FSB, Street No. 22, Punjab, Pakistan 

An Analysis of Palestinian Perceptions Regarding Pets

The Middle East’s numerous geopolitical difficulties have not given much thought to the conditions of companion animals. This is hardly surprising, as animal suffering is usually subordinated to human suffering in war-torn areas of the world. Furthermore, it is very challenging to do survey research in the area. 

However, in order to find out more about people’s attitudes regarding companion animals, the researchers in this study were able to do a small comparison analysis. They conducted surveys with 106 Norwegian and 99 Palestinian students to compare their perspectives on companion animal care.  The majority of Norway is a secular nation. However, Palestine is a Muslim nation where Islam has a strong influence on most elements of family, politics, and culture.

Therefore, while religion might be a source of ethical teachings in Norway, the majority of people in Palestine derive their ethical principles primarily from Islam. According to the study, Islam teaches that human behavior with animals should be defined by love, compassion, and respect. The Quran and the Hadiths (sayings of the Prophet Mohammed) are the main sources of Islamic traditions. The Quran states that there should be harmony between humans and non-humans. 

God is the creator, and humans are meant to be stewards of the natural world, not their masters. In fact, there is a Hadith that states that mistreating animals is a grave sin that God will punish. Additionally, Sharia, or Islamic law, states that individuals are responsible for treating animals with kindness and respect. Therefore, these lessons should govern how humans interact with their companion animals, who are not specifically mentioned in religious literature. However, the sad truth is that animals in the Middle East are considered to be significantly less valuable than humans.

The researchers point out that sentiments in Europe originate in a very different setting. In Norway, 17% of homes look after cats, while 14% look after one or more dogs. The authors believe it is plausible to assume that there are significantly fewer companion animals in Palestine than in Norway, even though there are no comparable statistics on the prevalence of companion animals in Palestine.

This is partly because Palestinians earn less than Norwegians do, and Muslims forbid owning dogs in homes. In Palestine, having a companion animal is considered a luxury, and if one is found, it is usually one of the following: fish, birds, or cats. Dogs are typically strays, though some individuals maintain sheepdogs and protection dogs. 

Researchers employed the Pet Attitude Scale

The study used the Pet Attitude Scale, a survey instrument developed in 1981 to gauge attitudes and affection for companion animals. According to the results, Norwegian students were more positive toward companion animals than Palestinian students were. Exposure may be the cause of this, at least in part. While most Palestinians do not keep animals in their homes as pets, Norwegians frequently do.

However, both groups’ sentiments toward companion animals were more favorable than unfavorable. This is in contrast to earlier studies that indicated Middle Eastern society places little significance on companion animals. When asked if they “should treat house pets with as much respect” as “a human member of the family” and if they “love pets,” the kids from Norway and Palestine had very similar answers.

Although supporters may want to take advantage of these positive outcomes right away, more evidence must first be gathered. A wider range of perspectives from both Palestinian and Middle Eastern society at large are needed. Additionally, we must use more contemporary survey tools that take into account the most recent perspectives on companion animals. Finding out how often the respondents watched Islam and how this affected their opinions on animals might also be beneficial. Advocates can create a successful future plan for this area with this information at their disposal. This study provides some positive, albeit preliminary, evidence in the interim.

Living like a dog: Hope for Palestine’s stray animals

Palestine’s stray animal population faces difficult issues of its own and is becoming a bigger concern for its non-furry neighbors. Dogs and cats roam the streets of towns and cities in search of food, enduring severe weather, disease, and cruelty.

Although some Palestinians take in and care for stray animals as pets, most of them are left on their own.

“No one wants stray animals as pets.”

Similar to other parts of the world, the stray population in Palestine is probably composed in part of escaped working animals and their progeny, abandoned domestic animals and their offspring, and possibly animals that were purposefully released into the area.

Babish started the shelter with the intention of using neutering and rehoming initiatives to assist in controlling the growing number of stray animals, she adds.

There are also unofficial efforts taking place all throughout Palestine when private individuals or veterinarians volunteer to provide strays with food or medical attention; nonetheless, this is insufficient to handle the enormous quantity of strays. “The West Bank is home to over ten thousand dogs,” claims Babish.

According to Babish, the fact that many Palestinians would rather purchase pricey purebred dogs than adopt strays exacerbates this issue. “No one intends to keep stray animals as pets.” Rather than providing care for one person and removing them from the streets, they pay a large sum of money.

Animal cruelty and neglect are major problems, and Babish collaborates with law enforcement to stop these practices in addition to offering microchips, immunizations, and other interventions that help improve the welfare of the animals.

Babish and the employees at the animal shelter feel that the key to solving the problem is enacting strict legislation that safeguards animals and penalizes those who mistreat them severely. As of right now, Jordanian law still stands, says Babish, and abusing animals carries a five-dollar fine. It is nothing, she declares.

At home and away

Frequently, rehoming strays with a welcoming family is the best alternative. Given the amount of animals that have been through Babish’s care, the only viable option is to send them abroad on occasion.

However, because of the situation in the occupied West Bank, these rehoming journeys are not always easy. Due to Israeli military checkpoints, shelter personnel face movement restrictions between locations in the occupied West Bank, as well as when attempting to pass into Israel to bring animals to hospitals there, as all West Bank Palestinians require Israeli-issued licenses to enter.

The significance of community

Despite these problems, one of the biggest challenges that the shelter faces is a lack of support from both official institutions and the local community.

 “We must rely on ourselves when approaching other organizations, mostly from abroad and the local community.” Perhaps some of the people who look out for stray animals can tell us about a dog, cat, or donkey that needs to be saved.”

Babish is adamant that local and government institutions step forward.

“We are working for the municipalities.” This is primarily the municipality’s [responsibility], but many municipalities shoot dogs and poison stray animals,” complains Babish.

According to Babish, advocacy on behalf of stray animals has had some measure of success, with Ramallah Municipality recently launching a sterilization program. It is now the only municipality to have done so.

Babish also encourages the rest of the community to pitch in.

“Because it is a part of the problem, the local community should be involved.” Both of them are afraid that stray dogs will hurt their kids or bark at night. Because it is a widespread issue in the West Bank, it must involve all segments of society.”

“A small donation can go a long way toward assisting us in our rescue efforts.” We never say no to a case.”

Babish urges everyone to “think about and appreciate the work that we do.”

“These animals are an important part of our lives and communities.” People must band together and contribute anything they can, including food, blankets, and cash for some of the vets.

Second, international assistance is critical because we need to increase efforts to sterilize stray animals in order to control the population.”


10,000 homeless animals are thought to be walking the streets of the Bethlehem Governorate alone, despite the lack of official statistics. Legal protection against cruelty to these animals does not exist.

Trap, Neuter, and Release (TNR) programs are the most efficient strategies to reduce their numbers.

Unfortunately, neither the Palestinian president nor municipal officials have taken serious steps to initiate these programs. Their current stated policy for stray animal populations is to shoot and poison them. Stray dogs and cats subjected to this treatment perish in misery – those poisoned have seizures, while those shot are frequently injured and left to die slowly from their wounds.

These techniques have become so common in Palestinian communities that they post messages warning locals not to be scared by oncoming gunfire and post photos of bloodied canines on their Facebook sites, claiming to have made the streets safer for people.

OIPA’s new member league, BAEA Bethlehem Animal and Environmental Association, filed a petition to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, requesting him to stop the kill campaigns and instead implement trap, neuter, and release programs. TNR programs are not only more humanitarian but also more effective in reducing animal populations. International pressure can persuade the president to implement these ideas, which would help homeless animals by instituting humane population management.


We were just made aware of, and deeply concerned by, the Palestinian Authority’s practice of shooting and poisoning stray dogs and cats in an attempt to reduce their populations. Since the animals frequently endure terrible agony before being put to death, these operations are incredibly cruel. Worse, these creatures suffer for no reason because killing stray animals is ineffective at controlling their populations.

We recognize that the Palestinian Authority, like any administration, is concerned about its inhabitants’ health and safety, and that homeless animals constitute a hazard to people. However, your techniques of managing animal numbers are absolutely ineffectual. Most kill campaigns only remove a tiny portion of an animal population in one location, and even that is rapidly restored when neighboring species move into “vacant” territory.

Trapping, spaying/neutering, and releasing animals, on the other hand, will stabilize and eventually reduce their populations. Spayed/neutered animals will continue to occupy territorial niches, preventing new animals from migrating or being born in that territory. Additionally, these animals will receive vaccinations to stop the spread of disease to Palestinians.

Please, for the sake of logic and compassion, make shooting and poisoning Palestinian animals illegal! Adopt spay and neuter programs in collaboration with animal welfare organizations.”

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