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Residents seek to own homeless pets

More Nairobians are warming up to pet-owning as tens line up to adopt animals from the largest domestic animal rescue shelter in the county every month.

“Ninety percent of our monthly adoptions of dogs and cats are by local Kenyans, the presumption that animal adoption is an expatriates’ thing is a fallacy,” said the Kenya Society for the Protection and Care of Animals (KSPCA) CEO Jean Gilchrist in Karen.

The five-acre shelter rehomes 50 dogs and 20 cats on average every month, of the at least 121 dogs, 92 cats, seven donkeys, five dogs, four rabbits and over 30 pigs at the shelter, which increase with each rescue trip across the city.

Gilchrist, who for the past 26 years has dedicated her life to caring for neglected domestic animals in Nairobi, advised city residents to keep pets only if they can take care of them.

“People must understand that animals have feelings and character and their worth must be respected,” says Gilchrist, who homes two of the most famous animals in the country: Mkombozi, the stray dog that rescued an abandoned baby in Dagoretti in 2009 and the “M-pigs” used by a civil society group to demonstrate against the National Assembly members’ move to increase their perks earlier in the year.

Mkombozi had no home , but the pigs were impounded by the police soon after the demonstration and taken to the shelter.

“People see all these pretty dogs and cats and go ooh! I must have one of those, only to find taking care of them isn’t quite as easy as it seemed and they end up abandoning them or mistreating them,” she points out.

Before moving to Kenya in the 1970s, Gilchrist was an X-ray technician in her native Scotland.

On top of animal rescue, the organisation visits slaughterhouses around the city to inspect how animals are put down and also offers treatment to mistreated donkeys around Nairobi.

Stray animals found roaming the streets or animals left to fend for themselves when owners move make up most of the population of stray dogs and cats in the city.

Interested people take a trip around the catteries or kennels to select the animal their like before spending some time with it and playing in a designated area to ascertain their compatibility.