Animal shelter offers hope to feral cats, abandoned pets
Gus’s Hope is promising a new lease of life for the stray cats found in every part of Jeddah.
These stray cats will now be able to have a home thanks to the efforts of Umm Asma who has formed the Gus’ Hope organization. Many of these animals are desperately looking for a shelter while some of them have been abandoned by families who don’t want them anymore or cannot take care of them any longer.
Umm Asma has taken it upon herself to improve animal welfare in the Kingdom by providing a home to abandoned pets, cats or kittens.
Umm Asma, an American convert married to a Saudi citizen and founder of the nonprofit organization, expressed her passion for animals: “Gus’s Hope was formed to change the reality for homeless and abandoned cats, as they are treated so badly.
Sometimes they are killed by poison, cruelly trapped or thrown into the desert to die a painful death.” She added: “We also offer low cost spaying and neutering facilities.”
Since there are no shelters in the Kingdom, Gus’s Hope rescues the cats/kittens, feeds them, and has one of their vets look them over. Once they regain health, they are spayed and later put up for adoption.
“We have all kinds of cats/kittens of all ages, colors, and breeds. We offer cats and kittens for a small adoption fee, which helps with the cost of the animals like their treatment and supplies. We do not sell any animal but work with local vets to offer low cost pet care.
“In addition, we have started the Trap, Neuter, and Release (TNR) program for feral cats in order to spay and neuter and place them in foster homes sometimes for adoption,” she said.
Umm Asma said people interested in having a pet animal should opt to adopt from Gus’s Hope rather than buying one. “We do not charge money, but there are several homeless cats and dogs that need treatment, supplies and food, which people can donate or help by buying pet supplies available at Gus’s Hope,” she said.
With no education on humane treatment of animals, Gus’s Hope plans to open an animal shelter and provide education about animal care, and ultimately to have real animal rights in KSA in order to change the attitude of the public toward animals. Umm Asma said: “With hardly any laws to protect the animals, my goal is to open the first cat shelter in the Kingdom. A place where the cats have no cages, but open land where they can live until they are adopted and be showered with love, care, food and shelter as long as they live.”
Sarah M., another animal lover, has also formed a small adoption center for stray cats. She said: “We catch street animals, neuter or spay them, and later offer them for adoption in vet clinics. We also invite people to adopt any pet animal from vet clinics. Besides, we have organized small campaigns in schools and universities to spread awareness on pet abuse.”
She added that a large number of people in the Kingdom were unaware of how to treat animals. “Saudi Arabia needs to introduce regulations concerning animal treatment and punish those who breach the law,” Sarah said.
Both women mentioned the Islamic enjoinment that demands kindness to animals and equates it with kindness to other humans.
Rahma Nameer, an activist said: “Although there are a few animal shelters in the Kingdom many of them are inactive and less productive due to the low acceptance and encouragement from people. There is need to spread awareness and organize campaigns to reach the maximum number of people with regard to animal rights.
Moreover, there is need for more qualified veterinarians and a number of volunteers to help people understand how to treat and behave with animals.”