Mayse Jarbawi:

I recently started volunteering with the Palestinian Animal League (PAL). My role is minimal and I don’t do much in comparison to what other volunteers do. It has been hard to hold animal abusers accountable bc there is no animal welfare law in Palestine. PAL’s team have been working on this for years. They drafted a law, prepared all the paper work, but no governmental body or ministry wants to adopt the law/act. The Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Agriculture refused to take any part and stated that they would fight this proposal. There is nothing whatsoever regulating the treatment of animals in Palestine.

Toyo Bird is a disgusting dark hole in the ground, run by a ruthless family (2 old ladies and their 2 nephews) that sells animals (mostly dogs, cats, rabbits, hamsters, turtles & birds). As its name implies, it was a bird shop at first, but slowly the owners started to expand, and the expansion was carried out without any kind of planning. So, the place has a very awkward location, it’s cramped, doesn’t have the necessary internal infrastructure, and doesn’t have ANY WINDOWS. The owners have absolutely nothing to do with animals- no professional background, any form of education or experience. They actually despise them and enjoy inflicting pain on them- they think it’s amusing. In their perspective, this is a business and the animals are their products- if the animal is not up to the standards then it’s ok to smack it every now and then & completely isolate it, in hopes that it’ll die soon enough. I can’t even put to words how badly the animals are treated there. It is truly one of the saddest places around.
I do my best to avoid stepping foot in that place but then I think of the animals and I’m stuck in that familiar vicious circle of thought, and I end up going in to just take a quick look & shove my fingers through the metal cages to pet the cats & sweet talk them. Of course, the answer is to boycott Toyo Bird & spread awareness so that others boycott it too and eventually it shuts down. So when I do go in I am not being a part of the solution, I am being a *HUGE* part of the problem. > BUT WHAT ABOUT THE ANIMALS?< Without any kind of law, without any form of authority, how can we shut this place down? How can we rescue these animals?
A few days ago, I went to Toyo Bird and I walked to the back where they keep the cats and saw a tiny kitten (3-4 weeks old) laying on her stomach with her face buried in the floor of the cage. She was separated from her mom because ‘she was sick’. Her two siblings had died and the owners were worried that she was going to get the mom sick & that was too high of a risk for them bc the mom is some fancy breed. The mom was in a cage next to hers, moving from corner to corner, panting and in distress. I asked if I could adopt both and the lady there said the mom was not for sale. I tried to reason with her and explain to her that the kitten won’t make it without her mom, she needs to be nursed and needs the warmth. She even went as far as to ask me to pay for the kitten if I wanted to take her. “We are not an adoption center here” she kept saying. I told her I’d take the kitten to the vet and bring her back when she was well enough. She immediately told me I could just take her for free then bc she already has enough issue with this vet and if he knew this kitten came from them he would give them trouble. Wow. When I carried her, the lady decided to mention that her tail was broken bc they had accidently closed the cage door on it. So, I walked out with the kitten, and drove to the vet.

The kitten’s eyes were shut, infected and swollen, her ears were filled with mites, her breath stank and she was drooling. The vet said she has bronchitis and an umbilical hernia. She was shaking bc of dehydration, and she was malnourished. He gave her a bunch of shots and prescribed medicine, ointment and eye drops for her. He said her situation was so bad and that I should try to not get so attached bc kittens this tiny need their moms.
Today is her fifth day with us and she is stronger than ever. Her eyes are glowing, her ears are clean, she finished her dose of antibiotics, she is eating and sometimes sitting up and taking a few steps! Her name is Amar which means moon in Arabic.
Taking care of her for the past few days has been overwhelming and exhausting. It is constant anxiety and stress bc she still can’t regulate her temperature and if at any point it drops then her organs will start to shut down. None of this would be happening and this poor little baby wouldn’t be suffering if she was with her mom in a safe warm space. It is cruel to consciously separate a mom from her baby bc **it’s convenient for business**
I’m scared for all the animals that are there and it breaks my heart to know that there is no solution to this in sight.
Please sign the petition to shut down pet shops in Palestine and help me share it so we can reach as many people as possible. Hopefully we will have a lot of signatures and something will be done.