Guest post: After death of kitten, Qatar resident calls for overhaul of pet souq

When 18-year-old Qatar University student Ramy Khalaf bought a kitten from Souq Wagif a few weeks ago, he had no idea he would be mourning her death five days later.

Khalaf, who hails from Egypt, shares his experience here.

By Ramy Khalaf

Snowy was purchased from Souq Waqif on Dec. 8, 2011. Having just moved to Qatar, I was completely unaware of the infamous reputation that preceded the Souq Waqif animal traders and none the wiser of how feeble and disease-ridden the animals being sold there were.

Snowy had a vibrant personality and was a very active little kitten. After looking around for quite a while to find the perfect addition to our family, Snowy’s charm made her the perfect candidate. Upon request, the merchant produced a vaccination record for her which turned out to be fake. I proceeded to strike a deal with the merchant and couldn’t wait to have her explore her new home.

Snowy takes a turn for the worse

The first thing I did when I brought her home was feed her as she seemed quite hungry. Due to her intolerable smell, I gave her a quick bath. 

The next day I took her to the Qatar Veterinary Surgery where she was checked for dehydration and similar signs of sickness. She had already spiked a fever and was experiencing loose stool. After purchasing the prescribed medication in order to treat her, I took her to the government vet the next day in order to check her temperature and see whether her fever had settled. She was now at a healthy temperature and it seemed that her condition was improving. 

The following day she had blood in her stool which made me extremely worried at which point I headed back to the Qatar Veterinary Surgery in order to have her tested for bacteria or worms which could be causing this. She was given IV fluids and antibiotics while the tests were being run for her. Her condition was steadily deteriorating throughout the day and by the time I took her to get her second shot of fluids, she was completely inactive and could barely move. 

During the night, she got to the point where she was barely breathing and eventually passed away. This had a truly devastating effect on us as we had managed to get very attached to her within the short period of time she spent with us. In five days, she had went from a perfectly healthy kitten to a memory of what could have been.

What happened?

The vaccination record I received from the Souq Waqif vendor is fake. A kitten as young as Snowy is not entitled to vaccinations until she reaches the age of two months. Any practicing veterinarian should refuse to vaccinate a kitten at this age. 

The vaccination record also happens to be from a veterinary clinic in Egypt which raises suspicion that these records are printed out in mass and sent here for a fee. To add to the suspicion, the report is brimming with spelling mistakes and “Cat” is all they could conjure for the ‘Name’ field. The rest of the fields including DOB are left blank.

Having acknowledged that the kitten is under two months old, it is obvious that she was taken away from her mother at an age below that which is required as an international standard since a kitten is unable to cope without her mother at this age let alone whilst being exposed to the massive amount of diseases which linger amongst the cages where they are held. Qatari law states that kittens and puppies below the age of four months old are not permitted entry into the country!

Once Snowy was diagnosed with possible worm & bacterial infections, earmites, and hypothermia, it was already too late for the medication (totaling at 602QR) to help save the poor thing due to her being extremely weak and too young to cope. I still have medical records of all the medicines I paid for to help her get better, some of which remain unopened because she passed away before they could be administered.

A call for accountability

I do not aim to be reimbursed by sharing this experience nor to complain for the sake of doing so. 

What I want is for two things to happen: 

The market needs to be completely shut down to prevent the inhumane conditions and suffering these animals have to endure before possibly dying due to their diseases as was the case with Snowy. These activities are not only abusive but are illegal according to the state law which begs the question, why are the authorities knowingly allowing this?

If not shut down, the second alternative would be to have this market exposed for what it really is so other people like me who might’ve just moved to Qatar know how bad the conditions in this place and to prevent the devastation this whole situation has put us through.

Doha residents have raised concerns about conditions at the pet souq before

What do you guys think?

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