When we moved into our neighbourhood a decade ago, it was a quiet and elegant area with wide streets and gap-toothed by the occasional vacant lot that multiple car families and visitors could use to park their vehicles.
Over time, the children in the ‘hood grew up and people moved in and out but the essence of the area remained unruffled.
However, in one aspect the surroundings have changed and I’m going to put it out here at the risk of sounding politically incorrect.
We have seen a marked increase in animals and birds in the area – pets as well as strays – and the public endorsement of the practice of feeding strays means that there are feeding stations all over the place.
One household keeps out trays of stale bread pieces for pigeons and another puts up a regular banquet for the cats in the street – all nine or 10 of them.
A couple of houses down the line, a kindly lady shares her pet dog’s treats with a steadily increasing pack of stray dogs.
In between these feeding times, the animals romp around and hunt for snacks in the municipal garbage bins.
And then there are pet-owners who walk their dogs and have decided to ignore the October 2020 Capital Trustees Board suggestion that the dog-owners must ‘scoop the poop’ and not be allowed to leave public places dirty and unhygienic.
It is a practice that is followed in some of the most fashionable places from Hyde Park to the Champs Elysees, so why not the parks and streets of Bahrain?
Now, I am not a pet owner and while not a passionate animal-lover, I do vigorously defend animal rights.
I fail to understand though, why my neighbourhood must pay the price for the animal-feeding instincts of people who themselves don’t have so many pets. Those pigeon-feeders and cat-feeders are happily pet-free and the feeder of canines has just one happy dog to care for in her own space.
All these people inflict their need to feed these creatures on the neighbourhood’s public space without taking responsibility for the animals. Want to feed 10 cats?
Sure, but do so in the privacy of your garden and not in the street in front of my house. And why not contribute to a neutering programme for these kitties so that they will not multiply every year and over-run the block?
As for pigeons, I think there must be a law against dumping stale food in public places for birds or any creatures for that matter.
The way some restaurants simply trash the small roundabouts and pavements nearby under the pretext of feeding the birds is bad for public health.
Who are they kidding when they throw away yesterday’s smelly biryani leftovers and say the pigeons love the meal?
The menace of stray dogs is often over-exaggerated – there is a difference between strays and feral packs but the line dividing them is thin indeed.
If I wanted to share my life with pets, I would have gotten myself one and I feel quite put upon that I have to now swerve my car or walk gingerly around prowling cats and dogs in a street that originally beguiled me with its monastic quiet.
I’m seriously thinking of starting an awareness campaign against the irresponsibility of making your street a zoo without checks and balances.
Suggestions are welcome.