters and increasing the number of cats in the area in the process. There are also cases where owners have no choice but to put the pet to sleep.

We might choose to turn a blind eye, but the more we are open about this and learn the reality of what could happen to the unwanted pets, the more we can make positive changes to ensure that pets don’t get abandoned, and are given a chance to continue living happy healthy lives and that productive steps can take place to find good forever homes.

How to find a new home for your pet

It is heartbreaking to say the least, when a pet owner finds him/herself with no choices but to give their pet up for adoption. It’s not always an easy option, but one that may be their only option. But there are steps to take that can help the pet find a new home and also give pet owners peace of mind. If for whatever reason you know you have to give your pet for adoption, make sure he/she is spayed/neutered first and foremost. Apart from the health benefits this has for the animal, this will ensure they cannot be used for breeding regardless of which situation they are in.

Second, plan ahead as much as possible. Join local animal welfare groups where there are people looking to adopt a pet and where you have a better chance of connecting with animal lovers who would rather adopt, than shop for a pet. Spreading the word amongst neighbors, friends and family that your pet is looking for a home. The more awareness we spread, the more chance it could reach the people who would like to adopt or foster a pet. During my years of helping animals, I’ve learnt that we cannot assume that people know where to get a pet from. Though getting one from a pet shop is known to all, many are not aware that there are many animals through people you might know that are looking to be adopted. If there are ways where you could take your pet with you, veterinarian clinics will help with the paper work required and inform you of the process. It can and has been done many times and should be the first thing to consider doing when knowing that you are leaving the country.

Planning ahead is key. This helps your pet get the best chance of finding a home. If you are not prepared to take your pet with you or cannot afford to look after your pet anymore, a tough question should be asked. What will become of your pet? Some people have resorted to euthanasia because they couldn’t find an alternative. The topic of putting an animal to sleep has never been easily accepted for the many different views people have, but if you cannot be certain of your pet’s future, safety and well-being, then perhaps this should be considered as a humane approach to end a possible life of suffering in uncertain situations.

There are a lot of supportive members from many different animal rescue groups, and these groups help people with tips, information and possible solutions that could guide you to come up with solutions and deciding factors. A lot of animals have been saved through informing the public of animal welfare in general, and the more people we reach through education and guidance, the more lives we will be able to help and save.

Contact the following groups on Facebook for additional information:

PIN (Pets in Need) for fostering and/or adopting pets, help and information.

Open Paws Jeddah which focuses primarily on dogs for adoption

Gus’s Hope which focuses primarily on cats for adoption.

Why Spay or Neuter your Pet?


Pets in Need founder Sonja Svensek and tireless animal lover sheds light this month on the critical issue of neutering or spaying one’s pet. She clarifies why this is an important issue, and discusses how this affects our pets and our community.

If you have any questions for Sonja, leave a note at the end of this blog post, and we will do our best to make sure it is answered.

It's not just rabbits who multiply like rabbits.

‘All animals need to experience the miracle of birth!” “I can’t be cruel to my pet and get them fixed! ”Neutering is not natural!”

Time and time again, we hear the all too familiar reasons why some people are against neutering/spaying their pet. The key here is to fully understand what neutering means and entails, and why it’s important for any true animal lover to do so. It might seem ‘unnatural’ to neuter your pet, but then again, we interfered with ‘nature’ thousands of years ago when we domesticated dogs and cats to make them our pets. Now we have the responsibility to protect them, and part of caring for them is to neuter/spay them which is the wisest and most humane thing we can do for our pet and our community.

We are living in an era where more and more pets are being bred, and the population has increased, where a lot of these new litters end up on the streets. It breeds more and more animals compared to the lesser amounts of people ready to offer loving homes.

People need to understand the countless benefits for both the pet and owners that neutering/spaying actually brings. Spaying and neutering helps dogs and cats live longer, healthier lives and it can eliminate or reduce the incidence of a number of health problems that can be very difficult or expensive to treat afterwards like different types of cancer or pyometra. Neutering/spaying your pet will reduce the risk of them having the urge to run away to mate. It can also help with other behavioural factors such as not urine marking or being aggressive. It also puts a stop to potential breeders wanting to breed and use the pet as a money making business.

save lives. spay and neuter.

Members of PIN as well as other animal rescue groups and individuals,  spend a lot of time, energy and money trying to decrease the amount of stray cats and dogs by neutering/spaying them, but since a lot of people still want their pets to reproduce, there will continue to be an epidemic of homeless, abandoned and stray animals because there are simply more pets than individuals willing to adopt them. Just recently, Arab News published an article stating that the removal of cats from the Corniche area would be in effect soon. This was due to the number of complaints from families having a picnic in the area which was increasingly infested with cats.  If the population of cats is controlled, it wouldn’t reach such epic proportions.

CatSign_154.5x15

I strongly advise a pet owner to do a little research first, know why neutering/spaying is really important, speak to others who have neutered /spayed their pet and give your pet the healthy long life it deserves. From the medical benefits, to the social and behavioural benefits as well as for the future of many unwanted animals, neutering/ spaying is the most responsible act towards our pet and community. The surgical procedure is one of the most common surgeries performed by veterinarians, and done under general anaesthesia. The pet doesn’t feel any pain and can be done at 8-9 weeks of age (before it sexually matures).

Speak to your local vet today and book your appointment! Fido will thank you later in life when it doesn’t incur health problems which are brought on by non-neutered/ spayed pets. Neutering for males usually costs a little less than spaying females. Prices range between 300-800 SR, however charitable animal organizations can perform this at a very low cost. Animal rescue group like Gus’s Hope, on Facebook, can be contacted for more information about this.

 

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