Through my blog I have focused a lot on animal rescue based out of Amman, but did you know there’s a shelter based out of Jordan’s most southern city, Aqaba? It is called Al Rabee Society for Nature and Animal Protection and to find out more I interviewed the woman behind the refuge, Ms. Rodica Toma Athamneh.
How did Al Rabee Society start?
Rodica, the founder, is originally from Romania and her entire life she has always loved animals. She was raised on a farm, where animals were a big part of her life and considered part of the family.
When she came to Jordan she felt that she had been detached from that way of life. When her children became old enough, they started to add animals into the family. A rabbit, a tortoise, a chicken, a cat and a dog. When her boys left for college the cat became 10 cats and soon enough 30 cats!
With early retirement, Rodica felt that is time to do something about the stray dogs in Jordan. To give them a safe place to live and the care they deserve.
In 2013 she asked some friends to join her to form Al Rabee Society. They started with awareness programs in schools and they held three days of free veterinary clinics. At that time they didn’t had any help from the local authorities so it wasn’t easy, but they kept on going. The only support they received then was from the expat community. However, after two years of constant nagging to the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority (ASEZA), Al Rabee was given a fenced plot of land and there they were able to open their shelter.
“I think Al Rabee shelter is the only of its kind in Jordan, a safe haven for the stray dogs.”
How do the animals come to Al Rabee?
The dogs at Al Rabee are literally found directly on the streets. Sometimes people call complaining about dogs roaming in residential areas and the volunteers go and pick them up. Also for sick dogs or abused dogs.
“In two years Al Rabee has gathered around 400 dogs, and they have never had an aggressive dog.”
They do have to release dogs from time to time. The shelter doesn’t have the capacity or the means to care for all of the strays in Aqaba. They keep the weak, the mothers with puppies and the sick. At the moment, the shelter has around 130 dogs and puppies at the shelter.
Story of a Street Dog in Aqaba
Last year a large male dog was caught by a man in a village near Aqaba and brought to the shelter to be neutered. He was tied with ropes and the man said he is an aggressive dog. They gave him anesthesia in the car and after the operation the dog was put in a holding cage, at the back of the shelter. As the days are always too busy, Rodica at the time didn’t follow-up with what happened with the dog, she thought he had been released. Two days later, she found him still in the same cage without food, just some water he got when he was put there. As she was told he is aggressive, she was afraid to approach, but when she put some food for him he came to eat and was very calm and sweet! Being a big, healthy dog she decided to release him back to the village he came from. But who did she find the next day outside the shelter? The big, scary dog who wasn’t scary at all, he only wanted food and some pets. For more than a year now, Rodica finds him every day at the gate waiting for her.
Fostering and Adopting Dogs in Aqaba
When Al Rabee has puppies in their care that are too small to eat by themselves they try to find foster homes for them, unfortunately they don’t have many success stories. People are too busy, or don’t have the lifestyle to foster. If you are interested in fostering an animal, please get in contact with them directly (contact details below).
The same goes with adopting a dog. Al Rabee welcomes anyone that wants to adopt (for the right reasons of course!) and with the only condition that they will return the dog to the shelter if they can’t keep him/her anymore. In two years less then 10 dogs have been adopted. Two of which returned by themselves to the shelter!
How You Can Help the Animals at Al Rabee
The shelter is supported mostly through donations from expats living in Aqaba, animal lovers from Amman and some people from outside Jordan that heard about Al Rabee’s work.
If you would like to donate to the cause, you can do so via bank transfer:
- Housing Bank, Aqaba Branch, Al Rabee Society for Nature and Animal Protection 0071281…1.1..1
or via PayPal:
Soap to Save Animals
In order to get a regular income, last year Al Rabee also started a handmade soap project. They sell their olive oil soaps in gift shops and bazaars in Aqaba. If you live outside of Aqaba, they can deliver across Jordan.
If you are interested in volunteering at Al Rabee shelter, you can contact them directly (scroll down for contact info).
Advice: What to Do if you find an animal that needs help
If you see an animal in need in Aqaba (or anywhere else), Rodica urges all to take action right away! Don’t post a picture on Facebook about it, with directions that no one understands, the chances are it won’t be found this way. If you are afraid, get help from a friend that knows how to handle a dog, and stay by his side until someone comes. Hurt dogs can sometimes be defensive, but handled with care they can be helped.
How to get in contact with Al Rabee
- Facebook group: facebook.com/groups/523830894347380/
- Website: www.alrabee.com (currently under construction)
- Email: email@example.com
And a final note from Rodica –
“Please spread the word about Al Rabee’s work, more people should know that it can be done, and people’s misconceptions can be changed. We need to persevere, never give up. Animals are angels on Earth that need protection from some humans that lost their humanity.”
Helping & Adopting Animals in Amman and Nearby
To find out more about rescuing animals outside of Aqaba, you can check out these rescue groups:
- Malath Canaan Rescue Jordan
- The Humane Center for Animal Welfare (HCAW)
- Al Rahmeh Society for Animals in Jordan
- Canaan Dogs Rescue (International adoptions only)
There are also other groups in Jordan where you can find many rescued animals for adoption. However, I highly recommend you check with the above groups before you consider adopting an animal.