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A rising trend in the region is the adoption of pets, and most people opt for a dog or a cat. But some don't realise the energy and commitment required to care of them. Image Credit: AFP

The Gulf in the Middle East remains one of the most exciting regions in the world. From the splendours in the cities of Dubai and Doha to the rising challenge from neighbours Riyadh and Neom, it is an area of diversity, hope, and challenges.

Most residents have been fortunate in their quest for comfortable living and have acquired some trappings of luxury and economic vanities that accompany increased spending power. One rising trend is the adoption of pets, some of whom are exotic, such as lions and tigers, but majority of people opt for a dog or a cat.

An incident this past week highlighted an issue that often is neglected in the media: the abuse of animals, direct or otherwise. I was at a friend’s house when a howl and a shriek from somewhere near their kitchen startled us. We rushed to the source of the noise and saw a small dog trying to bite the leg of the housemaid, who had just arrived. Quickly he yanked the dog away while the mistress of the house rushed to attend to her housemaid.

A pet ownership gone wrong

With the wound bandaged, their son was instructed to take the terrified lady to the nearest clinic for an examination and treatment. As we sat in silence in the living room in a mild state of shock, the dog lay at the feet of his owner, the mistress of the house. Her rapid breathing was a clear sign that she was very upset while her husband tried in his small ways to comfort her.

After a while, she spoke, with tremors lacing her words. Admitting that she was not a trainer and not very active with age hindering her, she declared, “I am going to have to put him down. This is the second time he has bitten someone, and most protocols call for an animal to be put down if they are repeat offenders.” What she was suggesting is that the dog be euthanised.

What do you expect of an animal confined all day in an apartment, and who rarely is taken out for long walks where he can see other people and not feel threatened to the point of attacking them?


I asked her if her dog’s vaccination was up to date; fortunately, it was. As we sat in silence with the dog curled at her feet, her son soon returned from the clinic. The housemaid was given an injection, and her wound was bandaged. Needless to say, she hobbled around the apartment but came nowhere near the dog.

As the son sat down and related the instructions of the clinic, he heard the mother declare that she was going to put the dog down. The son looked at her and, in a somewhat admonishing tone, said, “Mother, how can you let an animal be killed when you, as his owner, never really bothered to put in the effort to get him properly trained? Just having a cute little pet is not enough. Is it really his fault when he has not been properly trained near strangers? This was your dog and your responsibility, and is it really fair to him?”

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“What do you expect of an animal confined all day in an apartment, and who rarely is taken out for long walks where he can see other people and not feel threatened to the point of attacking them? Is just holding him and cuddling him enough?” The mother, who was in tears by now, was sobbing and blurting out that she did not want to do it but had no option. I quickly interjected and told her that various pet adoption clinics would help take the dog off her and, with some remedial coaching, would find him a home elsewhere.

This somewhat lifted the morbidity of the atmosphere as her husband got on the phone searching for pet clinics to set forth some action. I soon left, wishing them luck, but not before quietly advising my friend to act upon finding the dog a home with owners who had the youth, energy, and commitment to raise animals. The dog was simply too cute to be put down.

Neglect is an abuse, as is not following and fulfilling the demands of pet ownership. If you cannot handle such matters to the letter, it’s best you confine yourself to watching them on YouTube clips rather than bringing them into your house and allowing them to run wild. It is not their fault.

— Tariq A. Al Maeena is a Saudi sociopolitical commentator. He lives in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Twitter: @talmaeena