By Sumayyah Meehan, TMO
The stray animal population in Kuwait has been a problem for years. It gets worse every year, as more and more animals are evident on the streets, at parks and on public beaches. The problem begins with pet owners who purchase pets from abroad or locally in Kuwait. Once the animalâ€™s cuteness wears off, or caring for it becomes problematic, irresponsible pet owners simply release the animal out into the streets leaving it to fend for itself. It is quite normal to see cats digging through garbage dumpsters. Increasingly, more and more dogs are sharing a similar fate. Packs of dogs troll the streets of Kuwait looking for scraps of food. In two separate incidents, stray dogs scrounging for food attacked residents.
There are animal organizations in Kuwait trying to handle the pet population. PAWS and Animal Friends are just two organizations that try to get animals off the streets and adopted into loving homes. However, the dynamic of the pet population in Kuwait is ever changing. Exotic wild animals are flooding the black market in Kuwait, with some even being sold out in the open at flea markets. There is a huge demand for exotic animals in Kuwait with bidders willing to pay top dollar. This poses an enormous challenge for the animal organizations in Kuwait who are not prepared to handle the capture and care of dangerous animals.
The Internet has also proven to be a handy tool for animal traders looking to sell their animals fast and as anonymously as possible. On a popular classifieds ad site in Kuwait, a user recently listed a veritable menagerie of exotic animals for sale, the ad reads: â€œWe have tamed big cats, bush babies, chimpanzees and African gray parrots available. We offer only the tamed babies of 4 to 16 weeks from our collections. Our game reserve at the moment holds well tamed cubs to offer to big cats lovers; cheetah cubs, jaguar cubs, leopard cubs, black panthers, lion cubs, Bengal tiger cubs, white Siberian tiger cubs, jaguar and leopard cubs now available.â€ The ad goes on to say that the seller also has chimpanzees, baby elephants, gray parrots and other exotic animals from Africa.
Pet owners, domestic or exotic, are not required to apply for a license in Kuwait. Police usually do not get involved with pet ownership unless someone is injured and often that is too late. Exotic animals do not fare as well as domestic ones once the owner gets bored. Many times, the animal is hunted down and shot for sport.