By Jamal Halaby | Associated Press

In this Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013 photo, a zoo keeper shows Abyad on a wheeled dog cart at the Humane Center for Animal Welfare in Amman, Jordan. Abyad's legs were injured in an incident of abuse. (AP Photo/Mohammad Hannon)
In this Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013 photo, a zoo keeper shows Abyad on a wheeled dog cart at the Humane Center for Animal Welfare in Amman, Jordan. Abyad’s legs were injured in an incident of abuse. (AP Photo/Mohammad Hannon)

MADABA, Jordan (AP) — In the mountains of southwestern Jordan, where tradition says Moses saw the Promised Land, dozens of sick dogs lie chained and starving at an isolated olive plantation.

The dogs, including 40 puppies, eat only rotten chicken wings every few days, getting just enough water and food to keep them alive to breed. But the scene that would horrify animal lovers in the West gets only a shrug from their breeder, a 27-year-old man who describes his operation as a “great tax-free business.”

Dog breeding — coupled with dognapping — is a thriving business in Jordan, where lax laws call for only a $7 fine for violators and police remain hesitant to pursue those suspected of animal abuse. Activists have campaigned for years for increased penalties, but lawmakers seem uninterested to pursue them in a culture where animal abuse remains rampant.

For Mohammad, the breeder at the olive plantation in Madaba, 30 kilometers (18 miles) southwest of Amman, the abused animals represent $7,000 a month in earnings. He said he can make that much from selling just four puppies, mostly German Shepherds and Huskies, raised at his father’s farm.

Most of the breeding dogs come from “street hunters,” said Mohammad, who asked that only his first name be used to avoid having to pay taxes on his additional income. “Street hunters”: That’s the term used for thieves who steal animals off the streets and from homes in Jordan to sell to breeders.

Such thefts often garner shrugs from authorities. Interior decorator Zeina Khalil said she had two German Shepherd puppies stolen from her home in the capital, Amman, in July. She called the police, but “the operator hung up in my face when I told him it was my two poor puppies,” Khalil said.

The thefts are so organized that every Friday before dawn, breeders converge on the so-called “thieves market” in Amman to buy stolen puppies, dogs, guinea pigs, snakes, cats, and birds of all kinds. An Associated Press journalist who visited the market recently saw a man who identified himself as Mahmoud sell for $100 a barking German Shepherd that he freely admitted was the victim of a dognapping.

The dog was “stolen from a filthy rich family that taught him manners,” Mahmoud said.

Casual animal abuse remains common across much of the Arab world. In Lebanon, an online video last month showed two young men force a cat into a microwave and cook it for few seconds until it screamed in pain. In Egypt, authorities beat pigs to death with iron bars and stabbed piglets over swine-flu fears.

Such abuse likely comes from Islamic tradition, which warns adherents against contact with dogs and other animals deemed impure, said Hussein Khazaei, the dean of the sociology department at Jordan’s Al-Balqa Applied University.

“Generation after generation was taught that dogs are impure, cats dirty the house and ruin the furniture, that animals are generally vicious, and that it is useless to have a pet,” Khazaei said.

There have been some efforts made toward protecting animals in Jordan. Princess Alia — a passionate animal advocate and the half-sister of Jordan’s King Abdullah II — serves as the chair of the country’s first animal shelter. She also forced a Jordanian slaughterhouse to close after Australian animal rights activists took video there of a bull being beaten and stabbed before having its head cut off.

Yet lawmakers and government officials declined interview requests to discuss animal rights in Jordan with an AP journalist. Margret Ledger, a Briton who runs the animal shelter Princess Alia is involved with, simply called the lack of compassion for animals “very sad and frustrating.”

In this Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013 photo, Mahmoud, a zoo keeper, pokes lions with a metal stick to provoke them to roar as an attraction for visitors at a zoo in Amman, Jordan
In this Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013 photo, Mahmoud, a zoo keeper, pokes lions with a metal stick to provoke them to roar as an attraction for visitors at a zoo in Amman, Jordan

That attitude can even be seen at Jordan’s largest zoo, where a zookeeper named Mahmoud beat a lion’s head with an iron bar to force him to roar for visitors on a recent day.

“Animals must be treated forcefully to know that humans are their master,” he said, smiling.

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“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated” ~ Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948)

In this Friday, Nov. 22, 2013 photo, men keep a stolen cat in a bird cage at the so-called "thieves market" in downtown Amman, Jordan.
In this Friday, Nov. 22, 2013 photo, men keep a stolen cat in a bird cage at the so-called “thieves market” in downtown Amman, Jordan.
In this Friday, Aug. 9, 2013 photo, Mahmoud, a zoo keeper, blows cigarette smoke in the face of a lion, to provoke and make him roar as an attraction for visitors at a zoo in Amman, Jordan.
In this Friday, Aug. 9, 2013 photo, Mahmoud, a zoo keeper, blows cigarette smoke in the face of a lion, to provoke and make him roar as an attraction for visitors at a zoo in Amman, Jordan.
In this Friday, Nov. 22, 2013 photo, a stolen dog is chained on a street used for the so-called "thieves market" in downtown Amman, Jordan.
In this Friday, Nov. 22, 2013 photo, a stolen dog is chained on a street used for the so-called “thieves market” in downtown Amman, Jordan.
In this Friday, Nov. 22, 2013 photo, Omar Barrishi plays with his rescued 20-month-old Belgian Malinois dog, Shadow, on a picnic with rescued dogs in Ajloun, Jordan. Shadow was rescued and underwent successful surgery after his rear legs were chained until they broke in an incident of abuse.
In this Friday, Nov. 22, 2013 photo, Omar Barrishi plays with his rescued 20-month-old Belgian Malinois dog, Shadow, on a picnic with rescued dogs in Ajloun, Jordan. Shadow was rescued and underwent successful surgery after his rear legs were chained until they broke in an incident of abuse.

3 thoughts on “Animal abuse, theft remains widespread in Jordan and other Islamic countries.

  • WATERSLAGER PETSHOP WARNING, REVIEWS, SCAM
    Never EVER buy a pet from Amman, Jordan.

    I purchased a parrot from Waterslager Pet Shop Amman, Jordan, their address is:

    First Circle jabal amman 9th Shaban Street Building No. 31، عمان 11190, Jordan
    Phone number: +962 7 9566 2667
    Owner name: Mohammed Ziada OR Mohammed Ziadeh

    Before I made the purchase I asked the owner if he can provide me the necessary documents that I need in order to take this parrot with me outside of Jordan to Canada and the owner Mohammed Ziada confirmed to me that he will be able to provide me with these documents, when I made the purchase he did not provide me with any papers and he said he will provide it to me later because he has to first obtain it from the seller who sold him the pet, and he never provided me with any receipt or invoice and I asked him why and he said because if he provides me with the receipt he has to pay the government taxes and he doesn’t want to pay any taxes to the Jordanian government.

    When I took my pet to the vet, the vet advised me that it will be impossible to travel with my pet without a paper called Certificate of Origin in which I have to obtain this from the seller who in this case is Waterslager Pet Shop Amman.

    And when I spoke to Mohammed Ziada, he disagreed and he said I can get this paper from another place, I spoke to so many places and everyplace I’ve spoken to all advised me that the only place I can obtain this paper from is the actual seller which is Waterslager PetShop Amman.

    I called the owner again Mohammed Ziada and then advised him of what I had been advised off and he advised me that he told me from the beginning that he will never be able to provide me with this paper, I disagreed and I told him that from the beginning he promised me that he will provide me all documents that I need in order to bring this Pet outside of Jordan to Canada, he said I’m sorry there’s nothing I can do.

    Mohammed Ziada told me that he is selling a book supposedly he is supposedly the author of it, the name of the book is Book of secrets of the African grey, when I looked into this further I learned that this is a complete lie, all he did was that he took an English Book that talks about the African gray and then he translated the book to Arabic and he started selling the book pretending that he is the actual author which is against copyright laws.

    I advise you never EVER to buy ANY pet from Amman, Jordan at all because all of these pet shops are crooks, scammers and liars, they want to sell you a pet just because they want the money so quick, the pets you buy you may never be able to travel with it and the pet could have many illnesses and if you have to buy one never buy it from Waterslager Petshop.

    I also advise you NEVER to believe positive comments posted about the shop at all because the owner can post positive comments himself to make his Pet Shop look good.

    Thank you for taking the time to read my story and I hope you don’t make the same mistake that I made.

  • I’m sorry that you and the parrot had such an unpleasant experience. But I thank you for sharing your tale of caution about dealing with unscrupulous dealers in the animal trade.

  • After a year the bird had died and the doctor was 100% right when he first said and advised me that the pet parrot will die and the owner lied.

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