The following is an open letter about the current state of animal welfare in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, what Islam says about animal cruelty, and the real solution to stray population control. It was written by Anna Zoubi, Jordanian animal activist and the current foster mom of rescued street dog, Naji.
Islam Is The Best Religion; Muslims Are The Worst Followers
~ George Bernard Shaw.
Let Jordan be an example of Islam’s humanity.
The Fatwa to Kill Dogs
(Above images are all taken in Jordan)
As of October 2017 Jordan’s Grand Mufti, Dr. Mohammad Al-Khalaileh, issued a religious Fatwa to kill all stray dogs after a young girl was bitten by a dog. Municipalities across Jordan started hiring snipers and also began placing poison in areas where stray dogs spread, with not only dogs exposed to the poison but also all of Jordan’s wildlife. At least one thousand dogs have been killed so far.
This Fatwa is contradicting to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and the Quran’s teachings. The Quran’s view is that all animals form “Communities like you.”
Dogs & Other Animals in Islam
No animal has been cursed in any way in fact, Quran (surah kahf) mentions a story of how this dog protected a pious man by guarding the cave he was in.
Whoever kills a bird or anything else without its due right, God would ask him about it.’ It was said: ‘O Messenger of God! What is its due right?’ He said: ‘To kill it for food…and do not sever its head, and throw it!’
The Prophet Muhammad has allowed the killing of five animals that are harmful and are lawful to kill while in a state of pilgrimage: a snake, a speckled crow, a rat, a biting dog, and a kite.
Verily, there is heavenly reward for every act of kindness done to a living animal.
-Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him)
Islam Today & Animal Welfare
Yet given it being 2017, there are humane methods for a rabid dog and the Amaneh (Amman Municipality Services) driving around the streets looking for any dog to shoot doesn’t qualify as a “state of pilgrimage”. Also the prophet allowed the killing of a biting dog, not every single street dog. Municipalities are not even checking that these dogs are violent, rabid or any sort of status of the dogs before they are inhumanly shot, dozens at a time. Seeing as there are humane methods or cures, wouldn’t Allah want us to handle this in the most humane and loving way possible?
Jordanian-Muslims are currently being viewed in a negative light, because of the recent fatwa. This cruelty towards dogs is being justified with the use of Islam, which in fact does contradict the prophet Muhammed and Quran’s views and teachings that we are a religion of peace and love.
Why Jordan Needs to Stop Killing Animals
We as Muslim-Jordanians need to be an example for other Islamic countries. The issues that rise from this “War on Dogs” doesn’t only stop at religion and reputation worldwide. Many petitions and articles have been posted online with thousands of signatures. Reaching a point in which foreigners are forming a boycott of tourism in Jordan. The consequences of letting this go on raises nation and International concern, such as:
- Killings are being done in the name of Islam and are contradictive of Islam thus portraying a negative image of our beliefs.
- Psychological effect on a nation that teaches generation after generation that animal abuse is not only accepted but also encouraged. Animal abuse is the first manifestation of serious emotional turmoil that may escalate into extreme violence
- The growth and evolvement of a country is often measured by the treatment of animals.
- Getting rid of stray dogs will increase the number of snakes and rats in the area, which are eaten by the canines.
- Studies show that Municipalities that poison dogs only solve the problem for a few months, with no long term solution.
Killing Strays Will Never Control the Population
Why does killing animals not work? As long as there are sufficient resources, the place of every killed or removed animal will be taken by a new animal and the population will grow until the maximum carrying capacity.
It is useless as a measure to reduce the population on the long term. New dogs will come, replacing the adopted dogs and these again will have to survive in deplorable circumstances. What often happens is, that a pack will produce sufficient growth in order to retain enough strength.
Irresponsible Sellers and Owners
Prosperity of a country is closely related to the reduction of the number of stray dogs, some people may come to the conclusion that the situation in their countries is hopeless. Municipalities that poison dogs only solve the problem for a very limited time and is useless as a measure for a long term reduction of populations.
In 1990 the World Health Organisation and the WSPA released a report that stated the most effective method is combination of:
- Sterilisation (at least 70% of the she-dogs)
- Education (responsible dog ownership, breeding, dumping)
- Registration (identification of both animal and owner)
Adopting of dogs abroad does not help diminish the problem in the country origin. As of Jordan’s case, our animal shelters are over packed with dogs shipped in from abroad which have been lost or abandoned. In Jordan if we were to ban dogs imported for sales purposes, civilians whom are seeking to become dog owners would have no other option but to adopt from our over run shelters. In that reducing quantity of lost or abandoned dogs in which will increase the population. In doing my research i have visited numerous pet shops around Amman. In my research i have conducted every dog seller i came across assured me they can import any dog breed. Sellers import an average or 10 to 30 dogs a month.
- No matter the quantity they will import as many as you are willing to buy
- Not one of these sellers neuters any dogs upon entering Jordan, in fact sellers breed the dogs themselves
- Currently in Jordan it is an endless cycle of irresponsible sellers – selling to irresponsible owners.
- Studies show that, when sterile populations are created, the number of dogs will diminish.
- One unneutered female and her offspring can produce up to 67 000 puppies in six years, meaning dogs are extremely reproductive. It is important to focus on neutering females first and foremost, prioritizing owned, roaming dogs and community dogs because they are more reproductive due to their favorable situation regarding resources, compared to unowned dogs.
The Solution – CNVR Program
The terms ABC (Animal Birth Control) and CNR (Catch, Neuter & Return) are sometimes used. This method of population management is generally accepted as the most effective solution for overpopulation of stray animals. The benefits for the human population of CNVR are unquestionable. The deaths from rabies by dog bites will collapse to near zero in the areas where rabies is a problem (a real life example is India). Neutered dogs are also calmer and safer for the environment. Scientific studies however show that CNVR is feasible at all times and helps reduce stray populations. CNVR is short for Collect Neuter Vaccinate and Return
- Collect – Free roaming dogs and dogs who have owners are collected
- Neuter – Dogs are then sterilized/neutered
- Vaccinate – Vaccinated and marked
- Return – Finally dogs are taken back to where they came from
CNVR is meant to create sterile populations. If dogs are not returned their places will be taken by new fertile dogs from the neighborhood. Every animal that has been returned thus takes the place of a ‘new’ unsterilized animal. The population will then decrease because the sterilized animals cannot reproduce.
Spaying or neutering also decreases the aggressive behavior in dogs and cats while eliminating heat cycles, creating fewer opportunities for injuries or violence to occur.
CNVR alone is still not enough to solve the whole problem with stray dogs in Jordan because of new dogs entering the country and people abandoning unneutered dogs or puppies, that continue to reproduce.
This problem can only be solved through education and legislation, where abandonings are harshly sanctioned. Only then, when people stop abandoning their pets and there are on-going CNVR programmes to stop the reproduction of dogs already living in the street we can see a final decrease in the population.
As of the case of Rabid dogs, while CNVR is in action any dog collected should be analyzed if any symptoms of rabies occurs. World Health Organization has since 1990 recommended CNVR with rabies vaccinations as the best way of fighting the problem with stray animals.
Psychological Effect on Jordanians
Generation after generation Jordanians view animal abuse as very normal behavior. According to studies and research if we were to evaluate criminals, rapist, abusers and murders in Jordan we could easily find a connection to animal abuse. Animal abuse is not just the result of a personality flaw in the abuser, but a symptom of a deeply disturbed background. Perpetrators of violence against animals are predominantly adolescent males, who come from all ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds.
For centuries it has been recognized that the sources of domestic violence, child abuse, and cruelty to animals may has shared origins. Animal abuse is one of the ‘red flags’ or warning sign behaviors that could help identify youth at risk of perpetuating interpersonal violence.For too long this acknowledged connection has been underestimated in Jordan.
“Murderers … very often start out by killing and torturing animals as kids”, says Robert K. Ressler, who developed profiles of serial killers for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). “These are the kids who never learned it’s wrong to poke out a puppy’s eyes.”
According to a New South Wales newspaper, a police study in Australia revealed that “100 percent of sexual homicide offenders examined had a history of animal cruelty.” To researchers, a fascination with cruelty to animals is a red flag in the backgrounds of serial killers and rapists.
Gandhi, one of the early pioneers of non-violent civil disobedience, summed this up:
Be aware of the link between violence towards animals and other types of violence, particularly in children. Early intervention can help break the cycle of violence. Don’t dismiss childhood animal cruelty as ‘kids just being kids’. If a child is cruel to animals it is a warning sign that they need help.
The Solution – Action Plan
- Stop the import of dogs, imported for sales purposes
(people would then be forced to adopt a dog from over run shelters in Jordan)
- Mandate sellers to neuter all the dogs they currently have.
- Require all performing vets to resister identification of both owner and animal.
- Vets to spread the message of neutering. Neutering dog’s prevents many serious health problems, like cancer. That way pet owners will have healthy, happy dogs and government will have less domestic dogs lost in that reducing stray dog population. (Many countries temporarily offer free neutering to encourage people to neuter pets.)
In Jordan we currently have numerous organizations already in place, for example:
- Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah, The Humane Center for Animal Welfare (HCAW)
- The Animal Care Center, HRH Princess Alia Bint Hussein
When a stray dog is reported CNVR should be put in action
- Animals collected and then sent to one of the many animal shelters we already have and supply funding to.
- Animal shelters vaccinate, neuter and evaluate for rabies.
- If stray dog has rabies it should be handled as humanly as possible.
- After treatment animal should be marked to identify animal has been evaluated and healthy. -After animal is vaccinated and neutered it then should be returned.
In conclusion, the needed resources are already in place. CNVR has proven to not be costly but require a bit of effort on Jordans part. In this effort we are saving our
environment, preserving animal rights, helping Jordanians psychologically, restoring humanity and global image of Islam’s teachings.
Let us become a leading example in the middle east, by adopting up to date solutions, humane procedures and worldwide standards.
Current Online Petitions and Articles
- networkforanimals.org/petitions/jordan-is-killing-every- street-dog-in-the-country/