Lebanon war animal victims still need help
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, October 2006:
BEIRUT, HAIFA–More than a month after Hezbollah militia
members quit rocketing northern Israel and Israel quit bombing
southern Lebanon to try to stop them, animal rescuers continued
efforts begun under fire to help the many nonhuman victims.
Best Friends Animal Society rapid response manager Richard
Crook, a Chilean veterinarian, and a vet tech flew to Lebanon on
September 7, 2006 with 175 pounds of kitten food, along with
veterinary supplies, en route to help arrange the evacuation of
about 300 dogs and cats to the U.S.
Calling the evacuation “Paws for Peace,” Best Friends
reportedly raised $182,000 of the estimated $300,000 cost of that
project and other rescue work in Lebanon and Israel before Crook’s
“Maggie from Beirut for the Ethical Treatment of Animals
(cofounder Marguerite Shaarawai), called us with an emergency,”
e-mailed Best Friends president Michael Mountain. “No kitten food.
And nothing available from other countries in the region. We tried
Turkey, Cyprus, Greece. Nothing! And while there are tons,
literally, just across the border in Israel, it’s impossible to
bring it in from there. We’re aiming to set up a supply from western
Europe, but that will take time. And the kittens can’t wait.”
The continuing disruption on the Israeli side was less, but
only in mid-September did many of the front-line rescuers find time
to tell their stories.
“Our former shelter manager, Sharon Lewinger, and his two
friends Moti Sherman and Liat Gettagno, heard about the plight of
abandoned animals in the northern communities, where many families
fled the continuous rocket attacks,” Rehovot SPCA international
relations coordinator V. Santar told ANIMAL PEOPLE.
“The three of them collected funds to buy plenty of food for
the animals, and traveled north to distribute the food. They took
the city map of Kiryat Shmone, the town most continuously bombed and
shelled, divided every street among themselves, and left food for
the stray dogs, and visited every shelter for the same purpose.
When they learned that the children in the air raid shelter also
lacked food, they traveled south to the safer places and bought
basic food to give to the hungry ones. They also visited invalids
and old people. One was a blind old man with three dogs and a
parrot. They left him a week’s supply to last until their next
visit. They visited Kiryat Shmone twice, always under heavy
shelling, bombs falling around them.
“The Rehovat SPCA rescue van, donated by the Royal SPCA
International, was on heavy duty,” Santar added, bringing two lots
of seven dogs each on 10-hour round trips to the north and back after
the fighting ended.
“Unfortunately,” Santar said, “most of the dogs arrived
without a tag or microchip, so we do not know who their people are.”
Santar noted that one dog was reunited with his person on August 28.
“It was an honor to serve the people of the north by helping
to find temporary solutions for their dogs, cats, and other pets,”
recounted Let The Animals Live cofounder Eli Altman. “Some 600
people asked us to find temporary domiciles for pets who sadly could
not join them in central and southern Israel. Some 1,500 good people
called us or emailed, offering their services,” fostering the
“Many people volunteered to help drive dogs and cats from the
north southward,” Altman continued. “In some cases people drove to
the bombarded north just to save a small rabbit or a blind cat.”
Among the rescues that Altman recalled most vividly was one
that “occurred in the first week of the war. A man in the army
reserve told us about parents and three children, who tied their dog
to a post, got up on a train and went south. The dog managed to free
himself from the rope and ran after the train as fast as he could.
The man ran after the dog for a few kilometers, until he managed to
catch it. The dog is now in good hands. I am worried about the
children of the family. I think about how they might have cried on
the train, about the trauma their parents forced on them, about the
ugly example these parents gave to their children, and about how
these children will never know what happened to their beloved dog.”
Altman reported one frustrating incident when, “Seeking ways
to ease the difficult situation in the city of Tiberias, Let The
Animals Live staff member Anat Refua contacted city veterinarian
Amnon Or and proposed to help finding homes for 24 abandoned dogs at
the pound, who were likely to be put down.”
Or refused the offer, causing Let The Animals Live to seek
his removal from office.