Thursday, August 24, 2006

The latest from our Saudi allies: Sale of dogs and cats banned in the Kingdom

I'm almost done reading Jared Diamond's Pulitzer Prize winning book, Guns, Germs, and Steel. In it, Diamond makes the observation that bringing up pets--the author was observing New Guinean children taking care of their pet kangaroos--is a consistent trait among humans.

Leave it the Muslim extremists to fight human nature. Most people, and even more kids, love pets, and we all know who "Man's best friend is."

In Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, the sale of pet dogs and cats is now banned, according to the Arab News.

The Makkah governorate, acting on a request from the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, has decided to prohibit the sale of pet cats and dogs. The commission made the request after it noticed many young Saudis going out in streets with their pet dogs in violation of the Kingdom’s culture and traditions.

Saudi authorities in Jeddah have begun enforcing the decision.

The commission complained of Saudi youth, apparently influenced by Western culture, bringing their pets into public places, allegedly causing distress especially to families with young children.

The distress is for the parents of those kids; the young ones of course want to play with those cats and dogs.
The municipality is in the process of dispatching special squads to close down such shops. The growing trend in purchasing domestic pets has encouraged businessmen to open shops and clinics for such animals in Jeddah. Veterinary clinics charge SR100 to SR200 for diagnosing sick animals and the amount can increase if the animal requires special treatment or surgery.

Dogs are barely mentioned in the Qur'an, but in the Hadith, the collection of quotations of Muhammad, dogs, with exceptions made for guard or hunting canines, are viewed as "unclean." Pigs with a purpose, I guess.

Cats are viewed much more favorably within Islam than "very dirty" dogs. My guess on why the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice is interested in ending Jeddah cat sales is that as different as the two animals are, they're forever linked together, like salt and pepper.

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