A Palestinian doctor dolittle, Saeed el-Aer who cared for strayed dogs in Gaza said that in spite of the many challenges in the area, he had dedicated himself to treating strayed animals.
Gaza faces many problems ranging from conflicts to homelessness, power cuts and a lack of fresh water.
For several months, Aer had been trawling the streets of the territory looking for abandoned canines, winning their confidence, feeding them and restoring them to health.
Aer, a government employee said; “we tour the streets and distribute food for days or a week until they got used to us and then we catch and bring them to the Sulala Society for Training and Caring for Animals.
“It’s costly and time-consuming work and I spend as much as 20,000 dollars on caring for 50 dogs so far, including vet bills and the rent on a fenced-in 2,000 square-meter farm where they are housed.’’
At the farm in Zahra, South of Gaza City on the coast, young volunteers fed the dogs by boiling chicken wings and legs in a large pot over a wood-fired stove.
He said the animals were kept in chains when they were first brought, but that as they became more domesticated, they were freed to roam and see visitors.
“They know me very well now, said Aer, 45 and as soon as I arrive in my car, they pop up from all over the farm and come running to me.
“Dogs are considered unclean in Islam and are usually kept outside, but there is no ban on them.
“Caring for animals and pets is one of the tenets of the faith, and having a guard dog or one that helps with hunting is not uncommon.’’
Aer had been surprised by the number of Gazans, who want to visit the kennels and care for the dogs.
The society’s Facebook page had proved popular and volunteers help train and walk the animals through the streets of Zahra.
Nasser Taqqeya, a 48-year-old father of six from central Gaza said; “I love dogs, and am planning to adopt a dog called Rex.
“I will take him home so my kids will play with him and he will guard my house.”
With several thousand strays estimated to live in Gaza, a territory that is barely 40 km long, 10 km wide and home to more than 1.9 million people, Aer knows he has his work cut out for some time to come.
Aer is hoping more people will decide to adopt a dog, as long as they are willing to sign up to the rules. (Reuters/NAN)