BEIRUT: Over a dozen dogs kept in shocking conditions were rescued by Beirut Municipality under a Lebanese law that protects animals from abuse.
The 13 dogs were found held in separate cages on an empty lot in Beirut’s Adlieh, according Beirut Municipality’s chief of administration, Fady Daher.
Following complaints from people in the neighborhood and animal rights NGOs, Beirut Gov. Ziad Chebib made the decision to rescue the dogs Friday under the Animal Protection and Welfare Law 47 of 2017. The dogs were then transferred under the care of Animals Lebanon where they are currently being sheltered and treated.
A veterinary report said all the dogs were severely dehydrated with signs of starvation, according to a press release from Animals Lebanon.
Most of them were underweight with poor hygiene, and were found covered in mud and feces and carrying parasites and contagious diseases.
Tests are still being carried out, but barring any surprises, the dogs are expected to make full recoveries.
The municipality is investigating the case, though a perpetrator hasn’t been identified. “It’s difficult for us to know who is in charge. It has not been confirmed why the cages were used, but it seems that there is an individual who rents out the cages and is given dogs to train for hunting,” Daher told The Daily Star.
Daher is preparing documents for the case with the municipality’s legal department. The case will be transferred to the relevant court once investigations are complete and a culprit is identified.
Under Law 47 of 2017, it is illegal to cause an animal pain, distress or suffering. The law aims to improve the overall welfare of animals in accordance with international conventions. It applies to all animals, including pets and animals in zoos, slaughterhouses, pet stores and animal-welfare organizations.
Under the law, the punishment for crimes committed against animals can include imprisonment and fines.
Parliament passed the legislation in 2017 after it was drafted with the help of Animals Lebanon Executive Director Jason Mier.
To Mier’s knowledge, the law has been implemented at least “a few dozen times” in cases where legal action has been taken against lawbreakers. But he reckons the number is likely higher, as he often “hears about legal action being taken against animal abusers through media reports as well.”
Last August, a serial dog abuser was put in prison for picking up dogs in his truck, beating them and killing them in the Sin al-Fil area, An-Nahar reported. The man, identified as G.S., was sentenced to 10 days in prison and had to pay LL4,000,000 (around $2,600) to the Beirut for the Ethical Treatment of Animals NGO. The sentence was the first of its kind in Lebanon and seen as one of the country’s biggest steps against animal abuse.
For Mier, this was a success. “The system we want in place is one where a police station sees animal abuse and goes and acts by itself without NGO pressure. More and more people are complying with the law because a law exists,” Mier said.