DUBAI: Saudi Arabia’s animal welfare issue comes to light after a video of a group of young men appearing to torture a dog by lighting firecrackers in its rectum goes viral on social media and calls for violators to be punished It is gaining attention again.
A hashtag meaning “punish those who set animals on fire” from its original Arabic has been circulating on social media platforms for days, with users calling for stricter enforcement of rules against animal cruelty.
Saudi Arabia has strong animal protection legislation, which in 2013 signed a Gulf Cooperation Council-wide law on the humane treatment of animals.
But according to animal welfare advocates who spoke to Arab News, law enforcement has not yet caught up with intent.
The Kingdom takes cruelty and cruelty to animals very seriously. Under Saudi Arabian law, the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture can impose a fine of 50,000 riyals ($13,300) for the first offense and double it for the second offense.
Third and fourth abuses will be fined SR200,000 and SR400,000 respectively. In more serious cases, offenders can lose their license to operate or even face jail time.
The ministry “provides a way to report ill-treatment and torture through its website and these reports are taken seriously,” lawyer Waleed bin Nayef told Arab News in October 2021. rice field. Saudi Vision 2030 Reform Plan Objectives.
The law requires that animals, including goods, be provided with suitable facilities for pets and livestock to be handled by adequate numbers of qualified staff with the necessary competence, knowledge and expertise in animal welfare. provides broad protection against
It also requires animal caretakers to feed animals in sufficient quantities for their species and age to maintain their health.
Governments around the world recognize the importance of protecting animals. One reason for this is that animal cruelty often occurs alongside other forms of interpersonal violence against people and property.
In the United States, data collected by the FBI supports the view that tackling animal cruelty can help reduce other crimes such as aggravated assault and vandalism.
“Some studies say that cruelty to animals is a precursor to bigger crimes,” said Nelson Ferry, who works for the FBI’s Criminal Statistics and Control Division, in a statement highlighting the agency’s work in the area. Stated.
But according to Saudi animal welfare advocates, neglect and cruelty to animals is considered common in the kingdom, and while laws are sometimes enforced, most abuse is documented. even) remain unpunished.
The 2021 Animal Rights Index, produced by San Francisco-based data company The Swiftest, ranked Saudi Arabia 50th out of 67 countries. Only 29 violators of animal welfare laws were fined that year.
“This is what you get when you have one government agency that acts as the legislative branch that makes animal welfare laws, and that also acts as the police and enforces the law. It is the same agency that acts as an official and is the beneficiary from paying for those violations,” Princess Moudhy bint Fahd Al-Saud, head of the Saudi Animal Welfare Association, told Arab News. Reports of animal cruelty.
“Vision 2030 includes full implementation of animal rights if we can bring it to the direct attention of our blessed Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. As we have geared towards the provision of social services to blend in..there are laws we need, we just need to implement them.”
Animal cruelty and neglect are said to be particularly common in Souq al-Hammam, south of Riyadh.
Animal lovers regularly share frightening videos of kittens, puppies and rabbits being sold in souqs, crammed into tiny metal cages without food or water in the scorching heat.
The market has been operating for over 20 years despite repeated calls for it to close. Animal lovers say some shops sell wild animals such as desert foxes, monkeys and other exotic species, ignoring Saudi laws against the sale of wild animals.
“Despite not adhering to the laws adopted by the Kingdom and breaking many other laws regarding animal welfare in general, the Souq al-Hammam is still running and operating,” told Arab News. rice field.
He said Saudi authorities usually take action when videos of alleged abuse in souks go viral on social media, but “no steps have been taken to shut down pet shops there.”
Fellow animal welfare advocate Faisal Chalabi describes the market situation as “horrifying for animals and for animal lovers.” He told Arab News:
Chalabi claims to have sent several reports to the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture regarding allegations of abuse, but has not received a response.
“I recently sent the footage to a friend who is amassing enough evidence to file a lawsuit against all these inhumane offenders and hopefully the animals in the souq under those circumstances. We want to punish and ban the sale of ,” he added.
Another Saudi NGO, Animal Pose, which also collects video and photographic evidence of alleged abuses taking place in the souks, recently released disturbing images of dying animals abandoned by shopkeepers. .
Despite signs of increased public awareness, animal shelters are still rare in Saudi Arabia, forcing people who want to help take in the large number of rescued animals into their homes.
Chalabi said she now has more than 50 cats and dogs at home. “I believe he’s taken a step in the right direction, but there is still a lot of work to be done when it comes to animal rights,” he added.
“After all, through the teachings of Islam and the prophets, we have been commanded to show compassion, empathy and mercy.”
Social media has been both a blessing and a curse when it comes to animal welfare in Saudi Arabia.
These platforms have made it easier for Saudis to expose abuses, but have been used by some individuals to share videos of animal exploitation for entertainment purposes.
“Especially on TikTok, some Saudi users are exploiting and exploiting animals to get likes,” one animal protector told Arab News, requesting anonymity. “Lack of education.”
Social media also plays a role in facilitating illegal wildlife and exotic pet trafficking. “Some breeds are brought from abroad and end up on the streets or sold in souqs,” said a Saudi animal protector.
But by and large, social media has become a useful weapon in helping raise awareness of animal cruelty.
“Many people in the community have started to take an active role in animal welfare,” the Saudi said. “More people are adopting. Even my uncle who is not pet friendly used to feed stray animals in the neighborhood.The community contributes to the treatment and containment of the animals.”
Saudi NGOs say animal protection should be high on the government’s agenda to achieve its vision of a humane society.
“Saudi Arabia is moving towards a modern and cultured society and animal welfare should be a top priority,” the animal protector told Arab News, summarizing his thoughts on the issue.
“If you are not kind to the weakest creatures, you are not kind.”
https://www.arabnews.com/node/2133741/saudi-arabia Abdulhalim Radwi Prize awarded to 10 Saudi artists