Dog shelter vs. cat shelter in Slemani, Kurdistan

Interviews 09:59 AM - 2022-02-26
 PUKmedia / Julia Zimmermann

PUKmedia / Julia Zimmermann

In all Islamic schools, they teach that you have to be merciful to all creatures, including dogs, all forms of cruelty are forbidden. The majority of the Kurdish population is Muslim, so why do they have such problems with dogs? 

A dog shelter opened two months ago in Arbat, Slemani because there were too many complaints about stray dogs in the city's center. According to the citizens, the dogs were hurting people and disturbing them.

The dog shelter project was established by Slemani's Municipality to collect the dogs and bring them to the shelter. At the time PUKmedia visited the shelter, it contained 450-500 dogs. 

The females with their puppies are in the bigger area because they are more than the males, who are in a second, smaller area. 

The first impression at the shelter is the strong smell coming from too many dogs in one place and the carelessness of cleaning up the excrements.

The dogs are fed meat twice a day from 3 companies and butcher shops: Dawd Company, Frouj Fresh, and Rebin Fresh, the Deputy Manager of the shelter, named Aso told us. Unfortunately, the pieces of meat are too big for the puppies to swallow, so they still rely on their mother's milk for longer than it should be. 

Also, the smaller dogs get attacked by bigger dogs over food because normally, the smaller dogs should again be separated from the others to avoid fights, says a Volunteer from PAK Organization to PUKmedia at the protest. 

The PAK Organization is a non-governmental volunteer organization that protects and rescues animals in Kurdistan. They have been helping and advising the shelter before and after its opening, especially during the freezing winter, until the incident, where they found hundreds of dead dogs near the shelter. 

The PAK Organization stopped their support and gave a public statement on their social media. A protest was held to demand the closure of the shelter because they claim that the dogs are deliberately killed.

What does Islam say about dogs? Some of the Islamic schools teach that keeping a dog inside the house or touching a dog is haram. Especially the saliva of a dog is considered as unclean and impure but according to the Qur'an, having a dog to guard the house or to hunt for oneself is acceptable. 

"They consult you concerning what is lawful for them; say, Lawful for you are all good things, including what trained dogs and falcons catch for you. You train them according to God's teachings. You may eat what they catch for you and mention God's name thereupon. You shall observe God. God is most efficient in reckoning." -Qur'an 5:4

The opinion about cats though is different. The prophet Mohammed himself had a cat named Muezza and spoke very fondly about cats. 

Many households in Kurdistan have cats inside the house as pets. The cat shelter, named Feelinefrenz, in Saholaka, founded by Banu, a young woman and cat lover speaks for itself. 

Her story begins when she ran out of housing options and decided to open a shelter. With the help of Qubad Talabani, who helped her privately with paying for the little cat houses and six months' rent upfront. Under the condition that she finds a way to become self-sustainable. Her idea is to finance the shelter for sick and hurt cats people bring in, with a cat hotel, where cat owners can bring their cats when they're away on vacation. 

Banu employs two people, a veterinarian, and a cat sitter, who come in every day to take care of the cats. Sometimes volunteers help out, and thankfully the veterinarian, Doctor Akam, provides the shelter with litter and food. 

Until now, Banu pays a lot from her own salary to maintain the shelter, but with her passion and love for cats, she will soon make it work.

On the other hand, the dog shelter isn't accepting any more dogs after the incident and the protest. The dogs that are still alive and in the shelter need better food and a cleaner environment to survive the hot season that is coming.

Reported by Julia Zimmermann, Besha Jawhar

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