It’s this time of the year when everybody is taking off to their perfect summer escapes or travel back home to visit their loved ones. It’s the time when you see thousands of pictures on the social media of cute pets laying down in suitcases or hiding in backpacks. It’s the most stressful time for pets when their owners travel and leave them home alone. Although some have the money to spend on a summer holiday outside the country, not everyone is financially capable to secure a safe place for their pet while they’re away.
Unfortunately, on that point are no accurate statistics on the number of pets abandoned by their owners because of travel, but in Kuwait these cases abound during the summer. "I will open the door to them, they can survive the street life," Thus said a lady who refused to put her cats in a boarding service. “In Kuwait, abandonment cases increase and adoption rates go down during the summer. I’ve seen some owners who tie their dogs in front of my house and run because they know that I run an animal shelter”. Ali Al-Saadi, is a 29 yr old man who himself has suffered when he was young because he wasn’t able to keep his beloved dog after his father gave him someone else. He took an oath, since then, to run a shelter for pets whom their owners are no longer capable to look after them. He offers boarding services for those who don’t want to give up their pets completely. “They can do anytime to visit their pets and play with them. I keep them with me for a minimum total of money and care about them myself with three helpers. I promote my shelter “5la_3ndy” through Instagram, and right now, I care for more than 70 pets.
Not all boarding services in Kuwait are licensed. Some which will exploit pets left by their owners in mating. To emphasize, I contacted randomly a cat hotel in Kuwait, run by a young lady. The moment she knew that my cat is a pure breed she offered me to mate my cat and share the profit of selling her kittens. With this attention, some people leave their pets with friends and family members, only if they’re lucky enough to find one who’s willing to help.
Hussain Al Qatari, (PR officer), travels between 2 weeks to 1 month usually. “I always let his friends or family take care of the cats when I am gone. They get a key to my house and visit whenever they can. I also leave an extra supply of water and food to be on the safe side” said Al-Qatari.
Like Hussain, Norah Al-Mansour, (teacher), prefers people she trusts to care for her darlings. “ I’ve been a pet sitter myself. Sometimes, I pet sitting cats and dogs by going to their home to change their water and feed them. It’s a huge obligation to care pets as they might get injured under your care. You might require to be careful as you might put your own pets at risk when you pet sit someone else’s. I wouldn’t do pet sitting for strangers though. Pet sitting is important for those who travel a lot and don’t have family to help while they’re away”
Norahis very passionate about animals and their quality of life. She’s been taking in orphaned and injured animals and bringing them home and offer them for adoption through her Instagram account (@animalshields). Thishas only been possible due to the support of her loving mother. “ Kuwait needs more shelters and it’s my dream to have one some day as I can only do so little from home”.
“Most pets are comfortable with routine. Vacations and boarding usually mean that the animals' routine is changed. This can be due to changes in location, hours of activities, people, food etc. All this can cause stress to animals.” Jameela Al Nakkas, Veterinary Technology Senior Student (Australia). She said that the favorite thing about being a vet tech is client education. “We are responsible for teaching clients how to care for their pets such as what food to feed, housing, parasite prevention and general care. In addition, it is part of our jobs to be supportive and caring especially during euthanasia, for clients and for the staff”.
Al-Nakkas mentioned that some animals are okay with change and most adapt pretty quickly, but it can be considered somewhat of a stressor. Friends and family are usually better for pets to stay with if they are familiar with their carers. “With boarding facilities (pet hotels) and hospitals, it is essential to make sure the animal is up-to-date on their vaccines and is not immune-compromised (too young, too old, has an immune system disease, pregnant) to avoid catching any diseases. Some places even require special vaccinations to ensure that that doesn't occur (such as the kennel cough vaccine).
She continued ”In general, boarding is a stressor and stress (a mental health issue) has effects on physical health as well, especially for young, old, pregnant and immunocompromised pets. Also, with animals that have separation anxiety issues, being away from their primary carer can be very difficult for them. I personally prefer boarding services that are qualified (and that meet international and personal standards). Pet sitters are also a great option that is usually greatly less stressful for the animals”. “Moving the animal can be made easier by slowly getting the animal used to the new place or carer, using calming tools such as food, supplements, sprays, etc. A vet can also prescribe anti-anxiety medicine if possible. Bringing toys, blankets, food may help as well” added Al-Nakkas.
“Boarding services are overpriced in Kuwait. The facilities are in fact, inconvenience. Facility owners do not take into consideration the fact that the pets will be brought away from their comfort zone and familiar territory, and that there is a risk of getting diseases and infections from other animals. I would much rather that my pets stay at home in their territory”. Hussain Al-Qatari was only finding out the prices for the boarding services affiliated with pet hospitals and clinics. “I wouldn't trust the ones run by individuals who are not dedicated full-time for this task” he explained. On the contrary, Ali Al-Saadi believes that his shelter, 5la_3ndy, has helped to give a second chance for both pets and their owners to remain together.
Planning your next holiday, tour or safari? Think in advance about the destiny of your pet. Don't leave it all to the last minute. Having pets should be taking seriously and as not as some do, who buys them to entertain their kids, and with the first problem, they get abandoned. “The pets in our house are an important part of our daily life. My family and I cannot imagine how to live without them. We have three cats. Keeping animals in the house is not just a luxury anymore. I feel it is important because they're our companions. They add so much: in my case with cats, aside from killing and catching pests occasionally, they also create a very loving atmosphere that takes away from your everyday stressful routine” concluded Al-Qatari.