“It’s just one cat, why don’t you come and save it, it is suffering a lot” this is what we hear almost every day when we receive phone calls about street animal that desperately need help. There’s no concrete data on the number of stray animals in the streets of the West Bank, but we’re positive that we receive almost 50 phone calls on a weekly basis from people asking us to come and rescue an animal, we also get a lot of messages on our social media pages. The phone calls don’t just come during the day, but at night time too. We’re definitely seeing a positive side to this from the local community, we care more and we want to save and rescue these animals. More than ever, the idea that change is possible is now in the minds of the people here, and PAL is no longer looked at as an institute that carries and promotes different ideas that don’t really mean that much, but as an institute that cares about everything that has to do with animals.
I will never forget what a girl that cares deeply for animals once told me, “You look like you can do a lot more than what you’re already doing” however, I don’t know how we’re viewed in the eyes of Palestinians. This sentence carries a lot more than what appears on its surface, and it really does have a positive side to it. We are working and we’re doing our very best, unfortunately though, that is not enough to solve all the problems of animals. We’re lacking in the financial department, for example, we don’t have a vehicle to transfer animals from one place to another, and even if we did, we don’t have a safe place to transfer the animals to, and we don’t have a safe quarantine zone to put infected animals in.
Among the many calls that we get weekly, are calls asking us to come and save dogs from being poisoned or shot, but all we can do is transfer these dogs from one place to another. However, we cannot save all the dogs because some of them are in areas that are very far from us, and sometimes in areas that we cannot reach. We have a good number of volunteers who are ready to help, but we lack the materials needed to rescue these dogs.
It was a lot simpler in the past, but we’re receiving more and more calls asking us to help animals that are injured either from violence cast upon them or accidents. In this case it’s very hard to find a permanent place to continue treating these sick dogs. We have a small clinic that opens once a week, because finding veterinary doctors who are willing to volunteer has proved difficult. In addition to that, we don’t have a full-time doctor. We have a good working relationship with veterinary doctors that are willing to work for free, but the process of and the materials needed to transfer these animals from where they are to clinics is sometimes difficult. Not only that, but where would the animal continue the treatment period? In our offices, that doesn’t exceed about 80sqm we do have cages to put animals in but these cages can’t accommodate for more than 10 animals at a time. Moreover, the problem is bigger than this, we need a full-time doctor to help these animals as long as they are being treated, we also need to pay this doctor for his time and effort and the medicine he will be using. It is indeed just a cat and we have to help her, but at the moment, we simply don’t have the finances nor the materials to do so.
Not only that, but sometimes we receive calls about animals that need to be isolated from other dogs, humans too, as to not infect them. Also, these dogs require a long treatment period, doctors who are professional and have the ability to handle these situations, and a wide special place for them to live in. Even if we get the funding and the place for these animals to live in, how many animals can we treat and help if we don’t eventually find a new home for them in the absence of working judicial policies that protect these animals and help manage how they breed in a humane way.
My kids often ask me why don’t I help all animals, why don’t I find new homes that are suitable for these animals to live in? Animals were created to live in peace around us, they’re capable of living in this environment if humans didn’t hurt them. If we do find a place for these animals to stay in, we need to promote the adoption culture in order for these animals to find a safe place to live in. If we weren’t successful in getting these animals to new places to live in through adoption, we need to accept that these animals are a part of nature.
I won’t pretend that we have enough experience to catch an injured dog or a suffering cat, we lack the training for this and for the safety measures needed to ensure that the team is safe and sound, such as vaccines for transmitted diseases, protective gloves, nets, cages, sticks and many other things that require a permit from the occupation, such as anesthesia guns and many more things that are easily obtained in other countries. The cases that we deal with need training and special equipment in order to be dealt with safely, this isn’t a hobby, this is a field that requires us to be trained extensively.
Sometimes we get forced to deal with cases and to act as a shelter or a rescue center in a time that we don’t have the required experience nor the required training to perform such tasks.
“If you can’t rescue this dog then why do you even exist?” this is something that we get regularly too. It is easy to make a phone call or to send a text message but acting is much more difficult. If we weren’t able to help the animal we have to face the backlash and the many criticisms and questions about our existence. We all need to stand together, and do more than just making a phone call, we have to act and take initiative. For example, you can help in providing a vehicle or pay for the transfer process. We have a network of vets that are willing to work for free, we need however a place for the animal to recover in and a person to take care of that animal, and after that we move to the process of finding a new home for that animal.
We are working very hard to change the way that people look at animals and how they treat them and we wish to rip out these problems, stem and root. We are working to raise awareness on how to deal with animals, and we’re also working hard to form pressure groups that will help us change the current situation from a legal stand point. Moreover, we are working to promote veganism, a diet that relies completely on plants, we believe that veganism isn’t just a diet but a way of life, manners and values.
We are working tirelessly to promote the culture of adoption, accepting that animals are your new friend in your own house, garden or even in the street. We’re not worried about whether or not we fall under the categories of animal welfare or animal rights, what we really care about is finding a safe place for animals, and to raise awareness towards accepting it.
Then why not demand that? Why not build shelters?
It’s not easy to do all that, simply because funding for this kind of thing is very scarce, because we don’t work for a political party and we refuse to promote such thing. We do what we do because we believe that this is an honorable cause. We are sending many funding requests, we often get shut down because the funder doesn’t believe that we need this kind of funding, and sometimes because the funder doesn’t understand why we need the funding, and local funding is nonexistent.