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March 30, 2010

Salukis Rescued from Qatar

Humane Society International

  • Arriving at Dulles Airport. © Rebecca Regnery/HSI

  • Exploring the car, on the way to a new adventure! © Rebecca Regnery/HSI

by Rebecca Regnery

I was part of the Humane Society International and Species Survival Network team in Doha, Qatar at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), a meeting focused on the preservation of wild species. During the course of the meeting, we met representatives of the Qatar Animal Welfare Society (QAWS) who told us about three rescued dogs who needed someone to accompany them on flights to their new home in the USA. HSI does not normally get involved in the transport of dogs, but this was a unique opportunity to help a sister organization, and these three already had a place waiting for them.

A tough start in life

The dogs are salukis, Arabian hounds related to greyhounds. They are considered the world's first breed of domesticated dogs. Cinnamon and Nutmeg were part of a litter of five puppies found abandoned at a construction site when someone heard them whimpering. QAWS staff named them all after spices and called them "the spice puppies."

Luke was rescued by a woman who saw him being beaten with sticks by a group of children. The father of some of the kids told her that the dog was their toy and they could "do whatever they want to it." All the dogs are about a year old.

Almost no one in Qatar wants a saluki because they are so common there. People there prefer "exotic" breeds like German shepherds. Fortunately, Cinnamon and Luke had a new home lined up with one of the co-founders of an American saluki rescue group called the Saluki Tree of Life Association (STOLA), who lives on a farm in Pennsylvania.

Toward a brighter future

It costs about $3,000 to ship a dog alone from Qatar to the United States but only about $350 for someone to add a dog to their ticket. So, a colleague from another organization took Nutmeg, and I took Cinnamon and Luke.

Their foster mom met me at the airport in Doha with them and helped me get the two salukis checked in. I was excited to meet them. Cinnamon is very affectionate and gave me lots of kisses. Luke is a little shyer but warmed up to me quickly, even touching his paw to my hand through the bars of his crate. A little later on, I saw them waiting on the tarmac as I got on the plane.

Before we took off, I talked to a flight attendant who confirmed that they were on the plane safely and that the captain was aware that they were there.

Once I made it through immigration, I found and picked them up in customs. I handed them over to STOLA volunteers who met me at the airport. They picked Nutmeg up in Gettysburg, PA and brought them all to their new home. My contact at QAWS said that they all made it safely and are getting settled in and enjoying having so much land to run around on.

Rebecca Regnery is deputy director of wildlife for Humane Society International.

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