Pets caught in Lebanon's economic crisis - in pictures

Can you afford to keep your pet? Animal activists say this is a dilemma a growing number of Lebanese owners are facing

Can you afford to keep your pet? Animal activists say this is a dilemma a growing number of Lebanese owners are facing as their purchasing power nosedives.

Tens of thousands of Lebanese have lost their jobs or seen their income reduced to a pittance due to Lebanon's worst economic crisis in decades.

As many families struggle to stay afloat, activists say increasingly more pet owners are asking for help to feed or re-home their animals, selling them, or in the worst cases abandoning them.

At the Woof N' Wags dog shelter in southern Lebanon, volunteer Ghada Al Khateeb watched a female dog lying on her side, breathing weakly under a grubby white coat, after she was rescued from the local trash dump. She said pet abandonments were on the rise.

"Nobody can afford to feed their dogs anymore," said the 32-year-old hairdresser and divorced mother of twins. "When they come to hand them over, they tell us: 'our children are our priority'."

The shelter's founder, 28-year-old Joe Okdjian, said he was in desperate need of more donations.

"Sometimes they go a day or two without food," he said of the 90 dogs already in his care.

Ibrahim Al Dika had raised his Belgian shepherd Lexi since she was a tiny pup, but then Lebanon's economic crisis made him jobless and he had to sell her to repay a bank loan.

"It got to the point where I was no longer able to feed her, the bank was pressuring me, and I hit a wall," said the 26-year-old, devastated beside her empty kennel outside his Beirut home.

"I didn't sell a car or a telephone. I sold a soul. I sold a part of me."

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Published: May 18, 2021 04:49 PM

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