QATARI authorities are snatching pet dogs and cats considered stray from the streets ahead of this month’s World Cup, an animal rights charity has said.
paw rescue Qatara branch of the Doha-based British charity Paws Rescue UK issued the chilling warning just days before the controversial World Cup kicked off.
He shared a photo of a miserable-looking dog in a cage in the back of a van, apparently after being snatched from the streets of Doha.
The group claimed that pest control companies had been allowed to round up the animals and remove them from the streets.
He warned that although the scheme was supposedly only aimed at stray animals, several pet owners had come forward to claim their beloved cats or dogs had been taken.
The charity wrote on its Facebook: “Public Information Announcement. We have received many concerned messages from members of the public about dogs or cats being managed on the streets or their own pets disappearing.
“We have now been informed that certain pest control companies are now allowed to collect them under an agreement.
“This has been seen many times in Qatar by many people.
“Unfortunately we and many others involved are unable to verify where they are being taken and what plan is in place for them. This is to raise awareness.
“We were told that if you are missing a dog or cat and are trying to locate them, you should write in the
official route to the Director of the Animal Husbandry Department with details so that they can investigate the case.
“At this stage, we don’t know if anyone has succeeded.”
The Sun Online has contacted the Livestock Department of the Qatari Ministry of Municipalities for comment.
A spokesperson for one of the shelters run by the ministry in Qatar categorically denied that any pets had been snatched from the streets.
They told The Sun Online: ‘We provide medical treatment and a safe place to keep stray and abandoned dogs.
The spokesperson added that the shelter has been running so-called TNR (trap, neuter, return) programs in Doha “for many years”.
They said Paws Rescue Qatar had been invited “many times to visit and volunteer” at TNR programs, and insisted, “We don’t chase people’s pets.”
Pest control companies are now allowed to collect them under an agreement
Paws Rescue Qatar
The spokesperson continued: “If we receive an official complaint about stray dogs, we will first help the situation and see if we need any medical help from the vets.
“After catching them, we scan them for a microchip to contact the owners.
“If they are not microchipped, we transfer them to the clinic and put them in the medical isolation area for 15 days.”
Qatar’s dismal animal rights record has come under scrutiny recently, as the eyes of the world prepare to turn to the tiny Middle Eastern nation for the showpiece football tournament.
In July this year, outrage erupted after 29 dogs were slaughtered at an industrial complex in Doha.
The animals were shot by men armed with shotguns, who threatened the factory guards before opening fire on the animals.
Among the dogs killed were several puppies, as well as heavily pregnant females.
Qatari authorities said police were investigating the killings, which sparked an outcry even from the country’s leader’s sister, Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad Al Thani.
The motive for the killing was not immediately clear, although activists say dogs are often treated appallingly in the Gulf state, where some believe Islam considers dogs “unclean”.
An activist said the killers told security guards that “a dog had bitten the son of one of the men”.
However, the compound was reportedly cordoned off with high fences, meaning no children could approach.
Activists said when the men showed up, the dogs ran towards them thinking “they were going to be fed”.
But instead, “the men started shooting at random,” the activist added.
Animal rights groups say that in recent years there have been numerous instances of animals such as dogs and birds, including flamingos, being used as targets by gunmen.
Paws Rescue Qatar claimed that Qatar’s laws prohibiting cruelty to animals are not enforced.
A 2004 law criminalizes ill-treatment, but its application is inconsistent, according to rescuers.
Last year, animal rights groups warned that a growing number of stray dogs was leading to an increase in reported abuse.
The country has long struggled with abandonment of wanderers by expats returning to their home countries, but the end of Covid restrictions is believed to have increased that figure.
Additionally, lifeguards warned in 2021 that construction projects ahead of the World Cup were forcing more and more wanderers into residential areas, where they are at greater risk of abuse.
A rescuer, who asked to remain anonymous, said he receives calls almost weekly to rescue dogs that have been deliberately run over or even put down.
“The suffering we see is terrible and it is getting worse,” they said.