Debate will always surround animal welfare, and the BSPCA is no exception. As Bahrain’s only officially registered animal welfare group of its type, we receive a lot of media attention and discourse on a range of topics. We receive constant questions from interested members and public and do our best to answer these as appropriate. However, not everyone agrees on all aspects of animal welfare, and we sometimes also fall victim to unfounded, and occasionally malicious, rumors. This Q&A attempts to summarize the more frequently asked questions and our responses.
Q: How is the BSPCA funded?
Approximately half the funds raised by the BSPCA are the proceeds of the Thrift Shop in Saar, with the reminder primarily from donations from visitors to the Animal Welfare Centre and fundraising events. Contrary to common perceptions, the BSPCA receives no money or other material support from the Government of Bahrain.
Q: How does the BSPCA spend its money?
The largest part of BSPCA expenditure is operating and maintaining the purpose-built Animal Welfare Centre in Askar. The AWC employs a manager, receptionist, administrator, kennel assistants and drivers. The Society also has thrift shop, communications, and fundraising staff. Additionally it employs the services of a professional veterinary practice located within the AWC. Other expenses include vet supplies, rents, animal food, electricity and water, and many other items necessary to operate a well run, professionally managed charity.
Q: Does the BSPCA make a surplus?
The BSPCA budgets to spend all its annual income on its charitable purposes. If there is a surplus, it is reinvested into enhancing our facilities and expanding our services, such as the free CNVR program for dogs and cats. In recent times though, our finances have become more strained, and as economic growth has suffered, so has the ability of people to donate. Yet the work continues to grow in line with number of the animals in the Kingdom. The Society currently struggles to maintain its services through these difficult economic times, and sorely needs additional funds.
Q: How is the BSPCA regulated?
The BSPCA is regulated and heavily monitored as a charity registered with the Ministry of Social Development (MOSD). An Executive Committee of unpaid volunteers is elected by the AGM every two years. Our financial accounts are independently audited, submitted to the MOSD, and then presented at the AGM.
Q: What is the BSPCA’s policy on taking in unwanted animals?
The BSPCA’s policy has consistently been to take in or otherwise help every animal brought to it by the public: 24 hours a day, 365 days in the year.
Q: Does the BSPCA practice euthanasia?
As with most SPCAs globally, the Society accepts with great reluctance that in many situations euthanasia is necessary for unwanted animals that are not suitable to be re-homed. Euthanasia is forced on the BSPCA by irresponsible ownership and lack of government action over the every-increasing stray population.
Q: How does the BSPCA assess animals for euthanasia?
Every animal is individually assessed by vets and an animal behaviorist, and monitored on an ongoing basis during their stay at the AWC. Should animals be unsuitable for re-homing for behavioral or medical reasons, they will be put to sleep through a humane injection administered by a professional vet in accordance with animal welfare best practices.
Q: What is the BSPCA doing to end the need for euthanasia?
It has been proven that the only long term, sustainable solution is a government-funded national Catch-Neuter-Vaccinate-Return (CNVR) program. The BSPCA is actively trying to educate and lobby for government action on this critical issue. In the meantime, we provide a limited free CNVR service to the public, subject to funds. The BSPCA neuters all dogs and cats old enough, and as part of our public education program proactively encourages all pet owners to do the same.
Q: What else does the BSPCA do for animal welfare?
The BSPCA is engaged in many aspects of animal welfare, including schools education, inspections of farms and traders, support to the police on animal cruelty, call-outs for distressed animals, advice to government on animal welfare law implementation, and working to expose animal fighting rings.
Q: Should I be concerned about allegations I have read on social media?
We get asked numerous questions in response to rumors and speculations. Some of the wilder ones have included: payments to Executive Committee members; deceased cats fed to dogs; animals undernourished; dogs given to fighting rings for baiting; they only keep pedigrees; it’s their job to deal with all the strays in Bahrain; they have enough funds and facilities to house every unwanted animal, etc.. These are entirely untrue, and in many cases started by people with malicious intent. This is sadly an issue that all animal welfare organizations face regularly, especially in the age of social media.
Q: My Labrador has to take a daily antibiotic tablet but I’m having trouble giving it to her. She won’t let me push it down the back of her mouth. What other options do I have?
A: There are many ways to pill an animal – dogs are usually easier to give tablets to, but not always. If your dog has a good appetite and eats wet food then it may be possible to just hide the tablet inside a piece of the meat or even crush it and mix it into the food. Alternatively, it may be possible to hide the tablet inside a piece of cheese and offer as a treat. If these tricks fail then you can try crushing the tablet and mixing with a small piece of butter or cream cheese and smearing it just inside the lips – most animals will tolerate this better than trying to force open the mouth (this actually works very well with cats in which smearing on the feet also works) The final method is to crush the tablet and mix with water then squirt it into the mouth using a syringe. A word of warning though, check with your vet to make sure that it is safe to crush the tablet – some medications are prepared in ways that means they should not be broken.
Q: My cat was recently involved in a fight with another. He came off second best with superficial scratches to his front legs but nothing too bad. We’re keeping his wounds clean but he won’t stop licking them. What should we do?
A: Cat fights are very common and often scratches may be the only wounds seen. However a fresh bite wound is very small and often missed. These can easily become infected (as cat mouths are very dirty) and so any cat that has been in a fight should be treated by a vet to prevent an abscess forming. Keeping the wounds clean with salty water is a good first aid measure and you certainly should try to stop him from licking the wounds, as this can also allow them to become infected – often the only way to do this is with an Elizabethan (or lampshade) collar.
Q: My African Grey Parrot that I have had for 4 years now recently seems to be losing his feathers. What could be causing this?
A: When dealing with feather loss in birds it is important to distinguish between true feather loss and feather plucking. The easy way to tell is to look at the head. If both the head and body are affected, then there is probably a medical reason behind the feather-loss and you should take the bird to see your veterinarian. If, however, the feathering on the head is normal, then it generally means that the bird is feather-plucking. Feather plucking is a very common problem in birds, especially African Grey Parrots (Casicos) and Cockatoos. There are many potential reasons behind this self-mutilation in birds, including poor nutrition, internal diseases or infections, parasites (both internal and external), environmental allergens (such as cigarette smoke), and psychological problems such as boredom. By far the most common reasons we see for feather plucking are poor nutrition and psychological problems. It is beyond the scope of these articles to fully explain each situation however I will try to sum up the solutions to these two more common problems. First of all, ensure that the diet is correct. Sunflower seed and peanuts are not a suitable diet for any bird. They are very high in fat and lack nutrients. Ensure a good mix of seed, or ideally a formulated pellet food. In the seed diet also add in larger nuts such as almonds, cashews, walnut etc. This should be combined with a good mix of fruit (especially the fleshy fruits such as papaya and mango) and vegetables DAILY. It is often noted that feather picking starts when something changes in the house, such as a new baby. It is important that the bird is given a routine to stick to, including bed-time, and plenty of toys to play with (which need to be rotated often to keep interest). Also ensure that you allocate a set amount of time every day to interact with your bird to keep it happy. I would advise a check-up with your veterinarian though, in order to rule out other potential medical reasons behind the behaviour and for more complete advice on your individual situation.
Q: I have a eight month old terrier, her fur recently has been getting matted/knotted a lot , I comb her fur every week after bath. Can you advice some way to rid her off this. I see her scratching herself all the while.
A: Bathing once a week (with a special pet shampoo) is the most frequent I would advise, however, longer haired dogs (and cats) really do need to be brushed daily in order to prevent matting, and even then it is often not enough. If you want to cut out any knots with scissors then place a comb through the fur between the knot and the skin and cut over the top of the comb, this will prevent you accidentally cutting the skin. The scratching may signify a problem such as mites or allergies or could be normal for her. Fleas do not appear to be a major problem in Bahrain, although they do exist here. If her skin appears red or damaged, or her fur appears thinner in areas, then you should take her to your vet for investigation. Q:
Q: How do I house-train my puppy?
The first few weeks in a home are the most important for a new dog, be it adult or a puppy. Many different behaviours are learnt during this time, so time needs to be spent with them to ensure that the desired behaviours are properly reinforced. It is easy to overlook the few puddles and nibbling on furniture/hands etc at first, however this tells the puppy that it is OK, making it more difficult to train him out of these behaviours later on. Prevention is better than cure. The most important rule when it comes to toilet training a puppy is “if you don’t catch them in the act, then don’t punish them”. Rubbing a puppy’s nose in a puddle will not teach him anything except to be afraid of you. Puppies can be trained to toilet onto paper, which is gradually moved towards the door and outside. This may be of particular use in apartments. The essential points regarding toilet training are:
By applying these rules it is possible to house-train even an adult dog within seven days.
Q: I just bought a Pekinese puppy from a Bahrain pet shop and she seemed perfectly healthy. Her vaccinations appeared to be current and she has Thai papers. It’s been a week and she’s started coughing over the last couple of days, should I be worried?
A: I would certainly advise you to take your puppy to the vet for a check-up. We find a lot of these puppies coming in from Thailand develop coughs and/or other illnesses – usually within 2-3 weeks of being sold due to the incubation periods. Some of these resolve very quickly with treatment, however some cases can take a long time to improve and may even be life-threatening. The majority of Thai puppies arriving into Bahrain have NOT had their vaccinations – the records are often falsified in order to get the puppies into Bahrain whilst they are still young. This puts them at great risk from a wide range of diseases such as Parvovirus and Canine Distemper – technically they should not leave Thailand until they are 4 months’ old anyway. My advice to anyone buying a puppy is to take them for a check-up with the vaccination record. This may not guarantee they do not get ill but will allow the vet to advise on the potential problems facing that particular puppy, pick up on any existing problems and ensure that they have received adequate vaccinations.
Q: Can you recommend anything special that works well on the type of ticks found here other than the monthly application of Frontline?
A: Ticks are a huge problem in Bahrain and, whilst they do appear more prevalent at certain times of the year, they can be considered a year-round problem. Certain areas of Bahrain also appear to have greater numbers of ticks – generally the agricultural areas where the habitat is perfect for them. As a result, constant surveillance is essential in the war against these unwanted visitors. Frontline® has very good efficacy against ticks, however there are worldwide reports of increasing tolerance of the ticks to available preparations. If you find that a particular product is not working very well, then try changing to a different product. It is also important to ensure that it is being applied correctly – so read the instructions carefully. Bathing should not be carried out within the two day period before or after applying a spot-on preparation. It is also important to remember that spot-on preparations do have to be applied monthly for maximum effect and, in especially bad times, they can even be applied every two to three weeks. Careful selection of a product is also essential – the products that have had more extensive research into safety and efficacy are often “prescription only” and, therefore, only available through your vet. It is imperative to have the home environment sprayed against ticks by a professional pest-control company and, if you are facing an especially bad tick problem in your home, then it may be necessary to complement spot-on treatment with a relevant insecticide wash. A single female tick can lay around 5000 eggs which can later re-infest the animal so continued vigilance is essential and it may take many months to ensure a tick-free home environment – and you still have to worry about the public areas. If you find that your tick-control regime is not working then speak to your vet who can advise you on other available products.
Q: How do I remove the odd one or two ticks from my pet’s coat?
A: To remove an attached tick, use a pair of fine-tipped tweezers. You do not want to crush the tick as this can force the tick’s harmful fluids into your pet’s bloodstream.
Do not use your fingers to remove or dispose of the tick. Do NOT squash the tick with your fingers. Monitor your pet’s condition. If there are any symptoms other than redness around the wound that don’t subside after a few days, call your vet.
Q: I have found a friendly but stray animal on the street, what can I do? I am sure it is someone’s pet.
A: An animal wearing a collar and tag is obviously owned – ensure that your phone number is on the tag so that you can be called in the event that your pet is located. Tags can be purchased from, and often engraved by, your vet or pet shop. Collars can, however, be removed. Having your vet place a microchip will provide you with a unique number that identifies your pet (and is often a requirement for international travel). This number can then be read by a special scanner by the vet or BSPCA and provides proof that the animal is owned and can allow tracing of the owner (providing it has been registered in Bahrain). In the event of your pet going missing (or if you find a friendly stray animal) contact your vet and the BSPCA to enquire if it has already been found or reported lost. Also ask around your neighbours; it may have become trapped in an outside room or garage without their knowledge. Placing a “missing animal” poster in public places can also help to locate a missing pet. Suitable locations include supermarket noticeboards, pet shops and veterinary clinics. One dog was successfully located in response to a missing animal notice in a petrol station. Losing a family pet is a heartbreaking experience and a few simple steps may be all it takes to either prevent this happening, or to locate your pet quickly if it does.
Q: We have adopted a small terrier who has just been neutered. He is marking (urinating) all over our house even though there is no other dog present. How can I stop this behaviour?
A: There are many potential reasons behind urinating in the house and it is important to rule out medical issues such as bladder infections, kidney problems and diabetes so a check-up with your vet may be advisable. Another reason for urinating in the house is lack of toilet training; if he has just been adopted this may certainly be an issue. Differentiating between toileting in the house and marking can be quite tricky but, in essence, marking will usually be displayed as multiple small areas of urine whereas lack of toilet training will result in fewer but larger puddles. If it is truly marking behaviour, then there can be several reasons behind this, most of which are territorial in origin. Territorial marking is a typical male trait, resulting from the dog’s testosterone levels. If he has only recently been neutered then his hormone levels may still be elevated, thus stimulating the marking behaviour. Moving into a new house can also make the dog mark in order to establish his territory, especially if there are, or have been, other dogs in the area, whether inside or outside the house. If the dog is uneasy, or anxious, then this can also stimulate a marking behaviour. So how can it be stopped – this can be very tricky and no one method is guaranteed to work. Firstly, rule out medical conditions. If he has only just been neutered, then give him a little time for the hormone levels to reduce. If you find that he marks a particular rug/pot etc then remove that item and see if it helps. As a final step, medication may be required, such as a stress reliever. There is also a product called Dog Appeasing Pheromone, or D.A.P, that may also help in some cases.