Dogs abandoned during the pandemic are looking for family
Many pets have been abandoned due to the pandemic, either due to the economic or health situation of their owners, or due to unfounded fears of suspected infections.
Izzy was so emaciated that she was barely standing when she was found with other cubs in a desert in Qatar, a rich country in the Gulf where many pets were abandoned in the midst of the new coronavirus crisis.
Born from a cross between several breeds, this little dog almost died before being adopted by a family living in Germany.
Many other pets were less lucky. With the economic slowdown caused by the pandemic, many expat families could leave the country, abandoning their animals.
We had a wave of calls for help. We've already received some, confirms Alison Caldwell, co-founder of the PAWS Rescue Qatar, who saved Izzy.
Stray animals are exposed to many dangers, to which in Qatar are added summer temperatures that reach 50 degrees.
In the early days of the epidemic, PAWS witnessed an increase in the number of abandonments, because some families feared that their animals were a focus of infection. Others were left alone when their owners fell ill.
Since March, the virus has killed 113 people in Qatar out of the 95,000 registered infections. The country has 2.75 million inhabitants.
We have already had a small influx, but there is nothing we can really do, says Alison Caldwell.
PAWS estimates that there are tens of thousands of stray animals in Qatar.
Izzy was adopted in April by a German family who read her story on the PAWS Facebook page. But with the sudden suspension of air traffic, imposed to curb the spread of the coronavirus, dogs adopted abroad remain locked in Qatar.
From her home near Bremen in northern Germany, Christina Fuehrer says she is waiting for flights to resume so Izzy can come.
Meanwhile, the dog temporarily lives with a foster family.
We have decided that it would be a good thing to do this summer, because obviously we are not going anywhere, said Julie Melville, who welcomed Izzy to stay with them.
PAWS uses "flight friends", volunteer passengers who transport an animal as a baggage supplement, to take it to the adoptive family.
PAWS was founded in 2014 by two British expats in the face of the large number of stray and abandoned animals in Qatar, a gas-rich country where many foreigners live.
It is financed by donations and has a temporary accommodation service for pets. The association accommodates 60 cats and 30 dogs, but members of its volunteer team tend to other animals as well.
It has contributed to the adoption of around a thousand animals, many of them abroad, where Saluki hunting dogs, Persian Greyhounds from the Middle East, are attracting interest.
Animal cruelty is a major problem in Qatar, according to Hester Drewry, due to lack of education and the incessant flow of expatriates who generally live in the country for short periods.
To raise awareness about animal welfare, PAWS gives talks at schools.