Covid-19 impact: Dubai’s oldest dog shelter, K9 Friends, may shut down – News

Not-for-profit organization posts an urgent message for immediate help



Myrtle with Helen. Photo: Nandini

Published: Wed 29 Jun 2022, 3:46 PM

Dubai’s longest-running rehoming center for animals is on the brink of shutting down. And Covid is to blame big time for that.

The not-for-profit shelter gets a major income boost from events that it runs in winter, but the last two winters, due to Covid-19, they haven’t been able to do those events, which has hit them hard.

Compelled by dire circumstances, the team at K9 recently posted an urgent notice on social media: “If K9 Friends do not receive immediate help, then they will be forced to close the doors within the next few months.”

The post further read: “Unfortunately, the last few years have been hard for everyone, and it is with a heavy heart that K9 Friends are now in financial trouble. With no official help, we can no longer sustain the financial burden of Dewa, maintenance, insurance, staff costs and vet bills that are associated with running a rehoming shelter.”

The message has touched a chord among residents and bodies who are trying to save the many furry friends at the purpose-built facility from being rendered homeless.

Take the case of Myrtle, an eight-week-old pup rescued by K9 Friends Dubai after being abandoned and rescued from an industrial area in the UAE.

She now faces the prospect of being homeless again if K9 has to down its shutters.

When Khaleej Times visited the shelter home in Jebel Ali, we were informed that like Myrtle, 120 dogs of all ages, colours, shapes, sizes and with varying personalities and temperaments are housed at K9 before they find their ‘forever home’.

Though the facility was gifted by the Government in 2009, the day-to-day running of the shelter must be met by raising money through adoption fees, sponsor programs and the sale of K9 Friends merchandise.

This not-for-profit organization continues to rescue stray and abandoned dogs but is constantly struggling to rehome them.

Solange Bornand, general manager at K9 Friends Dubai, says, “The reason for the post is because of the situation, which isn’t good at all. We are finding it hard to survive this summer. So, this is a statement to raise awareness about K9 Friends. We’ve been very quiet. We’ve been doing our job for the past 30 years, helping and rescuing dogs. We do our best to match dogs with suitable families. We’ve been doing all this for all these years.

“Unfortunately, we’ve reached a point where without the financial support, we cannot stay open, and we cannot pursue our mission. We are asking for help, any kind of help, whether it’s attracting new sponsors, be it corporate sponsors or others We are also looking at attracting new volunteers, new adopters, or new festivals that could help us.

“We also want to further our educational mission and welcome more schools and more children in the shelter, as we’ve been doing in the past. But during Covid, all the school visits had to be put on hold,” she adds.

Another unsung hero (volunteer), Helen Bragger, also the kennel manager at K9 Friends, explains why this volunteer-run centre, established in 1989, is now struggling to keep the place up and running.

She says: “Covid has been difficult for all of us, and it’s hit us hard. Winter is a time when we can run events and get the public involved, but in the last two winters, we haven’t been able to do those events.

“The winter events keep us going throughout the summer, and because of the lack of events in the last two winters this summer, we just don’t have the resources to keep us going anymore.”

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The passionate volunteer from the UK points out how each dog is documented and how they place priority on high standards of kennelling and veterinary care.

“We have 50 volunteers doing various jobs at the 55 kennels. When a new dog arrives, it entails a lot of paperwork. We carry out various tests foremost to ensure it has no contagious diseases. After that, the dog goes into isolation or quarantine for a period. Again, this is to protect the rest of the kennel. The dogs are then fully vaccinated so we can release them into the main kennel sooner. We check them thoroughly; we neuter them. Once they get the green light that they ‘re fit and healthy, they mix with the other dogs in the main kennel.”

According to the K9 Friends website, it costs around Dh5,000 to care for each dog for a year on average.

Helen adds: “We have sponsored walks here at the kennels. We also have an annual ball; we do corporate events. Not only are we talking about the people that these events bring in, but it’s also the coverage that they give us. It helps in raising awareness about who we are. We’ve almost missed two years of people through the doors to then spread the word about what we do.”

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