When Christie was rescued from the streets of Doha in 2014, she was in bad shape.
A group of people were pelting the neglected, malnourished and injured saluki mix with bricks when a Qatar Animal Welfare Society (QAWS) volunteer saved her.
Christie, who was named after the good samaritan, has come a long way since those difficult days. She recently moved with her owners to Scotland and this month won first place in a local dog show.
Speaking to Doha News, former Qatar resident William Lawson recounts his pet’s journey.
Finding a family
After her rescue, Christie was nursed back to health and living a relatively normal life with other dogs at QAWS.
Lawson and his family members regularly volunteered at the shelter, which is often in need of people to walk and care for the animals.
He said as they continued to visit Christie, the family found it harder to leave her behind. He added:
“The situation at QAWS is heartbreaking – dogs and cats are abandoned every week at the gate, and although under tremendous pressure to feed and care for these animals they are never turned away.
The staff and volunteers are amazing working in these very challenging conditions – especially during the summer months. This was one of the reasons we decided to take Christie back with us to Scotland with our other dog a cocker spaniel named Bobby, whom we also bought in Doha.”
Lots of attention
Being an unusual breed in Scotland, Christie tends to get a lot of attention from passersby, Lawson told Doha News.
“Everyone comments on how lovely a dog she is and are quite fascinated that she came from the deserts of Qatar,” he said.
At the recent dog show, about 100 dogs were in competition, 25 of which were from Christie’s category. But the animal still managed to bowl over the judges, Lawson said.
“We never imagined she would win first prize and were absolutely delighted,” he added.
Animal abuse is a crime in Qatar that is already punishable through fines and jail time, but there is no penalty for abandonment, and enforcement remains lax.
So while Christie’s story has a happy ending, many other dogs in the same boat have not been so lucky.
During the summer months, hundreds of dogs and cats are abandoned as people leave the country on holiday or for good, because it is too expensive or difficult to take their pets with them.
Currently, there is no government effort to house abandoned animals. There’s been talk of building a new public 3,000 square meter animal shelter in Umm Salal for years, but this has yet to materialize.
However, there are five rescue centers in Doha run by volunteers who do their best to care for these animals. Still, many are constantly running out of space and funds.
Complicating the matter is that many pets living on the streets are often in bad health, requiring extensive – and costly – medical care to return to full health, a requirement before shelters can find them a new home.
QAWS is Qatar’s largest animal shelter, and also one of its oldest. It has been through rocky times in recent years, almost losing its lease on its farm just west of Doha in 2013.
Though it has since worked out that issue, the shelter continues to struggle to stay afloat.
“Our biggest single expense each month is our rent – QR17,000 – and we desperately need help in raising the money to keep a roof over all the heads of the 360 animals in our care over the difficult summer,” the post said.
In the long-term, QAWS leaders have told Doha News that they urge anyone who is considering adopting a pet in Qatar to research the costs of caring for and exporting an animal in advance.