Animal welfare organization Network for Animals (NFA), and partner the Al-Rahmeh Association for Animals, say they continue to witness staggering scenes in Jordan: chained dogs being beaten; poor creatures hung from fences or metal barricades; deceased puppies’ skins scattered in the refuse around factories.
The worsening situation is linked to the influx of workers from China into the Middle East nation, as economic ties strengthen. Their arrival has seen the infiltration into Jordan of the all-too-real Chinese custom of eating dog meat, and unscrupulous locals are only too happy to lure and capture street dogs to sell to the Chinese.
The dogs are routinely subjected to horrific torture before being consumed, in the belief that this makes the flesh softer and sweeter. “It’s terrible,” says NFA campaigner Luke Barritt. “We saved one dog last week. We found him outside a Chinese factory, dazed with hunger and thirst in sweltering conditions. Bystanders confirmed he had been sold and was destined to be killed and eaten.”
There are also deep-rooted local traditions behind the inhumane treatment of dogs. Many Jordanians have a cultural dislike of dogs, or a phobia that they carry diseases.
Attitudes are changing – but too slowly, and the foundations are fragile. Paradoxically, many Jordanians are becoming interested in obtaining a pet. But they shun adoption from an animal shelter, preferring to buy from unregistered breeders. Puppies are often abandoned as they get larger, because most Jordanians live in apartments with very limited space.
The intense heat and dry, dusty environment in Jordanian cities make conditions heart-breaking for dogs forced to survive on the streets. But the problem of street animals is growing.
“There’s an enormous task ahead in educating people, to stop the demonization of street dogs in particular,” says Barritt. “And to push the government to enact and enforce laws against unregistered breeders, the consumption of dog meat, and any form of cruelty towards any animal.”
The dog that was rescued by NFA is safe and recovering at the Al-Rahmeh Association for Animals shelter. “We’ve named him Buddy,” says Barritt. But his smile doesn’t last long. “We will not stop until we’ve forged holistic solutions. In the meantime, working with Al-Rahmeh, we will rescue and care for as many street dogs as we can.”