Susan Stevenson is a major dog lover.
So, when she moved to Bahrain 13 years ago to set up a human resources consulting company, she was shocked to see dozens of thin, weak canines roaming the streets of the Middle Eastern country.
“They were looking for food. And it didn’t matter whether it was 10-degree Celsius weather in the winter or 50-degree weather in the summer, this was happening 12 months of the year,” says the P.E.I. native.
A few months later, she noticed a mother and father dog caring for a litter of puppies living under a piece of wood, outside her compound. The makeshift shelter had been placed there by workers who were working on a nearby construction project.
The workers were feeding the dogs with their lunches.
“But, after the work was done the workers were gone and the dogs were there with their puppies. And they were starving. That really got me triggered.”
Springing into action, she took all the dogs to a kennel. And, with help from her large network of friends, she was able to find homes for the puppies in Canada, the United States and the Philippines.
“I brought momma and poppa in with me. They live with me in Bahrain, along with three Shih Tzus,” says Stevenson.
That was just the beginning of her work with Precious Paws, an organization that focuses on rescue and rehoming dogs.
“Over 13 years, I’ve seen a tremendous growth in the number of homeless dogs,” said Stevenson, who also witnessed the local attitude – that dogs are disposable.
It was in sharp contrast to her experience in Canada, where dogs are valued and treated like family members.
“When some people leave Bahrain, they can’t take the dog back with them because they can’t afford it. So, they open up the car door and leave them to their own devices, un-neutered.”
The Bahrain government is not equipped to manage the vastly growing number of homeless strays in the country.
“So, (our organization) has been bringing in international organizations to do CNR – capture, neuter, release. They neutered 100 last week.”
In rescuing dogs, Stevenson has many stories to tell of their living conditions.
One lived next to the water on a washed-up couch.
Another sat on a median, in the middle of a highway for two weeks, waiting for his owner to come back to get him.
Still another, who had been neutered and vaccinated and seen by Stevenson, had been let back on the street when no one wanted to adopt her.
“Yuki found her way back to the vet clinic and was scratching at the door to be let in. So, the vet let her in.”
The veterinarian was aware of the Canadian’s concern and reached out to her Stevenson, who was out of the country, at the time.
“Yuki was a dog that shouldn’t have been on the street and now she had a cut on her leg. I didn’t know what to do, so I sent our driver to go and get her and take her to a kennel.”
When Stevenson returned to Bahrain, she brought her father, Murray Stevenson,
and sister-in-law, Claire Currie, along on vacation.
“I took them both to a kennel and said, ‘one of you two are going to fall in love with this dog and take her home with you.’ And they both fell in love with her.”
In the end, Currie won out the bet and applied for the dog. And Stevenson arranged to have the gentle Saluki shipped to P.E.I.
Currie was happy with her decision to adopt her.
“She’s such a beautiful dog. I’ve worked with her to desensitize her from the trauma she experienced. She loves to go for long walks,” says Currie.
Meanwhile, Stevenson has made the long journey back to Bahrain where she is making plans to bring other canines to Canada.
“They are beautiful dogs, very friendly, all ready to walk into a new home.”
She also arranged for her father to receive one.
“He finally got his Shih Tzu.”
Precious Paws fast facts
- The organization’s goal is to find the right dog for the right home; the right people who will genuinely love them, through the good times and the bad.
- Before the dogs are rehomed they are neutered, vaccinated and pass the international health requirements checklist.
- For more information, contact Susan Stevenson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- To enquire about donations, contact email@example.com.