Seven dollars: that is how much violators of Jordan’s Animal Protection Act can be fined for acts so cruel and inhumane they take your breath away, as the Associated Press reports. In a “culture where animal abuse remains rampant,” police are reluctant to investigate anyone suspected of animal abuse and lawmakers are disinclined to make the law more stringent.
Both dognapping and clandestine dog breeding are not uncommon in Jordan, says the AP. Dogs stolen from wealthy families are sold to breeders in a “thieves market” in Amman; one seller did not hesitate to tell an AP journalist that the German shepherd he was offering for $100 had been stolen “from a filthy rich family that taught him manners.” Stolen guinea pigs, snakes, cats and birds are also for sale.
Animals are also taken from the streets and sold to breeders. Selling four puppies (especially German shepherds and huskies) can earn a breeder almost $7,000 a month. After reading the conditions they are kept in (chained and given only enough food and water to keep from starving), it’s likely that any dog bought from what is essentially a puppy mill will have significant health problems.
Neighbors, annoyed at a dog’s barking, fired a shotgun over a garden wall and blew off its head. Others left bowls of poisoned meat out for a pair of poodles to munch on, they experienced an excruciating death.
Perhaps this isn’t as extreme as the Chinese practice of cooking pups alive, but dogs and cats suffer a terrible existence in Jordan. Rejected by the local population as little more than vermin, they are also targeted by well-publicized government elimination campaigns that include inhumane Strychnine poisoning and mercenary snipers (gunmen are paid by the number of kills).
Such “casual animal abuse” is not specific to Jordan. The AP describes other horrific instances in Lebanon and Egypt. On Green Prophet, Arwa Abuwara describes a number of examples of animal abuse in the Middle East, from a news report in which two men displayed a dead owl they said they had killed to a Kuwaiti posing with dead wolves and the shooting of thousands of endangered fruit bats in Lebanon.
The AP quotes Hussein Khazaei, the dean of the sociology department at Jordan’s Al-Balqa Applied University, on a possible reason for such abuses routinely occurring. Khazaei suggests that Islamic traditions “warns adherents against contact with dogs and other animals deemed impure,” adding that ”generation after generation was taught that dogs are impure, cats dirty the house and ruin the furniture, that animals are generally vicious and that it is useless to have a pet.”
As Balbo also notes, ”while it’s uncommon for practicing Muslims to keep dogs as pets” because of the beliefs Khazaei describes, there is also a “contradiction, as it’s written that the Prophet Mohammad advocated kindness to all animals.”
Currently there is only one animal shelter and hospital in Jordan, the Humane Center for Animal Welfare in Amman. King Abdullah’s half-sister, Princess Alia, is its chair and has successfully forced one slaughterhouse in Jordan to shut down, after Australian animal rights activists filmed a video there of the savage beating, stabbing and decapitation of a bull.
A broader understanding of animal welfare and the rights that animals have is only just emerging in Jordan. Advocates are seeking to strengthen and enforce the country’s Animal Protection Act, which actually calls for “imprisonment from a week up to 6 months OR [a] fine up to 50 JD’s” for dognapping.
It is, all too unfortunately, the case that animal abuse happens everywhere including in the U.S. and other Western nations, even and despite the enactment of stronger laws to protect animals and to call for humane and ethical treatment of them. As the dognapping and dog breeding detailed by the AP and Green Prophet attests, Jordan must strengthen its law, actually enforce it and take the lead among other countries in protecting so many animals from ghastly suffering and abuse.
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