Sunday, 13 July 2008

A Four Legged Friend

She was found by a passer-by. Tied to a piece of rope on wasteland in the scorching summer sun, she lay exhausted. It was a pitiful sight. Her ribs protruded from her thin frame; her back legs were misshapen and unable to hold her. She looked sadly at the stranger with sunken eyes. The passer-by called Micky Samo who immediately dispatched a volunteer to collect the dog.
Today, that same dog, Kfitz, is a boisterous and energetic resident at ‘Haver al Arba’ (four legged friend), the charity which provides a home for abandoned and mistreated animals. Her bushy tail whacks everything in sight; her shrill barks heralds any newcomer at the gate. "She is one of the lucky ones" explains Samo, "many never regain their trust in humans; they remain withdrawn or extremely aggressive"
She sacrificed a lot: her marriage, her life …
In the area of the orchard she is hoping to build – despite fierce opposition – a large shelter. The number of dogs coming in is unbelievable. All said there are around 600. Dogs, cats, goats, donkeys, horses and… I have one labourer and the rest are volunteers. Alas not enough.
The situation in the country has had a very negative effect on animal welfare. Instead of an increase in awareness for animal welfare, including spaying, vaccination and medical treatment, the number of abandoned animals has increased dramatically. The economic situation has exacerbated the situation; many are leaving the country and a abandoning their pets, others simply can’t afford to keep them. You cannot believe the cruelty that some people inflict on this helpless creatures. We have dogs here who were simply left outside the airport, as their owners left the country. The local authorities who pick them up put them down, but those who find their way here are never put down.
I don’t believe that we have the right to kill a healthy, happy animal.
At the beginning of the year, I woke up to find a box containing a whole litter of six puppies. This dog

In the summer I received a beautiful dog who had been butchered by a carving knife; a whole chunk of her back was simply cut off. You have to see it; you cannot imagine it. She was found by residents of a Moshav. They brought her here in the middle of the night. We had to operate on her and finally we found a home for her.
We have a dog here, Dana, who was abandoned in Eilat, an Alsatian mixed with Husky. She gave birth to a litter in the middle of the road. A young soldier found her and called me (his family had once adopted a dog from here) and El Al arranged, as a token of goodwill, to fly the dog to Sdeh Dov airport where I picked her up. When she arrived here, with six pups she was dehydrated and confused. It was impossible to touch her in the first two weeks. She was so aggressive that it was impossible to even put a muzzle on her; she immediately bit me. She is here now. And this is her home.

People want little cuddly pups, but once the dogs grow up, it becomes difficult to find them a home. There are many animals here who live here permanently. There is always hope to find good homes, but many won’t. There was one woman who took an old Labrador who was abandoned at old age. But this is more the exception than the rule. Realistically, there are old, infirm or unattractive animals here who will not find a home and this, here, is their permanent home where they feel loved and wanted. This is not a transitory rescue centre; it is an animal sanctuary. Some of these animals you see here have been subjected to unimaginable cruelty. If I can find a better solution; that’s great, but otherwise they stay here. At least 70% stay here permanently
I need to buy the food. Some food companies give me damaged stock for a reduced price; but nothing is free. We need at least 5 tons of dry food for the dogs, pups and cats. I also feed the pups goat milk which I milk.
A woman wanted to get rid of her goat farm. She was going to send the entire herd to the abattoir. I heard about this and immediately contacted her. Now they are here. Some were pregnant and that’s how I hit on the idea of milking them.

Of course with the economic downturn, the number of financial sponsor has plummeted and the flow of donations has virtually dried up. "It is a constant struggle". What little resources I have I invest directly in the upkeep of this place; there is nothing that goes to public relations or advertisement.
I have six volunteers who each have their own area of volunteer She receives a pitiful amount from a government grant. Also people who adopt an animal pay for the animal.
I have one vet who treats the animal for free; another who only charges for the alut and a third who charges at a reduced rate.
Many people are callous, careless and indifferent.
"A number of years ago a woman and her young blind daughter turned up here looking for a dog for the girl. I asked the young girl if she would be willing to look after a small blind dog I had just taken in, victim of a horrific fire. The girl immediately agreed’. It was an immediate bonding. I brought the dog and placed it on her lap. And there they were two innocent creatures trying to feel each other without being able to see each other. It was truly touching.
I have a dog called Irma (Knaanit). She belonged to Bedouins in the South. Her leg was caught in a trap set by Thai workers. When she was found. She was brought here and what I saw was simply horrific: her leg was totally crushed. We immediately drove her to a vet for emergency operation. He was unable to salvage he leg and eventually it was amputated. This dog was a goat herd dog, used to rounding up goats. She is one of the liveliest dogs here. (pic for photo).
Shimshon is a magnificent Alsatian. During one of the suicide bomb attacks his leg was blown off. Someone brought him here. He is a lively, loveable bubbly creature now.
Last week, I was driving to Ramleh when, on the way, I saw a young Arab child leading a young she-ass and beating her with a rod. I stopped the car and asked him what he was doing and he said that he had her for many years. Eventually I paid him to have her and I hoisted her into my Subaro. There she sat like a queen on the back seat. She is a wonderful addition to our manegarie. Her name is now Basma – meaning ‘smile’ in Arabic."
I am a single-mother, looking for a rich husband. She laughs heartedly.
Her girls (adopted from Guatamala three years ago) love their home. They don’t need or want computer games or Barbie dolls; they play here with the animals whom they adore. They feed them, take them for walks, and look after them. They feed milk to the new arrivals.
Cats are placed outside in boxes outside. The kittens are at home because they need attention round the clock.
Many of the dogs live in harmony with the dogs. Some of them sleep with the dogs.
She has 400 dogs, 200 cats, 9 dogs, 2 dogs, 36 goats and a few hens.
She has 30 Dunams slated for a shelter is about to built. There will be a special area for the dogs and an area for the cats. It will be ideal for them. She is reliant on contributions for this project as well as for the daily running of the charity.
The current situation has brought a reduction of more than 60% of adoption . About 50% of those who turn up here I don’t allow them a dog. I vet them carefully. Dogs are not toys. I work on the assumption that the dogs have a good home here, so I only give them away to homes where they’ll be happier.
In 2000 she was awarded the volunteer prize by Prime Minister Barak and Minister and the Environment Dalya Itzik for her voluntary work in the protection of animals.
Tucked away at the far end of the moshav. I think it’s an essential service. It’s an important life work. I will build a place for these animals. This is my life work. I will not break I am saving a lot of lives and sparing the suffering of many.

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