Owners of Fancy Lebanese Villas Sue to Close Down BETA Animal Shelter

animal rights, conservation, CITES, animal cruelty, Lebanon, BETAThere are 250 rescued animals living at the BETA animal shelter just outside Beirut; too many for fancy villa owners.

It should come as no surprise, after seeing the video of the Ethiopian maid Alem Dechasa being beaten by her employer, that Lebanon also has a deplorable animal rights record. We recently featured the devastating massacre of thousands of endangered fruit bats in a cave, and frequently learn about other animal abuses in a country that is not a signatory to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

Formerly an architect, Helena Hesayne left her career to care for Lebanon’s abused animals nearly a decade ago, CNN reports, but now fancy villa owners are trying to shut down the shelter that she help to found.

animal rights, conservation, CITES, animal cruelty, Lebanon, BETA

Ladies who love animals

“It started with passionate women who were feeding cats and dogs on the streets, and they met around a garbage bin and they decided to join forces and to help,” Hesayne told CNN.

They then opened Beirut for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (BETA) in 2004 and have since cared for more than 1,500 mostly domestic animals.

Of the 250 animals living in the shelter at present are a dog named Bernie, who had been covered in gasoline and set on fire when BETA rescued him, and a labrador named Carra, who was shot in the face. These are just two of the upsetting cases that the women face on a daily basis.

Another BETA pioneer and public relations expert, Sevine Zahran told CNN that the cruelty she witnesses is very difficult to share, but she tries to educate and raise awareness among the people.

animal rights, conservation, CITES, animal cruelty, Lebanon, BETA

A new home for BETA

Now BETA risks losing their entire operation because nearby villa owners overlooking Beirut have sued them to evacuate their premises, so they are looking for new land to house the rescued animals that have virtually nowhere else to go. But Hesayne claims that nobody wants dogs around.

Like Egypt, Lebanon has never been celebrated for its protection of either domestic or wild animals. In 2010 we featured a distressing story of circus animals that were horribly abused. A lion cub was so badly neglected its paws were infected, while tigers and other cats were kept in paralyzing cages.

But lack of protective legislation makes it virtually impossible to take the country to task. BETA has been lobbying government to improve their laws, but their voices have been drowned out by other “priorities.”

Animals Lebanon has closed down three zoos in the past and are campaigning hard to get the country to join CITES. They are currently cooperating with World Animal Health Organization and the Lebanese Ministry of Agriculture to draft and enact national animal welfare legislation.

A recent photo campaign launched by Fashion Beirut is another sign that the country is becoming better attuned to animal rights. The group’s mantra is: “best friends are not meant to be abused.”

:: CNN

More on Animal Rights in the Middle East:

Thousands of Endangered Fruit Bats Gunned Down in Lebanon

Abuse of Circus Animals in Lebanon Challenges Lack of Legal Framework

Fashion Beirut’s New Photo Campaign Says Animal Abuse is Wrong

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7 thoughts on “Owners of Fancy Lebanese Villas Sue to Close Down BETA Animal Shelter”

  1. John R Holt says:

    Proves it’s a world wide problem: compassion and conscience sold out for the sake of fancy and fashion. God protect Beta Lebanon and their missio of Honor. John/ Sixth Day Animal Stewardship, Lantana, Florida

  2. Meem Radwill says:

    Taffine, I am in Oman where we are trying to start an official animal shelter so we can do some fund raising. Currently there are two unofficial shelters for cats and dogs. A peitition has been raised and hopefully something may come of it.

  3. Denise z says:

    The owners of the villas I meant…….

  4. Denise z says:

    I saw this on CNN and it brought tears to my eyes. I hope the owners lose and the courts have a heart. I hope many people around the world lend their support to BETA to help them not only win their fight but to grow bigger and stronger and change not only the laws but the attitudes of people everywhere who are cruel and neglect animals.

  5. Thank you Meem. Are you also in Lebanon?

  6. Meem Radwill says:

    Kudos to these brave people who are doing something instead of sitting back and doing nothing. We are trying to to something similar and it always heartening to find like minded people in other countries. I hope they succeed in their endeavours to better the lives of abandoned and abused animals. God bless them.

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