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International Animal Rescue Saving animals from suffering around the world

IAR Malta assists with evacuation of cats and dogs from Libya

Max Farrugia, IAR's Malta chairman, last week organised the successful evacuation of 16 cats and two dogs from Libya, accompanied by their Dutch owners Juliette and Wim Kouwe. The couple were determined not to leave their animals behind and, thanks to Max, they didn't have to.

The animals were transported to safety on board a CatamaranAfter working tirelessly for more than a week to progress the issue, Max finally made direct contact with the couple. He learned from them that they were waiting to board a ship bound for Malta. In light of this, Max made all the necessary arrangements with the veterinary services in Malta so that when they arrived the animals could be taken into quarantine until they could be flown on to Holland.

After a number of delays caused by bad weather, the Catamaran finally left in the morning on 1 March and arrived in Malta that evening. The couple and their animals were all exhausted after a total of 30 hours on board ship. They were met not only by Max but also by members of the Dutch Embassy. The animals were in good health, with the exception of one cat that needed veterinary attention. He had been suffering from heart problems prior to leaving Libya and was refusing to eat. As there was no liquid food available for cats in Malta, he was being fed on a diet of mashed chicken mixed with baby food. Fortunately, Catastrophes Cat Sanctuary in the UK was able to source some liquid food which was sent out to Malta by courier and arrived in only a matter of days.

Juliette and Wim were overjoyed at the success of the evacuation which almost certainly saved the animals' lives. They had said previously that they were not prepared to leave their pets behind under any circumstances. "Juliette is autistic and cannot live without her animals. They would have died of hunger and thirst if they had been left behind," said Farrugia.

Juliette at home in Tripoli with her animalsAll the animals had the necessary passports and health certificates to be allowed into Malta. New papers will be prepared by the Maltese authorities to facilitate their return home. Since the revolt started animals have been abandoned and the vet clinic has closed down. NGOs in Libya could not be reached by animal welfare groups and the situation was chaotic. Out of all the people leaving Libya as an emergency measure, the majority had abandoned their animals and one could notice a considerable number of animals on the streets.

Juliette explained that she used to pick up abandoned cats in particular and care for them, neuter them and then on some occasions give them to friends who loved animals. She added that the majority of Libyans do not respect animals and animal welfare is still lacking in the country.

At the moment the animals are in quarantine, they are fit and healthy and recovered from the stress they had endured during the last 10 days or so.