A day in the life of a Palestinian dog

Dog in Palestine

There are many different types of dogs in Palestine. Most common and well know are the Canaan dogs. Canaan dogs are supportive, impulsive, dedicated, and enjoyable. Also known as the Palestinian Pariah Dog, its origin can be traced back to time immemorial, Bedouins have used this dog for guarding their herds and camps.

Up till now, the stray dog population is conceivably one of the most visible animal welfare problems in Palestine. For instance, stray dogs can be elucidated as Street dogs. They live practically all over the place mostly concentrated near people. A lot of them are pets that have strayed from or are abandoned by their owners. The stray dog will search for shelter, and forage through garbage whenever they can.


Where do these dogs find shelter?

A dog needs a clean, comfortable and safe environment to live in. Yet, it is very difficult to find such places here in the west bank. In the winter months it rains a lot and temperature can regularly drop down to 5 deg Celsius. And in the summer tempratures can rise as high as 50 degrees Celsius making finding water hard! The stray dogs here in Palestine will find a tree or an abandoned property for  shelter. Luckily there are some small organizations that have campaigns in order to help these dogs. They provide shelters in the cold, rainy, and wind seasons.

What do these dogs eat?

The quantity of food necessary all depends on the dog’s size, breed, age, and level of exercise, within certain circumstances. Usually in Palestine dogs strive to get food in order for them to get energy after midnight where most people have slept. They will look in garbage tanks or hunt down bones in the ground. With no food stray dogs suffer from hunger. Having to live in a society yet not educated on dogs is a very tough task.

Private people helping with the stray dogs

There are many independent people helping dogs find shelter and food. They are usually in terrible condition with matted hair and skeletal bodies, some are full of fleas, and some are just unhealthy, need proper nutrients. There are many teenagers working on rescuing and adopting dogs, helping them with broken limbs or bones.

Palestinian Animal League (PAL)

In Palestine, Israel’s occupation and military checkpoints, intrude citizens and the impending threat of invasion are daily realities, creating other priorities other than animal welfare for many people. Despite this fact, Ahmad Safi founded the Palestinian Animal League (PAL). He has established a charity in Ramallah in 2011. This was one of the first charities in the west bank. Regardless of all the countless challenges this charity faced it puts all the efforts at the forefront of animal safety in Palestine.

PAL has a number of chief projects that rescue and treat street dogs, cats, horses, and donkeys. Safi explains the aim of this program is to encourage settlers to modify their outlook about animals.

Sulala Society for Training and Caring for Animals

A similar campaign to PAL Zahra, south of Gaza city on the coast is the Sulala Society for Training and Caring for Animals. Young volunteers like, Saeed el-Aer have dedicated themselves to help stray dogs. Despite the conflicts, everyday struggle to survive, homelessness, power cuts, and a lack of freshwater, Aer searches the streets looking for deserted dogs. He feeds them and gets them healthy again. Aer explains how they gain the animal’s trust, “We tour the streets and distribute food for days until they get used to us and then we catch and bring them to the society”.

Dog with no leg
Sulala Society also helps dogs with prosthetics

The youth volunteers feed the dogs with chicken pieces boiled in a huge pot over a wood-fired stove to save electricity and gas. Subsequently, the animals that are new to the farm are first put on chains to avoid danger, however when they show discipline these chains are removed and the dogs are free to wander in the 2,000 square-meter (0.5 acres) farm where they live.

It is estimated that several thousand strays reside in Gaza; in a territory that hardly covers 40 km (25 miles) long, 10 km wide in addition to dwelling over 1.9 million people. Sululal organizations provide education via the volunteers who help train as well as walk the animals within the Zahra streets, as these volunteers also explain how “You have to feed him, offer him water, not beat him”. This organization follows up with their dogs and if the adopting owner does not stick with the rules the dog is taken back to the organization.

First ever dog show in Gaza City

For the first time ever, Gaza city held a dog show on February 5, 2016, in the Al-Kuteiba park of Gaza City. A remarkable number of canine breeders and lovers took part in this occasion. This show was to encourage the breeding of dogs within the Gaza strip as it traditionally ceased from owning dogs due to cultural reasons. One of the organizers clarified that “The turnout was a lot larger than we expected, and a lot of people came with rare dog breeds, including some brought in from Israel, and others brought from Egypt through the tunnels.”

First Dog Show

Do families have house dogs in Palestine?

Palestine has evolved as it is not rare to find a family raising a dog anymore. In view of the fact that families raised dogs if they owned land or specifically owned a farm. However, from the religious aspect, dogs are forbidden to be home pets.They are not outright banned but they are seen as unhygienic and are not allowed in the house!

That being said owning a guard or hunting dog that stays outside is not rare. In the last years Palestinians have become more educated and are starting to have house dogs. Many Gaza Settlers visit the Sulalal organization to look at the dogs and maybe take one home.

Palestinian dog in front of wall

Dogs are sweet with those who treat them well, as the saying goes treat other beings the way you want to be treated.

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