Animal rights activists in Lebanon say it’s becoming difficult for people to keep their pets because of the economic situation in the country. Tens of thousands of Lebanese have lost their jobs or seen their income reduced to almost nothing due to Lebanon’s worst economic crisis in decades.
As many families struggle to make ends meet, activists say more and more pet owners ask for help to feed or re-home their animals, sell them, or abandon them in the worst cases.
Ibrahim al-Dika had to sell his beloved Belgian shepherd Lexi to repay a bank loan. After losing his father to illness, Ibrahim was laid off last year when his employer went bankrupt. He had a hard time supporting his mother and brother.
“It got to the point where I was no longer able to feed her, the bank was pressuring me, and I hit a wall,” the 26-year-old Ibrahim told AFP. “I didn’t sell a car or a telephone. I sold a soul. I sold a part of me.”
A few days after selling her. he went to see her. Lexi thought he had come to take her home. “She leaped straight into my car,” Ibrahim said. “She broke my heart the way she looked at me.”
Many Lebanese depend on non-governmental organizations to feed their pets. Amal Ramadan, 39, receives free bags of food for her pit bull and bichon, Nelly and Fluffy. Her monthly salary working in car rental, once equivalent to $1,000, is now worth just $120 because of the Lebanese currency’s sharp devaluation.
“I don’t have enough income to feed my pets,” she said, adding that she would rather starve than give up Nelly and Fluffy.
At the Woof N’ Wags dog shelter in southern Lebanon, volunteer Ghada al-Khateeb takes care of a female dog who was rescued from a trash dump. Ghada said pet abandonments were rising: “Nobody can afford to feed their dogs anymore.”
The animal welfare organization Animals Lebanon, based in Beirut, tries to give animals a better life abroad. Hips and Edward are two cats at their shelter. Hips was hit by a car and is paralyzed below the waist. Edward was dumped in a box in the streets in November. Hips and Edward are set to travel to a new life in the United States.
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