One of the Kingdom’s most renowned animal welfare charities, the Bahrain Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (BSPCA) struggled during the COVID-19 pandemic as both the Animal Welfare Centre in Askar and the Thrift Shop had to close their doors. We found out the latest figures of animal adoption in Bahrain and how the society is recovering now that the Kingdom is opening up again.
There’s no denying that the Kingdom of Bahrain has an avid and ever-growing community of animal lovers that are consistently working towards positive change in terms of animal welfare on the island. To promote a sustainable and positive change, in this regard, there are several aspects that come together including animal rescue, adoption and awareness campaigns, and initiatives such as the Trap, Neuter and Release (TNR) programme which aims to minimise and control the population of strays.
The BSPCA, which was established in 1979, has been a consistent champion of animal welfare in the Kingdom for decades. However, the shelter was faced with its own share of challenges during the pandemic and now hopes to be on the upswing. Now that life has returned to some sort of normality, the BSPCA’s shelter is open to volunteers on weekends and the Thrift Shop is open to customers six days a week.
The Effects of the Pandemic
Speaking about the Animal Welfare Centre, BSPCA Vice Chairman, Yasmin Alhilli, stated that operations are slowly starting to recover to pre-pandemic levels. “During COVID, animals were no longer accepted and the Trap, Neuter, Release (TNR) programme was halted. It was a difficult and very strange time for all, and we suffered due to a lack of income that primarily comes from the Thrift Shop,” says Ms. Alhilli.
The centre is struggling to recover financially, and has requested the public to donate what they can so they may continue to do the work that they do. “Adoptions over the last two years have greatly declined due to the pandemic. We have gone from 200 animals adopted per year in 2019, down to 130 in 2020, and 110 in 2021,” she states.
Despite this, the TNR programme continues apace. The BSPCA, on average, has sponsored 260 animals per year and appointments can be made through the Centre.
The BSPCA also continues to work closely with numerous government bodies on countless cases pertaining to animal welfare. It is in regular and close contact with the Supreme Council for the Environment, and the Animal Wealth Directorate at the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Agriculture in an advisory capacity, and will continue to offer assistance in order to achieve more in future.
The society’s popular fundraisers will be making a comeback in the near future, according to Ms. Alhilli, and anyone interested is asked to follow the BSPCA’s social media channels (Facebook and Instagram) for the latest updates.
Back at the Shop
Marloes Wallin has been the proud BSPCA Thrift Shop Manager, which is located along Budaiya Highway, since June 2020. What started out as a small shop decades ago is now a two-storey villa stocked with donated, cleaned and checked goods. The shop’s revenue goes to the shelter to feed and to take care of the animals.
“Customers love to shop with us and because of the generosity of people in Bahrain who donate their pre-loved clothes, books and so much more, we have been able to run the shop for so long. We are also grateful to have a beautiful team of 12 volunteers who donate their time and effort every week to keep the shop running,” explains Ms. Wallin.
“During my tenure, I have introduced the BSPCA Weekly Special, where we highlight specific goods. One week it could be books and another toys and games. These have received very positive feedback from our customers and the whole idea of the shop is that there are different treasures to be found every day with the stock ever-changing,” she continues.
The shop team revamped the premises during the pandemic when it was forced to close for several weeks. Ironically, the closure was one of the busiest times in the shop’s history as many people in Bahrain were clearing their houses, downsizing, or moving to other countries, flooding the shop with donations.
The BSPCA Thrift Shop is also using its platform to highlight the importance of recycling, thus reducing waste in an effort to raise awareness of the environment.
“We love the idea of recycling used items. By using items again, there is less waste. We have noticed more young people are visiting our shop looking for trendy vintage items, which is great. We have such a wide selection of goods, from pencil sharpeners to designer handbags and everything in between, so there really is something for everyone,” she concludes.
Readers wishing to reach out to the BSPCA in order to make a donation or volunteer their time may do so by calling the Animal Welfare Centre on 17 591-231 or the Thrift Shop on 17 593-479. Alternatively, you may follow @bspca on Instagram or join the ‘BSPCA – Official page’ Facebook group for updates.