Pets also suffer from wars, very few people remember animals in difficult times of conflict, and fewer recognize animals as beings who feel and love as we humans do.
In the current Syrian war, there is a very small group of people who, in addition to thinking about animals, also do a great work to give them shelter, food and help them with love and care. One of those amazing cat lovers is Mohamad Alaa Jaleel, a 43-year-old man who grew up in Aleppo, the country's second largest city, he was an electrician before the war in 2011.
He explains that at that time he used to go to butcher shops to collect the meat and distribute it to the abandoned cats in the neighborhood, Jaleel set up a shelter for cats and other animals and a small clinic in Kafr Naha, in the northern province of Aleppo.
Seeking to care for unprotected pets, Mohammed Alaa Jaleel first opened a shelter for stray cats in 2013, three years later, the shelter was bombed in 2016 during the regime's siege in Aleppo, but he managed to save 22 cats. Some time later, he opened a new shelter in Kafr Naya, in the western countryside of that city.
The new refuge is called "Ernesto", it was created in 2017 due to the problem of animal abandonment since very few pet owners decide to take their pets with them when they escape the war.
Jaleel called the shelter Ernesto, which is the name of his first cat, and set up a clinic inside it, along with his friend Mohamed Yousef, a veterinarian.
A cat lover with a giant heart
"I've been in love with cats for centuries," says Jaleel. They finance the costs of the cattery with donations from outside Syria and then give the cats the names of their donors.
"We feed them here and provide them with medical care," he said. "Donations from abroad help us provide special care for the cats."
Jaleel recalls that he used to take care of about 170 cats in Aleppo when the regime intensified its attacks on the city.
"As there was no one living in the city, the cats took refuge with me. However, many cats died or fled due to intense attacks by the regime. I only carried 22 of them during the evacuations," he recalled.
Yousef, the vet, said the cats were being examined every month. "We provide private care for newborns or pregnant cats, and we keep those with infectious diseases in a separate location until they complete their treatment," he said.
But this shelter is not limited to cats. "We treat all kinds of animals for free: horses, cows and even chickens," Jaleel explains.
The war in Syria has caused over 350,000 deaths and millions of displaced men, women and children since 2011, but we cannot forget our four-legged friends, men like Mohamad have a special place in the hearts of all cat lovers. Thank you!