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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.