A Palestinian national spent months rehabilitating a dog with a suspected broken back after rejecting a vet’s recommendation to have it put down.
“Some five months ago, one of my social media followers informed me that he had found a dog on the street that was probably run over by a motorist or violently beaten by someone,” Zaher Sammak, who was born in Riyadh, told Arab News.
Sammak said that he went to the location where he found the dog in very bad condition.
“When I arrived, the animal could hardly move. The incident seemed to have paralyzed the back part of the animal,” said Sammak, who works for an advertising agency in the Saudi capital.
“It was a very hot afternoon and the dog was sitting close to a water cooler next to a mosque. The animal was doing all it could to stay alive. It was like it did not want to breathe its last. It was licking all the water spilled on the ground,” Sammak said.
It took him nearly an hour to secure the dog as it was in a great deal of pain.
“I immediately took it to a vet clinic where the veterinarian recommended euthanasia for the helpless animal. It was a shock to me as I dare not willingly end the life of the living creature that I wanted to help. Without thinking twice, I refused and decided to take care of the animal myself,” he said.
Sammak took the dog home and provided it with a nutritious diet supported by calcium to help repair its bones.
“Rest was also important to the dog, along with a daily analgesic and anti-inflammatory. I also gave it B-complex vitamins for its nerves. I took the animal on walks after wrapping its injured back with a piece of cloth. With time and patience, the health of the animal started to improve,” Sammak said.
People’s reaction to the story on social media, especially Twitter, was “unbelievable” said Sammak, whose tweet about the dog has gained 1.9 million views, 23,000 retweets and 7,000 likes.
“I did not expect that amazing reaction from my social media users. Their respect and gratitude toward my act reflect what good people they are and how affectionate they are,” he said.
Saudi national Hissah Al-Abdullah tweeted: “This is when mercy is embodied in the form of a human being. We can never describe what you have done. All beautiful words and phrases of appreciation are even incapable of describing a noble person like you.”
Sammak highlighted that Islam recommended its followers to be merciful to animals.
“They can be a reason for someone to enter either Hell or Paradise in the hereafter. Worship does not only lie in prayers, but one of the cornerstones of worship lies in the purity of hearts,” he said.
Sammak’s interest in animals began when his late father taught his children to show them kindness.
“It happened that our next-door neighbors traveled for some days. They kept their pair of ring-necked parakeets with my family until they were due to return. As a child, I insisted on keeping them forever. From that time, birds, and animals in general, began to mean a lot to me and they have become part of my life ever since,” he said.
Sammak then bought a lovebird and became so attached to it that he cried when it died.
“I wept bitterly for the loss of that bird. I took it out to a nearby yard and buried it with tears in my eyes. Islam is the religion of mercy and Muslims were directed to act mercifully to all creatures, especially domestic animals. We have learned these values at home, in schools and from society members around us.”
Sammak said that his father used to ask the family not to throw away leftover food but give it to animals instead. “He used to urge us to feed animals in the streets. He even taught us that there were animals in the streets that needed water and we should provide them with water as often as we could.”
Sammak told Arab News that when a friend or anybody approaches him for help with a sick animal, he usually helps for free.
“However, when they bring me a sick animal, I just ask them to bring the necessary medication from a veterinary pharmacy.”