The Bahrain Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals celebrates forty years of supporting animal welfare in Bahrain.
In December 1979, six concerned residents registered a charity to promote animal welfare and prevent acts of cruelty, with the first Executive Committee elected in 1982. Without funds or official meeting place, a small team of volunteers called the “Flying Squad” rescued injured and sick stray animals for treatment at local vets. Temporary accommodation for the animals was found at a stables, and small private donations funded their care.
In July of that year, the BSPCA opened the Animal Shelter in Shakhoora, near Saar. It was a modest set-up, with kennels for 30 dogs and a small cattery in a donated portacabin, but the facilities serve their purpose, and over the next 29 years, they improved and expanded, with the additions of a new cattery, a small vet clinic, and a reception office. The Shelter became the place of last resort for abandoned animals, and from where the BSCPA found them permanent, loving homes. It became a favourite place for locals to visit and help clean, groom, exercise and socialize the animals. Over the years, thousands of cats and dogs were rescued, and many families’ beloved pets owe their existence to the Animal Shelter in Shakhoora.
Shakoora was eventually re-designated as residential land, meaning the lease would be terminated. In 2003, His Majesty King Hamad bin Essa al Khalifa graciously granted the Society land near Askar, and focus shifted to building a state-of-the-art Animal Welfare Centre (AWC). Progress was dependent on fundraising. Plans were drawn up in 2008. With the generous support of local engineering and construction companies, the Centre was completed in 2012.
The Animal Welfare Centre in Askar is a world-class animals rehoming establishment, housing approximately 80 dogs and 30 cats, in addition to those in quarantine. It provides a healthy environment, with large living and playing areas space for the animals, as well as a stable for donkeys, a duck pond and an aviary. The AWC also houses a large vet clinic, a classroom for school visits, and offices. The BSPCA continues the good work previously done at Shakhoora, with hundreds of animals still being adopted into permanent, loving homes every year.
THE BSPCA TODAY
The Bahrain Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is dedicated to combatting animal suffering and cruelty in its many forms and through engagement with all levels of society.
Bahrain’s oldest animal charity is best known as somewhere families can adopt dogs and cats, who were abandoned and left to fend for themselves. Hundreds of animals are saved every year. But this is just one aspect of its work. As important is tacking the causes of animal abuse and mistreatment, and promoting solutions: publicizing issues, educating the public, investigating abuses and lobbying for reform.
Over its four decades, the BSPCA has built a strong reputation in the Kingdom for its experience and professionalism, and this has gained the Society unprecedented access to law enforcement agencies, government officials, the media, schools, and businesses.
The BSPCA helped the government draft the first Animal Welfare Law, which outlawed all forms of animal cruelty, and helped steer the bill through the Parliament.
Working with the police, the BSPCA brought about an end to the practice of shooting stray dogs, and is now regularly called to attend cruelty and welafe incidents. The BSPCA has helped bring many perpetrators of cruelty to justice through the courts.
The practice of dog and cock fighting has also been in the Society’s sights. Years of undercover surveillance by BSPCA staff and volunteers, coordinated with police raids, has largely stopped the international criminal rings that organize these events coming to Bahrain.
Ever since the Kingdom of Bahrain joined CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species), the BSPCA has been helping relevant authorities with monitoring and advice. The BSPCA has played a leading role in improving conditions in local markets, and has helped drive sales of exotic animals underground.
THE FIVE ANIMAL FREEDOMS
- Freedom from hunger and thirst (food and water)
- Freedom from discomfort (shelter)
- Freedom from pain, injury and disease (medical care)
- Freedom to express normal behavior (exercise)
- Freedom from fear and distress (love and understanding)
WHAT CAN I DO FOR THE STRAYS IN BAHRAIN?
Bahrain has thousands of stray dogs and cats suffering extremes of heat, humidity, thirst, hunger, disease, accidents and cruelty.
Their lives are dangerous and short, and their deaths lonely and brutal. They also breed prolifically, and every year thousands more puppies and kittens are born into a harsh and unforgiving existence.
Thanks to the BSPCA’s publicity, advice and lobbying, and pressure from local communities, in 2010, the Ministry of Municipalities set up a public hotline and dog catchers. Dogs are neutered and relocated to designated zones to be fed and cared for by members of the public. The BSPCA is grateful to the many dedicated and generous people who, alone or in informal groups, give time and resources to provide for those animals.
But there are many more dogs and cats needing help. The greatest help that you can provide is to prevent yet more uncared-for animals being born. The average female dog will give birth to 6 puppies a year, and the average female cat twice that.
The BSPCA has been promoting the neutering and spaying of pets and strays since its inception. To break the endless cycle, the BSPCA asks people with pets, or who are feeding stray cats or dogs to have them neutered at one of the many local vets. The BSPCA itself offers a limited free neutering service for stray dogs and cats from the Animal Welfare Centre in Askar. Please call 17591231 in advance to enquire about availability and book an appointment.
CELEBRATING FORTY YEARS OF HELPING ANIMALS
The BSPCA will hold its Fortieth Anniversary celebration at the Gulf Hotel on 28th November, featuring a music, dinner, dance, raffle and auctions.
The charity receives no government funding, relying entirely on proceeds from the BSPCA Thrift Shop and individual donations. But money is very scarce, and the Society needs your generous support for its essential work.
All proceeds will go to supporting our many operations advancing animal causes, including the Animal Welfare Centre in Askar, school educational visits, emergency call-outs for animals in distress, free neutering of strays, and lobbying governmental authorities. For tickets, call Rachel on 6660 8901, or ask at the Thrift Shop or Animal Welfare Centre.