Dogs and cats are commonly known as man’s best friends. While they reduce stress, they increase our happiness and joy, are our companions and playmates for children and share the same roof and food with us – they are family members. This is why we need to protect them at all times, especially now.
During the recent period of curfew, I have been following several shocking videos, reports and images from around the world that show animal cruelty cases that have been reported in the last three months. I saw a video from an Asian country where shop owners shut their shops during the curfew and left animals to starve to death for a week, until a few of them were rescued by animal rights activists.
I believe that animal abuse is a common practice in both rural and urban areas in many countries. Unfortunately, some cases of animal cruelty are never reported, making it difficult to make an accurate estimation on how common they are. But we can use the information we have today to build a case to make the right global call to prevent more cases of abuse around the world.
I know that it is common, especially now, for people to consider that humans have priority, so animal rights are not viewed in earnest. I also think some may make excuses to be cruel to animals or at least throw them out of the house. They may intentionally ignore the fact that when a pet lives all its life in a house, it could easily fall prey to accidents on the streets by humans or cars.
I know very well that many countries of the world, including Kuwait, have animal welfare laws. Kuwait issued such a law in 2015. The law stipulates penalties of up to one year imprisonment and a fine of KD 1,000 for anyone who abuses, neglects or offers animals for sale while being sick or subjects them to scientific experiments without a license. Likewise, in many European and Asian countries, the laws do not prevent harsh practices against a large number of animals. I believe the Swiss animal protection law to be the best, as it stipulates that when dealing with an animal, its dignity and existential value must be respected, with strict laws that penalize animal abuse.
According to the classification of the World Index for Animal Protection, Switzerland is the only European country that requires all dog owners to provide them with an electronic chip and register them in a central database. As for cats, they should be in daily contact with humans or other cats.
We are in need for education to the public that cats and dogs cannot transmit the novel coronavirus to humans, but they may develop low levels of the disease if it is transmitted from infected people. This conclusion was reached by the Hong Kong Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, after a quarantined dog was found to have a small percentage of the virus. There are also theories that talk about the relationship between animals and the virus, but none of it has been proven to date.
We need more foundations for animal welfare and they should have an allocated budget within the government’s national budget, and no veterinary hospitals should be working on their own. Please remember that dogs and cats are vulnerable animals and may fall victim to illness or death in case of neglect or abuse.