It’s not easy being an animal in Jordan. One of our pair of mini-dachshunds escaped to the street last November and was killed in a hit and run. Distraught, we called friends asking what Amman regulations were regarding burying an animal. We were told to drop Toby in the trash can, leave him in the street, toss him in an empty field, or set him on fire: I can only guess this heartless advice was well-intended. We buried Toby in our garden.
I understand the Islamic attitude toward dogs: a majority of both Shi’a and Sunni Muslims consider the animals to be unclean, and it’s uncommon for practicing Muslims to keep dogs as pets. There is contradiction, as it’s written that the Prophet Mohammad advocated kindness to all animals.
Ex-pat friends have since told stories that will make your tail curl. Neighbors, annoyed at a dog’s barking, fired a shotgun over a garden wall and blew off its head. Others left bowls of poisoned meat out for a pair of poodles to munch on, they experienced an excruciating death.
Perhaps this isn’t as extreme as the Chinese practice of cooking pups alive, but dogs and cats suffer a terrible existence in Jordan. Rejected by the local population as little more than vermin, they are also targeted by well-publicized government elimination campaigns that include inhumane Strychnine poisoning and mercenary snipers (gunmen are paid by the number of kills).
Children regularly torture animals, dousing them in acid, setting them afire, and mutilating their tails and ears with rough knives and razors. A rural practice to “toughen up” puppies involves hacking off their ears and then forcing the animals to eat them. Cats are moving targets for lethal rock-throwing, and following heavy rainfall, they’re often drowned in standing water.
Working animals also suffer immensely. They are beaten, starved, dehydrated, and tied with tight wires or ropes that, over time, grow into their necks.
The Humane Center for Animal Welfare is the sole animal shelter and hospital in Jordan, a private humanitarian facility dedicated to raising awareness, particularly in poverty pockets, and providing mobile veterinary services for working animals across the Kingdom. There are other rescue groups run out of private homes by animal lovers with unflagging dedication. (I’m fostering a pup from one right now – oh, who am I kidding? He’s a keeper, look at that face!)
Interested in making a difference? Start by signing the AVAAZ petition (<-direct link there) to urge the Jordanian government to immediately stop brutal killing of their stray population. They also seek to implement an improved “Animal Protection Act”, and to enforce that law. Share it with friends and post it on your Facebook page.
Are you local to Amman? Stop by the Humane Center for Animal Welfare – Jordan’s ersatz petting zoo where at any time you can see monkeys, eagles, peacocks and turtles (in addition to rabbits, guinea pigs and an astounding array of cats and dogs all available for adoption). Check out their website for volunteering opportunities. They also seek steady donations of goods and, of course, money.
Or if you are interested in simply fostering a local dog (all ages available), drop me a line and I’ll put you in touch with one of the privately run shelter groups.
Image of injured dog courtesy of Jordan’s Humane Center for Animal Welfare – NOTE: He fully recovered!