A week before it was set to close its doors for good, the Qatar Animal Welfare Society has been granted a last-minute extension by its landlord to continue operating on a farm just west of Doha.
The news, which organizers announced in an open letter posted last night, is the latest twist in a nine-month saga that has kept Qatar’s largest animal shelter – and the residents who support it – on tenterhooks.
Last December, QAWS announced that its rental contract had run out, and had until May to find a new home.
But now, its landlord, who is part of the ruling Al Thani family, has granted a six-month extension, provided that QAWS pays QR17,000/month in rent (as opposed to QR10,000, which they paid until they were hit with a penalty after May).
In the letter, organizers write about their plans for the future:
“After much soul searching, we have come to the conclusion that we HAVE to continue to strive to keep QAWS open…
BUT……. (and there always is one!)…… The only way we can go forward and continue to operate QAWS is to pursue registered charitable status. We are delighted to be able to advise you that we finally have some backing and our very own wasta to help us achieve this and we sincerely hope this will ultimately lead to QAWS being where it needs to be.”
While non-profit status is pursued, QAWS is asking residents to volunteer to become a part of a core team that manages daily operations.
Organizers added that because the fate of QAWS remains uncertain, new animals will only be taken on an emergency basis.
The shelter, which was founded in 2004, provides abandoned dogs, cats, rabbits and other animals with food, medical attention and regular care as they await permanent homes. It is supported solely by public donations.
When QAWS announced that it was searching for a new home, several people stepped up to help the group, as did governmental bodies, including the Central Municipal Council and the Ministry of Municipality and Urban Planning. However, no agreements were reached on a suitable plot of land.
Despite the difficulties, organizers said they are determined to move forward. Speaking to Doha News, QAWS board member Lucielle Burger said:
“We haven’t given up because one look at the animals with insecure futures break our hearts and makes it impossible to walk away. Along with our supporters and volunteers who keep us going with their constant encouragement.”
She added that any assistance with fundraising or other daily tasks from volunteers would be greatly appreciated.
Credit: Photo by Nasser Al-Saadi