(MENAFN - Arab Times) "Controlling the growing population of stray dogs and cats in Kuwait by poisoning them is inhumane, ineffective and un-Islamic and it must be stopped," stated Nadia Al Kandari, Kuwaiti animal activist and retired investigator in the Ministry of Interior on Tuesday during a lecture forum on animal cruelty and animal rights dubbed "You can help us save animals in Kuwait "organized by the AWARE Center in Surra.
Al Kandari together with local photojournalist Claudia Farkas Al Rashoud tackled cases of animal poisoning, effects of animal poisoning to animals, people and the environment, measures taken by animal welfare groups and steps that need to be taken by the residents and citizens as well as the government to finally stop animal cruelty in Kuwait.
Al Kandari and Al Rashoud cited in their lecture presentation that with the inhumane ongoing official policy of poisoning stray dogs and cats, the status of animal rights in Kuwait has reached a new low.
Added to that, the widespread practice of dog fighting, illegal importation and breeding of wild animals that are unsuitable or dangerous as pets, dismal conditions in the animal section of the Friday Market, and other unpunished acts of animal cruelty all tarnish Kuwait's reputation in the international community.
"There are about 5,000 stray dogs in Kuwait as well as a huge number of feral cats that have been subjected to animal poisoning everyday," disclosed Al Rashoud. She cited that the Public Authority for Agricultural Affairs and Fish Resources (PAAAFR) has contracted a local company to carry out the animal population management control by poisoning them.
"Poisoning a stray animal results in very slow and very painful death.
It can take as long as several days to kill an animal and this is against Islamic principles. There is a fatwa (official religious ruling) against cruelty to animals, so whether or not you like dogs, poisoning them is definitely haram," pointed out Al Kandari.
Al Rashoud explained that animal poisoning is ineffective in placing the population of stray animals under control as many animals do not identify the poison as food while humane methods are a better alternative.
"Animal poisoning poses danger to rare wildlife as well as pet animals that accidentally ingest a poisoned pellet placed randomly in parks and other sites. It can even kill a kid strolling in a place where poisoned dog food that sometimes comes in sugar cube is scattered around," she cited.
She highlighted that humane population management strategies are better and have been carried out successfully for animal control, citing a pilot program of one animal welfare group done in the Ahmadi area that was funded by the Kuwait Oil Company. The program follows the guidelines of the World Society for the Protection of Animals.
"Those who are trapping the animals must be well trained and supervised to ensure that the program is carried out as humanely as possible.
Years ago, another animal welfare group, PAWS had meetings with the World Society for the Protection of Animals who came to Kuwait and offered to train staff for such a program, free of charge, but unfortunately, local authorities did not agree," she said.
Al Kandari added that stray dogs captured using proper equipment can be sterilized, vaccinated and released to a non-residential area while those friendly dogs can be sent to the shelter and be evaluated by the animal welfare staff for possible adoption. For stray cats, one can follow a spay or neuter and release program. "After sterilization and vaccination, cats are released where they were found while friendly cats should be turned over to area shelters for possible adoption.
Al Kandari and Al Rashoud shared some cases wherein animals that died of poisoning are left to decompose in the streets posing grave threat to human health while others that don't end up in one of the shelters suffer from accidents, injuries, extreme heat and coldness or some die from the cruelty of people.
Al Rashoud stressed the need for the strict implementation of Animal Laws in Kuwait which are rarely enforced. "Kuwaitis can speak to their MPs on how the Animal Laws can be implemented. Some of them might take it as a joke but if you care about this issue, let them know that you're serious. We have to start somewhere," she stated.
Al Kandari and Al Rashoud also cited the need for a massive education and information campaign on the human treatment of animals among the public. "Kids at school can be taught of the importance of treating animals humanely," pointed out Al Kandari.
Al Rashoud also called on the residents and citizens to have their own share in going out of their way by reporting stray or injured animals to concerned authorities. She also suggested that an animal welfare hotline should be installed similar to the emergency hotline 112. "If we could have the Arab Spring then we could also have the Animal Spring," she stated eliciting some positive reactions from the audience. She then concluded the lecture with a quote from Mahatma
Gandhi: "The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated."
The lecture presentation was followed by an open forum wherein attendees mostly animal lovers and animal activists shared ideas on how to promote animal welfare in the country. Others were also urged to sign an online petition addressed to the PAAFR to stop animal poisoning as a method of animal population management control.