A group of armed men stormed a secure facility in Qatar used to feed and shelter stray dogs, killing 29 of them and injuring others over claims that one of them had bitten one of the men’s children.
According to the Independent, the unidentified gunmen threatened security guards with weapons before entering a secure factory area, where the stray dogs are looked by the community. The assailants are then thought to have shot 29 dogs, including puppies, leaving others badly injured.
Speaking to the Independent, a source described the incident as “horrific” with people running for cover as the group of men shot at the defenceless animals. The source added that after the shootings, a number of animals have still not been found, and locals fear they are hiding, possibly with terrible injuries.
The incident on 10 July was confirmed on social media by the Doha-based rescue charity PAWS Rescue Qatar, who mentioned that the group turned up on the first day of Eid.
“The security team tried to stop the men from shooting a group of beautiful friendly neutered dogs, but they realised that they were also putting themselves in danger also,” the organisation stated, adding that the animals posed no threat to anyone and were well looked after. One puppy is fighting to survive under a vet’s care.
The charity also questioned why there wasn’t stricter gun controls in the Gulf state: “Why can civilians own guns and be allowed to use them as they wish? Why are there no stricter regulations?”
“If these monsters can kill so easily and threaten men what will they do next.”
The announcement invoked an angry response by social media user who condemned the killings.
“This is barbaric,” one user wrote. “I am genuinely shocked and heartbroken,” wrote another.
“Very disappointed Qatar! The Gulf region must start to evolve on such matters – this is inexcusable! Poor babies,” commented another.
In 2021, AFP reported that there has been an uptick in animal abuse in Qatar, particularly among strays and abandoned animals left behind by departing expatriates. The number of strays in the country had seen a surge as coronavirus lockdown restrictions were lifted.
Also last year, the government started a new initiative called Rifq, or Kindness, where stray dogs are captured, vaccinated, neutered and rehabilitated before then being put up for adoption.
Despite a 2004 law criminalising the mistreatment of animals, law enforcement is said to be inconsistent. One Qatari animal rescuer was quoted in a report by Doha News last year as saying “There is a law against torturing animals, but it’s just a 1,000 riyal fine, so it is not really a deterrent”.
According to Qatari law, in order to own a firearm, you must obtain a licence from the Ministry of Interior (MOI), however you have to be over the age of 21 and not have a criminal record. Even with a license, you aren’t allowed to brandish your gun in public.