BSPCA volunteers tell us about Bahrain's newest animal welfare centre
Time Out Bahrain staff
Bahrain now has just over 1.2 million people living within the kingdom, and it has its fair share of animals too – but not all of them are able to look after themselves. That’s where organisations like the Bahrain Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (BSPCA) come in. This non-profit organisation, run by volunteers, was set up in 1979 by a group of committed and passionate animal lovers. ‘We are dedicated to the welfare of animals in Bahrain and the care of injured, abandoned, lost, mistreated or homeless animals brought to the shelter,’ administrator Louise Edwards informs us.
These days, the running of the society is handled by the executive committee, who, along with other members of the various sub-committees, are volunteers and work tirelessly to promote the care and protection of animals. ‘The shelter personnel consist of the operations manager, the society’s vet and the kennel staff, who clean, feed and care for the animals,’ Louise explains. ‘Volunteers are encouraged to visit at weekends too.’
Operating as a charity, the BSPCA is regulated by the Ministry of Social Development, under the auspices of the Non-Government Organisations Department, but it does not receive funding from the government.
All funding comes from the Thrift Shop proceeds and donations – these are needed regularly, with food and accessories for the many animals in constant demand.
Animals are carefully looked after upon arrival at the shelter, as Louise explains: ‘All animals go into quarantine for two weeks, and during that time are vaccinated, wormed, front-lined, and all male animals are neutered. Once out of quarantine, they are put up for adoption.’
The shelter works hard to find animals new homes, and Louise is quick to reel off a list of success stories concerning cats and dogs they have returned to health. ‘Recently, we had a golden retriever, Samson, who was brought to the shelter in early August in very bad condition,’ she says. ‘This was mainly due to being left outside in direct sunlight with very little food or water. Samson is now on his way to making a full recovery, he is kept inside and is eating well, and getting lots of vitamins. He is now looking much better, as his hair is growing back and he is putting weight on, but he still needs a lot of care before he is ready for adoption.’
To help its animals, the shelter is always looking to have the most effective modern facilities at its disposal. In 2008, plans for the new Animal Welfare Centre were drawn up, and the land at Askar levelled off. Work began in March 2011 on constructing the main buildings of the new centre. ‘Many commercial companies have rallied round and provided their support, expertise and materials free of charge, for which the Society cannot thank them enough,’ Louise reveals.
And in addition to the new centre, the volunteers are being kept busy by the shelter’s Trap, Neuter and Release (TNR) programme for compound cats. They are actually encouraging Bahrain’s public to help out by bringing any stray male compound cats to the shelter for neutering. More info on the BSPCA number.
There is also a fundraiser being held this month – to raise money for the new centre, and also for the TNR programme, with a sponsored dog walk. ‘The route is 4km in length and will be marked out with water stops along the way to ensure both the human and the canine participants can quench their thirst,’ says Louise. ‘Purina, the shelter sponsor, has generously provided umbrellas and water bowls for the various pit stops, as well as free Purina treats for each entrant. There are many prizes up for grabs too, including a digital camera, a skateboard signed by an international boarder, and a funky watch, as well as six months’ supply of dry dog food for the walker who returns to the starting line first.’
There will be stalls selling home-baked cakes and biscuits, and the Diplomat Radisson Blu’s superbly-organised outside catering team will be slaving over a hot barbecue to provide everyone with burgers and sausages. The event is on Friday, October 28, starting from the new Animal Welfare Centre at 10am.
But if you can’t make it, the society is looking for support in other ways. ‘We are always looking for more volunteers, so people are welcome to sign up to the BSPCA,’ says Louise. ‘We would also encourage the people of Bahrain to spay or neuter their own pets, and any other animals they may be feeding to prevent unwanted pregnancies. Donations of food or supply items to the shelter are always appreciated, as is the donation of items for resale at the Thrift Shop.’
For more info, contact the BSPCA shelter (17 591 231) or the Thrift Shop (17 593 479). Until the new Animal Welfare Centre is up and running, the shelter is currently located in Shakoora, close to St Christopher’s School, and the Thrift Shop is in Budaiya. The sponsored dog walk will be held October 28.
13 Cases of wet cat food consumed per month
56 Amount in kg of dry cat food consumed per month
85 Bags of wet dog food consumed per month
157 Amount in kg of kitty litter used per month
1,279 Animals taken in by the shelter so far
2,000 Amount in kg of wet dog food consumed per month