Malek Baloot is a recently graduated vet, who studied at An Najah University in Tulkarem, Palestine. Malek has been a star volunteer for PAL and has been a lynch pin for the organisation’s fledgling spay and neuter programme for dogs. Malek is currently visiting the UK as part of a training course offered by Dogs Trust, where he will learn new skills to bring back and share with the team in the West Bank. We caught up with Malek just before he went on his trip to learn more about him.
How did you get involved in the work of PAL?
I studied veterinary science at Al-Najah National University, and, during my third year in the university, the PAL team visited the college of veterinary medicine. When I heard more about PAL and listened to them talk about their goal of protecting all life – human and animal – I connected with it as this was the same way I feel. I decided from them to be a part of their work and joined them as a volunteer.
What is your role in the organisation and what does that entail?
As you may know, PAL now has a large number of volunteers but at that time, it was still growing. I wanted to be one of the first volunteers and be there from the start. When PAL began working with working horses and donkeys, I supported them in helping to provide veterinary care to the animals and also advice to the owners on how to care for them.
Since then, I have been involved in PAL’s TNVR (Trap, Neuter, Vaccinate and Release) programme for street dogs. This really is one of the most important projects for homeless dogs in Palestine as they are often targeted with violence and cause problems in the community.
Tell us about the activities that you plan to be involved in the coming year ?
Now that I have graduated and am fully qualified as a veterinarian, I feel it is my duty to continue to ensure I do my best to help animals and their care. As PAL and I share a vision – to serve both animals and my local community – I know that I will continue to work with them for a long time to come.
You are working for animals in a time when there are huge challenges being faced by the people of the occupied territories. Does this make your work more difficult?
Yes of course. I work in an occupied country that is divided by roadblocks between cities which made working and traveling between these cities very difficult. This, in turn, prevents and delays the work of our projects. There is also an issue of animals being released onto Palestinian land and we are seeking ways to understand this and tackle it.
Tell us something interesting about yourself!
I live in a village where there are a lot of animals roaming free. One day I saw kids torturing a dog after they had tied him to a tree. I felt so sorry for the dog and confronted the children. I released the dog and, from that day forward, I knew that I needed to be a fighter for animal rights. This is the moment I chose to train as a veterinarian.