Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs
Kuwaiti Dogs Looking for Loving Homes in Washington, DC
"THESE ARE some of the nicest dogs we've ever taken in," said Communications Officer Elise Ledsinger. It was a sentiment that was echoed throughout the Washington Animal Rescue League facility. Juanishia Lee, an adoptions coordinator, was impressed. So was Gary Weitzman, the organization's president and CEO.
"Especially when you think of everything these dogs have gone through," he said. First there was the fire, then they were penned in the desert, and finally they were shipped to the United States. "It shows you just how incredible dogs can be."
When Kuwait's only animal shelter in Safat was destroyed by an electrical fire on March 22, killing 39 animals, the Animal League Friends of Kuwait was faced with a crisis: 60 dogs with no place to go. As a temporary expedient, they had to be crated or kept in the greenhouse. Homes in Kuwait were found for two-thirds of the dogs. The Humane Society International swung into action and contacted the Washington Animal Rescue League about the remainder.
"Between 70-75 percent of our animals come from other shelters," Weitzman said. Nonetheless, they had never accepted a shipment from so far away. If the League had any reservations, the Kuwaitis quickly allayed them.
"The people there made it so easy," he said. They carefully crated the dogs, after veterinarians had thoroughly examined them. All dogs had papers (in English and Arabic) declaring them in good health and free of disease. The long flights had to be postponed by the volcanic dust that hung over Europe, so instead of one shipment, the dogs were sent in batches. In the end, the Washington shelter will receive about 30 dogs.
"These dogs are so sweet," Weitzman repeated. "Even when they first arrived after the long flight, they were all sweet and friendly."
They contrasted dramatically with other dogs at the shelter that had been taken in from Mississippi. Those animals had been taken from a "dog hoarder" who had kept over 175 dogs in her trailer and on her property. Those dogs had arrived hairless with mange and starving, their bellies swollen with parasites.
"We are here for animals with no other place to go," Weitzman said. …