Thu, 01 June 2023
The Bahrain Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (BSPCA) is facing the biggest crisis in its history. Kristian Harrison spoke to BSPCA Chairman, Mahmood Faraj, about the organisation’s struggles and how more than four decades of supporting the Kingdom’s animals could be coming to an end without urgent action.
In 1979, a small group of committed and passionate animal lovers established the BSPCA as a humane, charitable, non-profit organisation dedicated to the welfare of animals.
For the last 44 years, tens of thousands of animals have been saved, cared for and loved by the society’s dedicated group of volunteers and staff. However, it is now in dire need.
Despite operating as a charity, it receives no official funding whatsoever and depends on the generosity of the public for its funds as well as monies generated by the Thrift Shop in Budaiya.
Mr Faraj, who has been the Chairman since 2010, believes that a combination of factors has led to the current financial crisis.
“Firstly, the Covid-19 pandemic hampered us immensely,” he explains. “We had to close our Animal Welfare Centre in Askar to all but a select few staff, and our Thrift Shop closed for an extended period of time.
“Obviously this meant that we could not generate income and in an even crueller twist of fate, the large number of expats who left Bahrain during Covid could not donate a lot of their items when they left. Of course, we couldn’t hold our regular fundraisers for a long time either.
“Coupled with this is the steep rise in oil, electricity and water prices in the last few years. We are regulated by the Ministry of Labour and Social Development yet we are under the auspices of the Non-Government Organisations department so we receive zero funding from the government. Not only that, we are charged commercial rates the same as large international corporations, yet we are not a commercial entity. How is this fair?”
Another issue is fewer adoptions. In 2019, more than 200 animals were adopted, yet last year it was half that. Accordingly, there are now more than 200 animals at the Rescue Centre and the number is growing, which feeds into the concurrent issue of increased utility prices with water especially being required in higher amounts.
“The Rescue Centre is open 24 hours a day,” Mr Faraj explains. “That also means we need some permanent staff alongside our amazing volunteers. We currently have nine, two of whom are Bahraini, but if we don’t receive urgent funds within the next couple of months we will be in big trouble and have to cut staff.
“Without the AWC, hundreds of needy animals would be left without a home or other support. We desperately hope it does not come to that but I urge the public to do whatever they can, whether that’s donations to the shelter or the Thrift Shop. Of course, one of the best options is adoption and we offer it free to good homes for animals that have been in our care for more than two years. All of our animals have been spayed or neutered, vaccinated and assessed for their physical and mental health.
“The BSPCA and its work is buried deep in my heart, it’s been a huge part of my life for so long. I hope to continue it for a long time to come, but we need help.”
For more information or donations, call 66 608-901