Kinship Circle: Diary Of Animal Rescuer In War-Torn Lebanon

February 2nd, 2007 3:32 pm by Kelly Garbato

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Kinship Circle – info [at] kinshipcircle.org
Date: Feb 1, 2007 7:01 PM
Subject: Diary Of Animal Rescuer In War-Torn Lebanon

Kinship Circle Primary – PERMISSION TO CROSS-POST AS WRITTEN
(Please do not delete identity/disclaimer information)

2/1/06: Diary Of American Animal Rescuer In War-Torn Lebanon

SOURCE: Joanne Green, c/o helena [at] integral.com.lb

FROM KINSHIP CIRCLE:

We are currently corresponding with Joanne Greene, an American rescuer working with Beirut for the Ethical Treatment Animals in Lebanon. I have edited entries from Joanne’s breathtaking eyewitness accounts of animal rescue in a war zone. Joanne has asked Kinship Circle to expose these stories, on behalf of BETA, so something can be done:

1. DONATE MONEY TO BETA to help them fulfill their mission to rescue/place animals caught in a war zone. Information on how to donate is at end.

2. Look for our LETTER CAMPAIGN to officials that will address humane education, TNR (trap-neuter-release), and animal welfare laws in Lebanon.

Joanne Greene writes from Lebanon: “The merciless government poisoning and shooting campaign is routinely implemented. We are gathering contact information for [Kinship Circle] letters to help stop this slaughter. Government intervention is also needed for a huge captive primate crisis in Lebanon. Your activists are the help BETA has prayed for. Thank you again.”

ABOUT JOANNE: Joanne Greene was a Katrina volunteer and first responder in Lakeview (New Orleans) who is in Beirut to help companion animals abandoned since the war began. Massive stray populations are targets in this conflict… Joanne joins BETA to feed these strays in “hot zones.”

She says her undying dedication to animals led her from New Orleans to Beirut — much like Linda Nealon, the only other independent American to volunteer for animals in Beirut. Joanne notes: “BETA is not just fighting to save animals in a war zone, but also to change the way animals are treated in Lebanon. With Hezbollah on hand, the job is difficult and dangerous.”

Submitted to Kinship Circle 1/30/07, from Joanne Greene in Beirut

FIRST MORNING IN BEIRUT:

I awaken to black smoke billowing skyward, a scramble for supplies and the ultimate paralysis of Beirut. A country-wide strike is called and all hell breaks loose! I quickly join members of BETA, Beirut for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, as they desperately jockey food and medicine to their makeshift shelter, located in an abandoned pig farm and isolated from today’s fighting. Funds are low and food and medicine are purchased only as needed. In the wake of a strike, the rush to find money, locate supplies, and purchase them before stores close is always difficult. But today they make it! So begins a day in Beirut and the never-ending battle to save animals in war-torn Lebanon.

Kinship Circle - 2007-02-01 - 01 - BETA

Kinship Circle - 2007-02-01 - 02 - BETA

Everyday snapshots: I’m not sure what’s worse — the war or the average Beirut citizen who tortures, maims, and mistreats animals.

For Margo, who tends to BETA’s two cat shelters in downtown Beirut, things are even worse. Margo traverses the Army’s checkpoints, just steps ahead of the fighting, burning tires and gun-wielding demonstrators. Her day is perilous; never knowing if she’ll make it back to the shelter. There is no food, water or medicine if she fails. As the day unfolds, we all wonder if Margo and the cats are safe…

BETA faces these obstacles daily; along with municipalities that shoot and poison their animals… Where will my next day take me?

SECOND DAY IN BEIRUT:

I join Joelle Kanaan, BETA’s cofounder, to deliver food/water to downtown cat shelters. As we approach the center of town, Joelle gets a call warning us about fighting ahead that is randomly spilling in and out of neighborhoods. Joelle’s father pleads with her to take cover. But the cats come first and she presses on. Joelle tries to reach Margo by cell, but overloaded lines make connection impossible. Where is Margo?

After what seems like hours spent in grid-locked traffic and chaos, we reach the shelter. Joelle swiftly unloads supplies and tends to the cats. Margo has miraculously sped through Beirut’s streets to return to the shelter — and even rescues a tiny kitten along the way! Margo risks her own life to scoop up a kitten caught in a surge of fleeing people. Somehow, Margo navigates the combat to ferry this kitten to a vet so she can place her in the shelter. But the vet has closed without warning. So Margo isolates the kitten in another BETA member’s home. She’ll try again tomorrow…

By now, I join Helena to transport a worker from the dog shelter to his home. With curfew near, Helena’s Wrangler zips over smoldering barricades, some still in flames that prevent smaller cars from passing. Burning tires mask visibility. I cannot imagine how terrified and hungry the street strays are. Too dangerous for us to feed and the animals to eat, they’ve gone unfed for days… The worker arrives home safely and I too escape harm. BETA ends another harrowing day.

THIRD DAY IN BEIRUT:

Calm settles over the city. BETA retrieves a week-old puppy left on its doorstep, plus an older pup surrendered by a woman in a pricey SUV who tells BETA she operates on donations only. But the woman discards the pup without a single cent. How can BETA afford more meds and food?

As the day proceeds, a volunteer asks for pick-up of a four-month old pup; another volunteer finds a yellow lab loose in her neighborhood; a college student pleads for a six dog pick-up. A man calls about a Great Dane who has been shot and beaten so viciously his right eye is blinded. Helena meets the man, who cannot afford medical treatment, at the vet. The dog’s fate is uncertain, as bullets are lodged internally and wounds are badly infected. Helena approves necessary surgery, but worries about the dog and how BETA will finance his care. Yet these are the lucky ones, plucked from streets teaming with strays, government-poisoned animals, war-abandoned pets…

Later that day, Margo and I leave food at a few feeding stations. Margo wants to establish more stations, but cannot fund them on a regular basis. So she feeds animals as her budget permits and aches for the ones she cannot save… But today we feed, after days waiting out the crossfire. We go after dusk, so Hezbollah doesn’t notice us. At our first stop, across from Hezbollah tents, a weary cat limps toward the food. The cat’s injuries suggest collision with an automobile. BETA has no cat traps and must think quickly. So we position a small crate over the food pile and add more food. Though the cat enters our carrier, he bolts as soon as Margo approaches. We fear we’ve lost him. Fortunately, he returns and Margo closes the door behind him. We leave the rest of the food for other cats and depart with our crated cat before Hezbollah discovers us.

Back at the shelter, we learn the soot-covered cat suffers from labored breathing due to prolonged exposure to burning rubber. His back appears broken. We hope he’ll survive till morning… Margo and I return to the tents to recheck feeding stations before calling it a night. The first two stations look good, but as we near the third, we meet a Hezbollah block that freezes city traffic. The men are armed with rifles and automatic weapons, forcing me to contemplate my own mortality. I cannot think outside this moment. But this is BETA’s daily reality and Margo instinctively maneuvers through barricades until we are safe — for now.

Kinship Circle - 2007-02-01 - 03 - BETA

Kinship Circle - 2007-02-01 - 04 - BETA

A HORRID DAY IN BEIRUT:

Joelle and I work at the dog shelter, conducting home checks and ferrying dogs to the vet. Midway through our day, Joelle receives a phone call. A woman has witnessed a sack thrown from a speeding car. The sack contains three puppies with their mouths tightly bound in electrical tape. The woman manages to grab one, but the other two pups flee. We race to the scene in a
downpour. Joelle leaps from the car to find one pup cowering in a pile of rubble. Sweet and gentle, the pup is grateful for kind hands and a warm car. Joelle returns to search for the other pup amid rain, mud, and bone-chilling cold. But the third remains lost, doomed to hunger, illness, loneliness. We pray the tape around her mouth loosens to ease her suffering.

Our hearts are heavy… But the day is not over. Margo and Joelle are replenishing food stations on the other side of Beirut when a garbage truck begins to lift a trash bin filled with panicked, stray cats. The trapped cats try to claw their way out. The drivers ignore Margo and Joelle’s cries and fatally crush the cats. The two BETA volunteers will go to their grave with the image of screaming, mashed cats. How can they make the world see this travesty?

DONATE TO BERUIT FOR THE ETHICAL TREATMENT OF ANIMALS (BETA)

Stateside Account For BETA:
BETA, C/O
P.O. Box 412115
Chicago, Illinois 60641

**Stateside account for BETA is set up by Joanne Greene, who is volunteering with BETA in Beirut and supplied these diary writings and photos. Please remember Beirut is under curfew, with constant power outages. Joanne uses a BETA member’s email address: helena [at] integral.com.lb

Bank Transfer Donations To BETA’s Account In Beirut:
Name: BETA
Bank: FRANSABANK S.A.L.
Branch: Furn El Chebbak, Damas Street – Saadé Center
Account Number: 20.10.932579.58
Swift Code: FSAB LB BX

Joelle Kanaan, BETA cofounder, joelle_k [at] idm.net.lb
http://beta.beirut.com
http://animals.beirut.com/donate.php

KINSHIP CIRCLE RELATED LINKS:

8/17/06: Please Help – Innocent Faces Of War
http://www.kinshipcircle.org/disasters/middle-east/8_17_06.html

7/29/06: [MIDDLE EAST] Panic From The Blast Of Rockets
http://www.kinshipcircle.org/disasters/middle-east/7_29_06.html

7/22/06: [LEBANON] Same Eyes, Same Fear
http://www.kinshipcircle.org/disasters/middle-east/7_22_06.html

7/17/06: [MIDDLE EAST] More Forgotten Victims
http://www.kinshipcircle.org/disasters/middle-east/7_17_06.html

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Kinship Circle is a nonprofit organization. Donations help us meet expenses for the literature, website, research and campaigns — that let YOU take action for animals. Please keep Kinship Circle in mind when you donate.

DONATE: http://www.kinshipcircle.org/donation/donations.html

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KINSHIP CIRCLE – Action Campaigns I Literature I Voice For Animals
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Brenda Shoss, president * Janet Enoch, vice-president
info [at] kinshipcircle.org or kinshipcircle [at] brick.net
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Please use GoodSearch and select Kinship Circle as your designated cause.
http://www.goodsearch.com/

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