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I have a soft spot for humanity, everyone knows this. But in reality – my soft spot applies to everything with a beating heart. A little over two years ago, I adopted the greatest, most lovable, sweet and human-like puppy from a mill down in Georgia thanks to a Facebook friend and her rescue missions with Eleventh Hour Rescue. Anyone who knows me knows the level of attachment that I have to my furry daughter, Stella. She sleeps with me – she comes to work with me – she even comes to rallies with me. We are inseparable. She taught me what it means to be depended on, as her entire life revolves around my quality of care for her – and she gave me a glimpse into what the beginnings of motherhood will be like one day; which is why I’m now delaying kids ?.
Nonetheless, my rescue pup turned me into a better, kinder, more patient person. And though I have always been fascinated by animals, I have a greater appreciation and respect for them all because of her. So you can imagine how my heart has been feeling ever since I discovered an amazing woman and her rescue missions via Facebook (the Internet is a beautiful thing – sometimes).
Lama Ghobar of Amman, Jordan, has been dedicating the last several years of her life to rescuing dogs around the streets of Amman, and finding them the loving and caring homes that they deserve to have – even if that means that home is across the globe. After learning about her rescue mission for a 9-year-old dog named Zahara, I became entranced in her work and reached out for an interview. People who rescue animals will always hold a special place in my heart and soul, and I will always be thankful for their efforts as they gave me the greatest dog anyone could ask for (I know everyone says that about their dog but really – Stella is the best of them all).
Here’s what she’d like the world to know about her rescue missions and how we can all play our part in helping animals suffering around the world …
MM: Tell us about your rescue missions, how did you get into rescuing dogs and puppies?
LG: It’s simply my calling and purpose. I was born to be an animal carer. When I was younger, I once saw a pigeon flying head first into the roof because there was crust around and in her eyes. I was fearless enough to hold her and remove the crust so she could fly again. I naturally ended up taking care of my neglected neighbor’s dog. It grew with me. So many things in my life stopped making sense because I realized they hindered what God intended for me to do. You simply don’t go into rescuing, it’s something I believe you are born with.
I was born to be an animal carer.
I rescue and foster the homeless dogs of Jordan known as the Canaan breed. This breed is a Biblical breed of dogs and is the oldest breed in the world.
Why do you only foster this breed?
It’s an unfortunate reality, but very few people are willing to take this breed in in Jordan.
Have you given your missions a name?
Yes, I started an NGO in Jordan named Canaan Rescue Jordan-Malath. It’s an NGO registered in Jordan. Most of my work is on our Facebook page.
I see you find foster and permanent homes for rescues outside of Amman, like to the U.S. and Canada – how do you find them homes and how do you get them there?
My fosters are some of the most abused dogs you will ever meet. Finding capable homes to take them in in Jordan is almost impossible. The Canaan breed is not the breed of choice in Jordan. So you can imagine the situation when it’s an abused dog and of the Canaan breed. Not much working for these poor puppies.
After years of volunteering, I managed to create a small yet solid network of animal lovers that trust me and trust the work I do. I always tell the story of my fosters, and I show their progress. This creates a bond with my foster animal and people abroad, making it a bit easier to find suitable homes for them. All of my fosters are properly assessed, fixed and vaccinated. People need to trust you in order to adopt your fosters. Must like a dog needs to trust you to live a stable life in your home.
What condition are most of the animals you rescue in prior to finding and helping them?
Where do I begin! The violence and detachment from animals as sensitive beings is reflecting hugely on animals in Jordan. I have fostered and found homes for dogs that have experienced the worst of life, anywhere from being set on fire and dragged by cars, being hit by cars, being stabbed, dogs that were raped and abused, dogs that were blind, etc. I remember rescuing one puppy, as young as 1 month old, that had chemical burns and his ears and tails cropped. Many of the dogs I rescue were left tied/chained somewhere without food and water. Overall, my fosters are all dogs that were dying being threatened with death and just needed a lot of love. I only open my home to the abused Canaan, mainly because not so many people are willing to take the time to do it.
Tell us about the rescue process – after you find an animal in need, how do you go about providing them with the necessary care to then finding them a home?
Usually, a kind stranger reports an abuse case to the animal care group that I am a part of. After that, if I have enough space to foster I ask that they meet me at a vet clinic or bring the rescue to my home and I take it from there. If I don’t have the space (you cannot have too many dogs at one time or you won’t be able to provide the full care needed for each of them), I try to find another foster home or board them in kennels until my existing foster dogs are adopted and more space is available in my own. I do everything on my own, but I call on help for when it comes to transporting them mainly. I raise funds for the sole purpose of paying transportation fees. After the dogs heal mentally and physically, I put them up for international adoption. They go to some of the best homes in the United States.
How do you afford to send these animals overseas to their new homes?
Most of the times I pay from my own pocket, or through my pet accessory business BonJoJo Pets which helps in the basic expenses of vaccination and spaying/neutering. In terms of transporting the animals – I typically set up a GoFundMe page depending on where the dogs are being sent.
Tell us about BonJoJo4Pets. Where did the inspiration for this come from?
The idea is in line with my animal rescue – I use the Majlis fabric or the Bedouin fabric along with water proof fabrics to make the most stylish dog and cat beds, coats, dog seat covers and couch covers. The products look like a piece of art work. So beautiful and very high quality. Also affordable.
A huge part of the profit goes towards my rescues and the stray cats I feed around my home. The tailor that makes the bed is very talented, but has no National I.D. so BonJoJo pets is a major source of income for him and his family. I rotate the work every few months among different tailors in need to give everyone a share. I also ship worldwide.
As an adoptive fur mom myself – what is one thing you’d like people to know about rescue animals that can encourage more people to adopt instead of shop for their furry friends at a pet store?
Rescued animals remember that they have been rescued every day of their lives. The feeling of content and wanting to please you is always there. They are forever grateful to you for saving them. Nothing is more beautiful than saying, “I’ve adopted a rescue.”
Rescued animals remember that they have been rescued every day of their lives.
You are literally saving that animal’s life.
Lastly and most importantly, how can those who love animals, help you in your rescue missions?
So much can be done! They can foster, adopt, share my posts, transport, and donate – not just to me and my missions but to all animal rescue missions around the world. I know for me personally, most of the times it’s lack of funds that inhibits me from rescuing as many animals as possible. It’s incredible to rescue so many animals but like I mentioned before – you never want to rescue an animal that you cannot care for with 110% dedication. You never want them to end up in worse condition after being rescued because you cannot properly care for them.
Other simpler things that can help would be discussing the animals situation in Jordan & talking about the Canaan breed can help a lot in introducing people’s social networks and exposure to this wonderful breed in need.
In an effort to address the haram police and wallah bros that feel it necessary to sit behind their screens and “educate” others on their biased and unconfirmed beliefs, I want to address the importance of caring for animals, inclusive of dogs, in Islam. I grew up in a family that viewed dogs as not “haram” but also not proper in a Muslim household. My grandfather, God rest his soul, was a Sheikh – and whenever he caught me petting a neighbor’s dog, I was ordered to wash my hands 7 times until they were considered clean.
Though it is believed that caring for cats is sunnah (good deeds), many Muslims still consider dogs to be dirty animals or improper to have in the home; despite that never being mentioned in the Quran. Dogs specifically are mentioned twice throughout the Quran. Once in reference to being allowed to eat meat carried home by hunting dogs, and again in a story about a group of believers who escaped to a cave with their dogs. The dogs were described as gentle and protective of their human company in the verse stating: “And their dog stretched his forelegs across the threshold,” Quran (18:18).
In actuality, the way dogs are explained by this verse considers them good company for believers. The belief that dogs are dirty or haram comes from a fabricated Hadith (which happens often and it’s why Islam is facing the challenges it faces today) in line with the same fabricated story that the Prophet (SAWS) ordered the killing of dogs. Islam, and our Prophet, only preach peace and promote love for all of God’s creations. It is the fallacy rooted in those beliefs, that result in people, like Lama, having to rescue abused dogs and transport them around the world to safe homes because loving homes are closed off in the countries where they are rescued from. We must be better in our treatment and respect of all animals and all that is created by Him.
Plus, dogs are freakin’ awesome – I don’t even know why you wouldn’t want one unless you’re not into that whole “unconditional love” thing.