Sara Taher meets Jackie Covil of Sandy Paws, the newest organisation to join the pack of animal welfare groups across the city who help abandoned pets and stray cats and dogs found out on the streets of Abu Dhabi.
Abu Dhabi is home to several animal welfare organisations, all of which strive to improve conditions for those without a voice. New on the scene is Sandy Paws, a group established this year. Unlike the other kids on the block, Sandy Paws is tasked with helping out the animals which have been abandoned by their owners, for whatever reason, rather than strays. We spoke to British born Jackie Covil about her venture and the new group.
After moving to Abu Dhabi in 2008, Jackie quickly became involved with other animal organisations here. While she regularly helped out Feline Friends, Strays of Abu Dhabi and others she soon noticed a niche that needed to be filled when it came to animal rescue. ‘We noticed a need to help cats and kittens which were not originally street cats and had been abandoned or left behind when the owners left the city. Unfortunately, these cats don’t have the necessary skill to survive on the streets,’ says Jackie.
Whether they are found by Jackie or referred to her by someone else, she tells us it is usually easy to catch the animals. ‘Most of them are half starved, so they just walk into the cat carriers we lay out because there is food in them. If others are too scared, we might visit them a few times to establish trust.’
Jackie tells us about some stories of sadness and success. ‘We rescued a dog called Precious, who had been run over on the side of Corniche. She was there for hours before two kind ladies stopped to help her and take her to a vet. She had a six-hour surgery which she seemed to be recovering from well. However, we soon found out she needed a second surgery and she died during the operation. We are still heartbroken that we lost her.’
On the other hand, there are stories such as Harry’s which keep Jackie unwavering in her quest. ‘We found a colony of cats near Sas Al Nakhl. There were around 30 friendly cats that had probably been in a home before because they were so receptive to human interaction. Many of them needed veterinary care though and Harry was a four-year-old Persian who was a brown-coloured mess of matted fur and very undernourished. We took him to the vet where he was shaved and neutered and he is now moving to America with his new owner. It always makes me so proud when they find their forever homes.’
While other organisations have been helpful in aiding Jackie set up this enterprise, she still faces some difficulties. ‘Obviously the biggest challenge we face is getting people to trust the brand, as well as getting the message out where it is needed. We need to raise awareness about our existence and we are always in need of families who can foster animals.’
In order to raise their profile in the community, the group hosts regular adoption days at the German Veterinary Clinic in Khalifa City. ‘The German clinic has been very helpful and supportive, we are truly indebted to their efforts.’ The group is also represented at flea markets and various open-house events.
They also work with Lachlan Hughes, a student at Al Raha School who has set up a personal Facebook page to raise awareness about the suffering of homeless animals in the city. The site is called Hope for a Home and it works to promote the sponsorship of pets.
‘We are always looking for people who are willing to help, whether to foster or to provide some financial assistance,’ says Jackie. Currently, the group has many animals waiting for permanent homes in foster care. Interested parties can contact the group through their Facebook page, where they can learn about upcoming adoption days as well as other events.
To learn more, visit www.facebook .com/pages/Sandy-Paws.
More animal groups
Animal Action Abu Dhabi
Wags and Purrs