Kalhari, Bazyli and Nathalia lived in different regions in Qatar, but all share the same story – being left for dead by their owners.
These three Saluki dogs were found in Doha, Qatar. They are among hundreds of Salukis that Rescue Saluki’s Middle East found in the streets wounded, starved and abandoned.
RSME is a non-profit organization that finds Salukis in the Middle East and brings them to the United States for adoption. It works with seven smaller rescue groups that aid in rescuing the Salukis, including Dogs In Doha, based in Qatar; Dubai organization K9; and Alabama Sighthound Adoptions in Alabama, which works closely with UF’s Small Animal Hospital.
Kalhari, Bazyli and Nathalia were all rescued, brought back to healthy conditions and adopted into homes in Gainesville.
Danielle Shmalberg, who adopted Kalhari and Bazyli, is a veterinary care manager and surgical floor technician at the University of Florida Small Animal Hospital. Shmalberg said the Saluki breed is known in the United States as a fancy show dog, but in the Middle East, they’re known for hunting.
“It’s kind of like how we have pitbulls here that are kind of the overrun breed and there’s a lot of them and unfortunately sometimes they end up in bad situations,” Shmalberg said. “That’s kind of where Salukis are in Qatar. A very popular breed, but they are often left in the streets.”
There’s a process that takes place before these dogs are transported halfway around the world. Once RSME finds the Salukis, they are taken care of at a shelter in Qatar, where they are brought back to a stable condition.
Shmalberg said Bazyli was found a couple of months old under some desert brush in the sand, along with three of his siblings, while their mother looked over them. The dogs were found in poor conditions; bone-skinny and desperate for food and water.
Kalhari was found in the streets and was skittish. He was also very skinny and had a deep wound on his right upper thigh. It is unknown how he got it.
A car likely hit Nathalia. As a result, she had a fractured pelvis, fractured elbow and shards of buckshot, or shotgun shells, in her body. The buckshot could have been a result of Nathalia being used for hunting, Shmalberg said. After therapy, a Gainesville native adopted Nathalia.
After the dogs are healthy enough to travel, they are paired with flight buddies, travelers that volunteer to claim the dogs as baggage.
Then, they take a 16-hour flight from Doha to Houston, Texas. When they arrive in Houston, they are either picked up by their adopters or transported to ASHA in Daphne, Alabama where they are sheltered and taken care of, like Bazyli, Kalhari and Nathalia were.
“They have seen the worst of humanity,” Darla Dean, founder of ASHA said. “When they are no longer profitable, because there are very weak animal welfare laws in some of these countries, the animals are brutally treated.”
Shmalberg first adopted Bazyli when he was one year old after receiving treatment at ASHA. She then adopted Kalhari when he was about four years old. Kalhari was taken care of at ASHA as well, but was monitored at UF’s Small Animal Hospital because he still had and continues to have lumps on his muscles.
Nathalia needed extensive treatment at the UF Small Animal Hospital. ASHA raised around $4,000 dollars to pay for Nathalia’s surgical operations at UF’s Small Animal Hospital.
If any more Salukis are brought to Gainesville, Shmalberg and her team at the animal hospital will continue to embrace the challenge of healing this wounded breed.
“They need love. They need somebody to show them that people are good,” Shmalberg said. “My husband and I talk quite frequently about how happy they are. I’m very happy we’re able to provide for them the life that they have.”