About Wings of Love, Kuwait
In late 2014, Patricia Galofre-Riska, one of our co-founders who is a flight attendant for a major international airline, was working a trip to Kuwait. On that flight, her colleague, Debbie Grant, told her that she rescues cats in Kuwait. She also told her about the plight of the abandoned dogs.
Debbie introduced Patricia, an avid dog lover, to a group of dedicated and tireless women who independently rescue cats and dogs in Kuwait from all sorts of horrific situations. Many of the dogs they save are tied to trees and posts in the sweltering desert with no food or water. Others are abandoned at the Friday Market to be sold under inhumane conditions. One dog was found trapped in a tiny birdcage; another was taped shut inside a cardboard box. After seeing the conditions of the abandoned dogs and hearing the women’s stories, Patricia decided she would do whatever she could to help as many dogs as possible.
Patricia began bringing dogs over to the United States, one at a time. In 2015, Patricia and our other co-founder, Jennifer Yoon, formed Wings of Love, Kuwait. Working closely with several women in Kuwait and with a newly formed all-volunteer United States team, Wings of Love, Kuwait began to bring over several dogs on each trip.
Today, our rescuer in Kuwait, Marlene, is the backbone of Wings of Love, Kuwait. She saves the dogs from the desert, streets, and Friday market, and takes them to safety. This is either to her farm, or to the vet if the dog needs medical care. She then provides every dog with love, compassion, training, and a place to live until they find a permanent home. To say she loves each and every dog she rescues, is an understatement!
The Wings of Love, Kuwait team in the United States works to find foster and adoptive homes for the dogs. When homes have been found, the dogs are flown to the United States either in cargo or on board the plane with a “flyer” volunteer. Both scenarios are very expensive; they include cargo fees for the dog, or full-fare plane tickets for the volunteer, plus baggage fees for the dogs. Before making their journey to the United States, each dog receives its necessary vaccinations and is microchipped. Once the dogs arrive in the United States, they either go to their adoptive homes or volunteers foster them; Wings of Love, Kuwait does not have a boarding facility for the dogs.
Like many countries worldwide, Kuwait has a very large stray dog population. The Kuwaiti culture generally does not consider dogs to be family members and people often tire of having them. When that happens, the owners simply throw them out into the street or leave them in the desert to die. Once abandoned, the dogs face more brutality, sometimes by other dogs, often by people who poison them or kill them for sport. Those dogs that escape physical harm often die from disease, dehydration, and/or starvation. This type of abuse of stray dogs is not unique to Kuwait; stray dogs in many countries worldwide face these same terrible fates.
When we are asked why we rescue dogs in Kuwait rather than in the United States, the answer is simple: hope. In Kuwait, there is no hope for these starving, abused, abandoned dogs. The Kuwaiti government does little to control the stray dog population or stop the abuse. Patricia, who is originally from South America, has flown around the world and has seen stray dogs in many countries. What she has witnessed in Kuwait is unequivocally the worst.
Happy People, Happy Dogs
The best part of Wings of Love, Kuwait’s rescue efforts is seeing the dogs thrive in their new homes. Many of the dogs are adopted in or around the Baltimore area, and we are often able to visit rescued dogs and receive regular updates from their adoptive families. To date, Wings of Love, Kuwait has facilitated the adoptions of more than 600 dogs!