We have treated over 3,500 street animalsBy Enas Abdullah
We have treated over 3,500 street animalsBy Enas Abdullah
Muhannad is standing near the veterinary hospital. Suddenly, an elderly woman who appears to be terrified gets out of a yellow taxi while she is embracing a goat that appears to have signs of the disease. It turns around without knowing where it is going.
Muhannad goes towards her to help her and asks what happened and why she is so frustrated. The woman replied, “My son, this goat is sick.” Her response surprised Muhannad and told her, “There is no need for all this anxiety. The worst migh happen is that you slaughter it and eat its meat.”
Muhannad's words made the woman weep and say, "This goat is all I have," referring to the love she has for this animal, so Muhannad decided to help her find a veterinarian and accompanied her for more than two hours so that the goat could receive treatment.
This incident in March 2010 changed the life of Muhannad Hassan, when he was in the process of making a final decision regarding his future studies, so he decided without hesitation to enroll in the College of Veterinary Medicine.
“I have never seen anyone feel this way about a goat like this woman, so I decided to stay with her and regret mentioning the issue of slaughtering a goat. This incident changed the goals of my personal and professional life,” Muhannad told KirkukNow.
Muhannad Hassan, 30, completed his studies at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at Tikrit University and lives in Kirkuk. When Muhannad chose to join the veterinary field, he was ridiculed by his acquaintances and some of his friends, without anyone understanding the difficulties of this profession.
After graduating from university, many job opportunities opened up for him, but he was planning for the idea of establishing his own clinic.
The idea of establishing the clinic was due to the lack of supplies and needs needed by any animal breeder. Muhannad says that he had a cat and had to go to Erbil to get vaccines and some other supplies for it.
After that, he decided to provide these supplies to animal breeders and market it online, and from that the matter developed into importing certain types of cats according to the request of customers, after which some began to inquire about the availability of vaccines and supplies for their pets.
It provided job opportunities for other young men, and the number of workers in the center became more than 32 people.
In 2018, Muhannad opened a small center for the treatment of animals, and after the increasing number of customers, he decided, after a year, to expand the center.
"At the beginning, I used to work in the center with two people, but after converting it into a clinic, the number of work team members reached 10 workers." Muhammad says that he is happy because his idea has provided job opportunities for other young men, and the number of workers in the center has increased to 32 people.
Volunteer work has become a new stage in Muhannad's story. What happened between him and the old woman who was crying for her little goat encouraged him to have a role in treating stray animals that there is no one to take care of.
Muhannad provides treatment to every animal that needs it, whether it is a dog, a cat or a bird.
"The center that I founded treats these animals without any charge, so people are used to bring street sick animals. For example, the workers come across daily some cats or dogs and other animals exposed to harm and bring them to the center for treatment."
The passionate veterinarian takes care of all the expenses related to the treatment of stray animals, without receiving support from any specific organization, department, or entity.
“We cannot keep these animals in the center after their treatment. We receive about 4-9 cases on a daily basis, and these numbers require high capabilities and greater effort.”
Among the common diseases that affect stray animals due to the impact of climate changes in Kirkuk are high blood pressure in the summer and viral and bacterial diseases in the winter.
Muhannad records daily the cases he volunteers to treat. “We have treated nearly 3,500 stray animals for free over the past five years.”
Others helped them in that, including a taxi driver who has been bringing stray animals that need treatment to the clinic. Volunteering takes between two and three hours of Muhannad and his team's daily working time.
During the spread of the Corona epidemic, it was the golden period for veterinary workers, as it was difficult for pet breeders to leave the house due to the quarantine, and they were forced to request the delivery of pets and their supplies via the internet, while Muhannad Center team took care of bringing them to their homes.
Muhannad says, "During that period, our center used to receive 110 to 120 different requests every day, and we worked from 7 in the morning until 11 at night."
I think we have succeeded in encouraging people to take care of animals and help us
He believes that animals do not pose a danger to humans, as is common in society, indicating that according to his follow-up and experience in the field, local cats do not directly cause serious diseases to humans, but there are some diseases that are fatal to cats themselves and may lead to the death of large numbers of them, such as Cat plague.
With regard to stray dogs, they pose a threat to human life if they are infected with rabies or water cysts. “Most dogs, especially stray dogs, may suffer from viral diseases, including the (parvovirus), which causes drought and high temperatures in the winter season. Each disease has its own treatment.”
“The idea of forming a volunteer team has not occurred to me until now, because people bring stray animals to us for treatment as possible, and I believe that we have succeeded in encouraging people to take care of animals and help us.”
Over the past years, hundreds of stray dogs have been killed by teams affiliated with the Kirkuk administration saying they pose a threat to citizens and cause disease outbreaks.
Muhannad decided to develop his business to also provide a hotel service, where pets whose owners travel are accommodated and cared for in the center until they return.
The center also provides outpatient clinic service on farms and other places according to customers’ requests, but Muhannad’s team does not go out to the villages and countryside to treat pets because people bring them to his center.
“Level of community awareness is very high and now people immediately bring their pets to our center once they get sick and no need for our teams to go to see if they need vaccination and treatment." He pointed out that "there is only a 5% rate of cases that may come late for treatment.”
People's interest in raising animals, such as cats and dogs, is increasing in Kirkuk, and there is a great demand for it. “I can say that interest in raising animals has increased by 60-70% compared to previous years, and this is due to the influence of social networking sites and the influence of people who take care of animals on others.”
I am very grateful to be a part of this profession and this field
The profession that Muhannad Hassan chose, which was once the subject of ridicule by those around him, has today become a source of inspiration. Many ask him daily how they can become a successful veterinarian, and during exams for the sixth grade of middle school, the students’ families visit him and ask him about his profession and whether he recommends it to their children.
“It is common knowledge in countries around the world that veterinary medicine is the first barrier to diseases... Most diseases were initially transmitted from animals, such as bird flu, hemorrhagic fever, and all the way to Covid-19, so the veterinarian plays an important role related to livestock and protecting the country’s economy,” according to Muhannad.
Muhannad has bigger goals and ambitions. He wants the positive changes taking place in society’s view of animals to increase and for people to not look at stray animals with hatred. “If a person wants change, he must be a part of it. I am very grateful to be a part of this work and this field.”